Wright Bros. site: $12 million new West Dayton library is just the beginning

The future of the Wright Company airplane factory site is coming into sharper focus with the release of the final design and new details about the $12 million west branch library.

The new 24,000-square-foot Dayton Metro Library branch will be a centerpiece of the 34-acre airplane factory site at West Third Street and Abbey Avenue in West Dayton.

Officials hope the library’s investment will be the first of many to come at the city of Dayton-owned factory site, which will help remake a central and sizable west side property.

“This is more than a stunningly beautiful new library,” said Tim Kambitsch, the executive director of the Dayton Metro Library. “Residents of West Dayton are going to see the transformation of a site that for too long divided its neighborhoods.”

The vision for the site of the first U.S. airplane factory is a cultural and community gathering place, said Susan Vincent, city of Dayton planner.

The National Park Service plans to purchase, manage and maintain the two historic Wright brothers airplane factory buildings, Vincent said. But the library is the first partner to commit to investing in the site.

The city wants to attract other development partners, Vincent said, and some ideas for end uses include creative tech and high-end light manufacturing that could tie into the site’s aviation heritage.

Other potential uses include mixed-use residential and outdoor recreation, she said.

One goal is for the new library, the national park buildings and future projects to connect to each other, creating a campus environment that still has urban character, Vincent said.

The city said conversations continue with the University of Dayton and others to try to find compatible uses for the remainder of the property.

Remediation work has been done on the site to prepare for future redevelopment.

The city will need to change the property’s underlying zoning to allow the construction of the new library and other development projects to move forward, city staff said. The city is working on a development plan that will contain development guidelines and proposed permitted and conditional uses.

The new west branch library, located at the southwest corner of the property, is expected to be a major draw and an economic catalyst.

The new facility will replace the Madden Hills and Westwood library branches, which are located less than a mile away.

The new West branch will be roughly double the size of the two libraries it replaces.

The library design has been finalized and construction bids have been received, officials say, and a contract is expected to be awarded later this month, with work likely to begin in September.

Kambitsch said the new library design encapsulates the aspirations West Dayton residents shared during feedback sessions, and it will be a place where people gather, learn and grow together as a community.

The new branch will have 50 computers, meeting spaces, a community room, study spaces and conference areas.

The building will offer a “marketplace area” where its materials are kept, a recording room and a tech lab.

The children’s area will have a program room with a small performance area.

Kambitsch said he would like to see small businesses and educational uses move in as neighbors on the larger property.

The Dayton Metro Library has renovated or newly constructed 13 library branches as part of a system-wide overhaul, with the most recent new addition being the Trotwood branch, which opened last month.

The west library branch is expected to open in late 2021.

After that, the Burkhardt branch is expected to come online in early 2022.

The Northmont branch is expected to open in mid-2022, and the Huber Heights branch is planning a late 2022 grand opening.

About the Author