Another $5 million for arcade? Nope.

The nerve of the guy. Buy the Arcade, promise great things, then be late on your taxes- and then start asking for a handout.

The owner of Dayton’s historic downtown arcade wants a financial commitment from the community to aid in the $38-million restoration project.“What we are trying to do here is for the people of Dayton,” said Gunther Berg, who bought the arcade in March 2009. “One of our investors wants a $5-million commitment from Dayton, in writing.”

via Arcade owner wants $5 million commitment from Dayton.

Does that work for the average taxpayer? “I paid too much for my house, now, help me fix it up” – not hardly. And, didn’t the taxpayers already put at least $10 Million in about 30 years ago? Then didn’t we let local boy Tom Danis buy it for $36,000. Face it Mr. Berg, you have to pay off a police chief and make big political contributions before you get deals like a local boy.

The reality is- the Arcade tax sale was overpriced- by about $680K or so (what Berg paid for it). The appraised value should have been $36K since that’s what the last owner paid for it- but, the condition should have been that the building had to be maintained to the same standard it was in when bought. Same goes on foreclosures- the banks should be made to maintain property in same condition as when occupied.

If Mr. Berg wants a break- let’s give it to him- for every million he invests- he can have 6 months of property taxes valued at his purchase price (or some kind of equation). That way, the cost is to the County- not to the city, and, the development has a chance. Also, before you ask for any kind of break, show us a viable business plan- or don’t ask us to invest. You have to have one if you’ve already got other investors as you claim.

The arcade is really a tough project- the only sure fire development possibilities are probably a casino, a brothel or a legal dope smokers’ paradise. All have zero chance of happening. It would make a grand banquet center- if only it had better parking and less than 3 open floors in the center, but, it would also require more hotel rooms and a connection to an exhibition hall- like the convention center- and that’s not going to happen at this point.

We talk about this project on the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show:

What would you tell Mr. Berg? What would you do with the arcade and $40 million?

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9 Responses

  1. Jeff of Louisville March 19, 2010 / 5:52 am
    Congratulations, Esrati, you have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.  You penned a wordy version of a negative DDN comment.  And you are just as narrow as the commentors, thinking of things in a city-centric way.  From someone who is claims to be about regionalism and regional thinking.
    Assumption is that Berg really does have the financing lined up and this is a real deal.  Big assumption, true.  The story is one of Bergs investors wants to see a $5M committment from the local community (broadly definded) to the project, apparently as a condition of his or their participation.  This is a $38M project and $5M is around 13% of the cost.  Not a unreasonable expectation that they want to see some local skin in the game.
    This $5M can be public, private, or nonprofit, or a mix.  The issue is there the will and the local capacity to make this money happen, assuming this is real money.   If the money isn’t found the deal will collapse.
    I see this as a test of sorts.  My cyncial side says that this shit-town doesn’t have the vision, leadership, or financial capacity to pull together $5M.   I will buy a dome pane from Leon Bey and the Freinds of the Arcade, though.  Will any of you?  Didn’t think so.
  2. David Esrati March 19, 2010 / 6:14 am

    @Jeff- didn’t say don’t work with him- but direct investment in any private business has to stop. I’m willing to relook at how we tax things- at their true value, or adjust building codes to reduce cost, but that’s as far as I go. I have to offer him no more than I would offer Mills Morgan or RG Gunlock for their developments. It’s about being consistent.

    The historic tax credits could be made more valuable- or start creating creative re-use tax credits, or even landfill tax credits- since it would take up a lot more space in a landfill if it was torn down.

  3. Drexel Dave Sparks March 19, 2010 / 6:36 am
    The mountain of regressivism shown by the DDN commentators and the rest of the Dayton area when preserving that which is great, and grand, only makes me want to leave this area and scream toward heaven with fists clenched.
    It is truly depressing and sad. It seems that nobody thinks we deserve to be anything more than a strip mall/trailer court/plywood/drywall/vinyl society.
    Wallow in inferiority, because that’s what you all deserve!
    I’m with Kunstler on this.
  4. richard burks March 19, 2010 / 9:08 am
    My wife and I used to eat at Charlie’s Crab once a week especially during the summer and gaze down on the empty corridors below. We often shopped at Rinaldo’s and the Fish Place at the back end of the Arcade and even brought the kids down to the Arcade during Christmas. However, we didn’t see many others doing that and it became less and less. After, Charlie’s closed we joined the group that no longer came to the Arcade. The Danis debacle, the supposed “top end ” condos and all the other fairy tales that involved the Arcade  brought about it’s permanent demise. While the arcade is a beautiful building and looking up through that great ceiling is awesome, I do not want a single $ of my tax money to going towards anything dealing with the Arcade. I spent a lifetime career in retailing and as a Buyer for Rikes Department Store ( a great and well thought of retailer) I saw Downtown dying in 1982. There will never be a succussful retail environment DT again and especially not in the Arcade.
    The Schuster is successful but it’s patrons come and leave after the performance and head back out of DT. If  Mr Berg wants to waste his money, I say go for it but don’t use my money atleast not while the Dayton City Schools rank in the bottom of the State and while we wait to get our money back from the Trammel debacle… No Thank You!!
  5. Greg Hunter March 19, 2010 / 10:22 am
    This $5M can be public, private, or nonprofit, or a mix.  The issue is there the will and the local capacity to make this money happen, assuming this is real money.   If the money isn’t found the deal will collapse.

    Well Jeffery I think you are correct as the more I thought about it, and that is what these exercises are for, the more I thought we could exchange services in lieu of the 5 million.  If the Bergs could describe the desired development for the structures then we, as a community, could offer up the 5 million as cash or services in exchange for value.  For instance engineering or design services could be performed as a class project by UD/Sinclair/Wright State.

    In addition, I think all these structures were on part of the old Central Steam System and their could be some innovative ways to utilize the existing systems as part of a geothermal system.  Or even bring back Central Steam to facilitate common heating of buildings, bikeways and homes in the CBD as the inevitable consolidation in the Central City resumes.

    So in short – Buy DP&L and install one of these babies to run the central steam.  Now that is innovation!

  6. Gary Staiger March 19, 2010 / 10:46 am
    If Berg wants to develop the Arcade, let him do it with his OWN money…if he has any.
  7. Donald Phillips March 19, 2010 / 12:11 pm
    I’m all for preserving the Arcade, as I patronized it almost daily when I worked at Wilkie News in the late ’70s. Even then it had the entropic atmosphere of a Soviet chess club lobby. Everyone knew that its days were numbered; it was, however, a rational number, not $5,000,000.

    Where are the people  who assumed the position for Richard Four-flusher.  Go ahead and put your money where you mouth is, but have the courtesy to zip up afterwards and not leave a mess for someone else to attend to. 

  8. Jeff of Louisville March 20, 2010 / 12:34 am
    So you all pretty much concede there is no local private or foundation money that would go into this project, since you all are talking about public sector money.  I think that is a key point here.
  9. Tyler Nadzam June 13, 2013 / 9:48 am
    Now, that the library has said no to MR berg……what do you think is the next step?    I have several idea’s for this complex…..Do you think Gunther would sell?  Let me know if you have anyway to get in touch with him.

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