Xenia business owners, developers to renovate Carnegie Library for restaurant, event space

ajc.com

XENIA — The historic Carnegie Library here has been acquired by a private business that has plans to renovate the building and turn it into an event venue and restaurant.

Xenia council mediated the transfer of the 3,600-square-foot property between the county and a group of Xenia business owners dedicated to bringing the historic building “back to its splendor.”

“This is a building I’ve loved since I was a child,” said Bridget Walker, who owns Sweets Boutique in Xenia. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to restore the building and make Xenia a better place to live.”

Walker and her colleagues, developer Dan Mayer and architect Andrew Johnson plan to restore the building, including its intricate stained glass ceiling, and bring it up to code. Once that renovation is complete, Walker’s catering business, O’Neals, will move into the building, and the main floor will convert to an event venue, as well as a restaurant of the same name, serving the “healthy version of southern comfort food,” she said.

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Built in 1904, the Carnegie Library was the central library in Greene County until the Xenia branch on Market Street opened in 1978. The library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, following a grassroots effort to save the building from demolition. Greene County owned the library since 1997.

In 2017, Carnegie Library Friends, a group of volunteers, city and county leaders came up with three potential futures for the property, which included uses as a historical and cultural hub, a culinary space, or small business incubator. Estimated renovation costs from 2017 placed the restoration of the building between $2.2 million and $2.4 million. Some of these may be mitigated through Ohio Historic Tax Credits, according to city documents.

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While the present vision doesn’t follow one of the three options, the group plans to work with Carnegie Library Friends and the community at large to “get it right.”

“We have a vision of how we’d like to do this. We definitely want to restore as much as possible to its original splendor as it used to look, minus furnishings,” Walker said.

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