The Dayton Arcade on Wednesday scored $5 million in state historic tax credits to help rehab the iconic complex.
But after a series of failed redevelopment proposals for the property, some might be skeptical that this plan will succeed.
Here are some important things to know about the current redevelopment proposal and what makes it different from past efforts.
What do developers propose?
The main partners of the development team behind the Arcade rehab are Baltimore-based Cross Street Partners and local firm Miller-Valentine Group. They want to revive the Arcade’s eight interconnected buildings, focusing first on five buildings south of an alley that cuts through the middle of the block.
The first phase could cost more than $56 million (or $80 million, depending on what buildings and expenses are counted). The first phase would create 126 apartments geared toward artists and creative professionals, most of which would be affordable housing. The historic rotunda building would be restored to house offices, businesses, start-ups, a kitchen incubator, classrooms, restaurants, retail, art galleries and co-working spaces.
Who would the tenants be?
The proposed anchor tenants would be the University of Dayton and The Entrepreneurs Center, but Sinclair Community College also wants to have a significant presence as well. UD and the center want to create an “innovation hub” in the rotunda where students, faculty, businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers and representatives from a wide range of fields and industries interact and collaborate.
Future tenants could include a second Warped Wing brewery, a Boston Stoker coffee shop and the headquarters of the Dayton Visual Arts Center. The owner of Carmen’s Deli and Bistro in the Kettering Tower is interested in opening a deli and grocer called Feelohs. The owner of Salon J Ladner & Spa on St. Clair St. is interested in opening a second business in the space.
Is this project really going to happen?
The simple answer is we still don’t know . Local leaders and development officials seem very optimistic and treated Wednesday’s announcement of the tax credit award as a major leap forward for the project.
The development partners said they are very close to securing the financing they need — so close, in fact, they nearly thought they would have an announcement about it at Wednesday’s press conference. But they didn’t, and it’s not a done deal. However, this redevelopment plan is closer to reality than any that have preceded it in the 27 years since the Arcade officially closed, officials say.
The Arcade project already has obtained $20 million in low-income housing tax credits and another $20 million in new market tax credits. Developers say they still need to finalize JobsOhio and Dayton Business Committee assistance. When will we know it’s happening? When the developers close on the property.
Other proposals have failed. Why would this be different?
Some of the financing pieces developers have assembled now did not exist during past redevelopment attempts. The Arcade will be expensive to rehab, but tax credits are supposed to close the gap between what it costs to restore historic buildings and the income they can generate when revived.
Developers say the project is financially feasible because of new financing tools and incentives. Efforts to rehab the Arcade also come at a time when urban centers across the country are seeing a resurgence and downtown Dayton’s housing market has been hot. Empty-nesters, young professionals and millennials increasingly seem to prefer to live in distinctive housing close to where they work and are attracted by amenities such as dining, entertainment and outdoor recreation.
The Arcade is in the heart of downtown, and developers envision it becoming a centerpiece of a new urban neighborhood.
Why is the Arcade important to downtown?
The Arcade is supposed to be a catalyst intended to help bring 8,000 new jobs downtown over a period of five to 10 years. The Arcade itself could be home to 150 businesses — most very small — and hundreds of workers. Documents filed with the state indicate the Arcade will have 336 permanent jobs and that the construction work will support 440 jobs.
The Arcade occupies most of a block between West Third and Fourth streets that also contains Fifth Third Center, which developers say could fill up fast with workers if the Arcade takes off.
What else did developers share about their plans?
Food and dining play a big role in the complex’s redevelopment plans. The Arcade will house a kitchen incubator for product development and culinary workforce training.
Developers want to add sidewalk cafes and draw a diverse mix of food vendors. And they hope to draw some interesting new eating and dining locations to the property. Bill Struever, principal of Cross Street Partners, is the uncle of Joe Lanni, who is the co-owner and co-founder of some popular restaurants in Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati and other parts of southwest Ohio. Lanni was behind Currito, the Eagle, Maplewood Kitchen and Bar and Bakersfield. Lanni said he’s toured the Arcade and it’s on his radar.
Future phases of redevelopment are expected to offer more innovation spaces and housing, including market-rate and micro-sized units. They are interested in a food marketplace to help make the Arcade a destination.