Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An Arcade Redevelopment Lesson for Dayton

I will be doing a brief presentation tomorrow on the Grove Arcade in Ashville, North Carolina at the FSA meeting.

This is another example where local government stepped up to the plate, along with the local business community, and re-used an arcade as a multi-use structure. The Grove Arcade was purchased by the city of Ashville, and then turned over to a nonprofit 501c3 Grove Arcade Foundation via a long term lease. The Foundation then redeveloped the Arcade and operates it, though some of the leasing is done by a local developer acting as agent.

The cost to renovate this arcade was $30M. The money for the nonprofit part came from various sources, including the city and county (the foundation director told me it was a complicated deal, involving credits, grants, the city and county, and private individuals.), and that a local utility acted as the developer for the offices and apartments

There was problems attracting a developer, due to the nature of the arcade space (which was an issue with the Dayton Arcade, too, during the first redevelopment), which is why the nonprofit Grove Arcade Foundation was set up: as a nonprofit they only have to break even, plus had more access to grants to nonprofits. A private developer from Atlanta was recruited for the office/apartment part, but FirstEnergy, a Carolina utility, stepped in when he dropped out.

The Grove has retail on the ground floor, offices on the second, and apartments on the third and upper floors. There is also a market along the outside and parking in the basement.

Retail was 100% leasd this year. The apartments are not fully leased yet, but there are no gross vacancies. It seems like they are between 80% and 90% occupied

Again, the thing that is missing in Dayton is a convening authority with clout to make it happen, to act as an advocate for the building and pull all the pieces together. In Asheville it was the mayor and a task force, which included council members, the city manager, and private citizens.

They didn't just study re-use, they made it happen, and got creative about it , too.

One thing that needs to be clear about the Grove Arcade, as with the other examples I have looked at, is that a public-private partnership is required for re-use.

In Daytons case the city, the county, or something like the Port Authority could purchase the building to keep it falling into the hands of an unscrupulous developer who would demolish it (in this case the purchase price would go to a 501c3) Then a similar nonprofit foundation could be set up and private sector partners arranged.

The complaint about this is there is no money. Well, have a countywide referendum for a bond issue to raise the money, but also establish a public purpose to justify the bonds. In the case of the Grove, the public purpose was to treat the arcade as a public market in a broader sense, including craft galleries and workshops, not just retail.

This could be done in Dayton as well, if the Arcade could be positioned as a community gathering place of sorts, similar to Courthouse Square.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Jeffrey. I'm looking forward to seeing your presentation at noon today.

Foreverglow said...

Where would the entrance be for living units? Would it be secured/private? Weird question but just curious.

Jeffrey said...

The original apartments had little elevator lobbys off the main halls or passages into the arcade. These could be securable, or via a keycard system.

I lived in an old building in downtown Sacramento, The Thayer, that elevator access to the upper floors (small elevator with an accordian door). We all had keys to the building, which led into the elevator lobby.