The death of historic preservation in Dayton

Photo by David Esrati of the demolition of the Dayton Daily News building 1923 addition

The day after demolition was allowed to continue

Apparently the cost of a hall pass to tear down a historic structure is $500. You can probably even skip paying that, if you can get the blame shifted to city staffers who never run the risk of getting fired (unless you either get caught with child porn on your computer or you blow the whistle on someone hired because of whom they are related to).

There is zero accountability in city hall. The demolition of the rear section of the Dayton Daily News building, despite it clearly being slated for saving by Landmarks, clears the way for the demolition of every other historic building in Dayton.

City staff failed to notice that facade preservation was not written on demolition permits obtained by Rauch, said Aaron Sorrell, director of planning and community development for the city. He said Students Suites officials knew it was to be preserved, but had asked for the city to consider allowing it to be cut down with only the bottom third remaining as a decorative wall. That proposal had not yet gone before the Landmarks Commission.

Sorrell said the city has the ability to seek minor misdemeanor charges against the developer in Dayton Municipal Court — with a penalty of $500 — for the violation. The city can also order the developer to pay a “mitigation fee” that could be “up to 75 percent of the estimated demolition and disposal cost for the violation,” Sorrell said.

via Preservationists question demolition of old Daily News… | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

And while there was a small whimper from the community about the loss of this building, no one misses the Schwind- except maybe former patrons of the Embassy lounge. The terracotta detailing on it wasn’t quite as ornate as others in the area, but it was a building with zero structural defects and prime for a rehab. Two previous local developers were both denied tax re-appraisals and any funding for their plans to turn it into housing. When the Dayton Daily building had two reductions in tax valuation since the DDN abandoned it:

In 2006, the DDN building was appraised at approximately $2.4 million. Since then, the appraised value listed on the auditor’s website was reduced in 2007 to $450,000, to less than $165,000 by 2011. The recently demolished Schwind building, in comparison, had been appraised at $338,000, more than twice the price of the Cox building and land.

via Time to fire the “community development” manager.

Were tax values decreased for Cox in exchange for the lump sum donation of half a million dollars to “River Run” the paddle boat course on the river, and a pledge for money to go toward this demolition (typically, government money can’t be used to tear down property that’s protected by preservation laws).

Why demolition even began before the deed on the Schwind building had been cleared is also worthy of investigation. Should the deed restrictions hold, this project may never come to fruition, leaving us with an empty hole on a streetscape and half of the historically significant part of the Dayton Daily News building. Was the rush to complete a deal that funneled money into the most expensive political race on record? Demolition contractor Steve Rauch has been a large donor in the past to the Democratic machine.

Considering that the laws that have protected historic districts have been part of the formula that has given Dayton its only successful neighborhoods based on property and tax value increases over the last 30 years (that are in areas served by Dayton Public Schools) does this mark the end of preservation in Dayton? For a city that had no problem hauling me into court in 1986 for putting up the “wrong kind of garage doors” on a non-historic structure- facing an alley, who is going to take responsibility for the demolition of a landmark?

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