Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Louisville saves old factories/ Dayton demolishes them

It appears the old Frigidaire building at the Tech Town site is being considered for demolition, as re-use costs appear to be too high.

No word on what would replace it (more parking or another new building?).

That this is apparently "OK" with a lot of people is a good illustration on how this community is not too serious about historic preservation, or, more accurately, retention of its 19th and early 20th century urban fabric, as this structure is really not 'historic' aside from the Frigidaire connection.

It seems, beyond the few that have been renovated, industrial building conversions seems to have stalled in Dayton, perhaps due to difficulty in financing, and perhaps even a lack of market.

An alternative situation is developing in Louisville. There, creative financial intervention by city government combined with an interest in city living & working among the locals has led to some innovative re-use. A case in point is the Snead Building:

It’s on the edge of downtown, but has been remodeled into a mixed use facility and renamed The Glassworks.
The program is:

1. First two floors as studio and public space (including a night club, event space, glass art studios and classroom space)
2. 3 floors of offices (being occupied by an engineering/design firm, similar to Woolpert)
3. 4 floors of apartments
4. Roof terrace.

Some pi x of the event space, galleries & gift shop, and upper floor business lobby, & view of a glassblowing annex next to the main building

The glassblowing area visible from the event space (tours are offered, too, I think). I think is a neat feature of the complex. Imagine having a working tool & die shop or something similar on open view like this in a renovated factory building.

This project wouldn't have happened if not for Louisville government setting up a redevelopment deal fund. From the US Conference of Mayors website:
Downtown Louisville's Glassworks Blends Art, Commerce and Housing

"...Glassworks' $13 million project total consists of a $7.5 million first mortgage, a $554,000 secondary mortgage provided by the city's Downtown Housing Fund, and $5 million in equity and historic tax credits.

Glassworks was the first development to receive financing from the Downtown Housing Fund following its creation; the bank providing the project's primary financing is one of the investors in the Housing Fund and learned of Glassworks through the Fund..."

I don’t know if such a fund exists in Dayton to provide gap financing, but this approach is proving fairly successful in Louisville (the Glassworks is not the only example) in contributing to downtown revival.

And it's achieved national recognition:

"...The International Downtown Association recently gave the Fund its national award for economic development excellence, and Partners for Livable Communities has given the Fund its Bridge Builder Award in recognition of the unique public-private partnership that has been created..."

Another example, across the street from the Glassworks, is this residential conversion (at least it looks like one, with the balconies):

The most recent is the redevelopment of the old Hotel Henry Clay on the south edge of downtown, and a forgivable loan to a downtown grocery store start-up to serve the growing downtown residential market.

So, why not in Dayton?


Matthew Sauer said...

I believe CityWide does gap financing, though on a typically small scale.

It would definitely be a shame to lose another piece of Dayton's history. It seems like tax credits would be available for the Frigidaire building too, right?

I do like that Louisville created a fund expressly for downtown housing, and I think Dayton might be better off if it concentrated much more on housing and adaptive re-use downtown, along with maintaining current commercial tenants. The Living City Project did a lot of downtown housing advocacy and "visioning" when it was in swing in the early 90s. Maybe LCP could get resurrected? At any rate, more housing would give more people a stake in downtown, which can only improve things.

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