The publisher of the Dayton City Paper is calling for a feasibility study to learn if the downtown Arcade or other historic building would be a good fit for the main Dayton Metro Library, instead of renovating the 1962-era building in Cooper Park.
Arcade co-owner Gunther Berg made a presentation to the library board in 2010 asking members to consider the Arcade for the main library, but the concept was rejected. Publisher Paul Noah will ask the board, at a 4 p.m. meeting Wednesday at the Main Library, to revisit the idea. He says use of historic tax credits for restoration would make the project a better deal for taxpayers.
“I have come to learn there was no in-depth feasibility study to determine if the Arcade was a viable option. I have an objection to that.” Noah said.
Passage of a $187 million bond issue in November is enabling Dayton Metro to update facilities system wide, including remodeling the Main Library in downtown Dayton. Tim Kambitsch, executive director of the library system, said other organizations have tried to make a go in the more than century-old Arcade without success, a path he doesn’t want the library to follow.
The Arcade, straddling West Third and West Fourth streets, was built in 1902. The building thrived as a marketplace and apartments for four decades, but has struggled ever since. In May 1980, the facility reopened as a retail shopping and food center, but success was short lived. In 1991, the last tenant moved out.
“It would be a huge risk for the library,” Kambitsch said. “Paul Noah is lifting expectations for something that will never happen.”
Noah argues that in previous restorations there was no tenant to provide “a use in perpetuity,” which the library would.
Berg heard, through Noah, that there was a movement in Dayton to rekindle the idea.
“Honestly, I think it is the right thing to do,” Berg said. “It would be a perfect anchor solution.”
Optimism rose for the long-dead Arcade in 2009, when two men from Wisconsin made an overnight dash to Dayton to buy the complex at a Montgomery County sheriff’s tax lien sale. Berg and Wendell Strutz, partners in Dayton Arcade LLC, had hoped to begin restoration in six months.
Now, the duo owes $309,132 in back taxes and the city has declared the property a nuisance, because of broken windows. Berg said he hopes to announce some development plans later this week, including naming a general contractor.
Meanwhile, the library will reveal detailed plans for the Main Library to the public at a 5:30 p.m. meeting on May 3. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Main Library, 215 E. Third Street.