Exclusive: Downtown's Price Stores building will get a whole new (old) look

The Dayton Business Journal (@dbjnews) presented an article on the plans for redeveloping the iconic Price Stores building in the Fire Blocks District (@fireblocksdistrict).

Below is the full article by Tristan Navera. (@TNaveraDBJ)

The Price Stores building in downtown Dayton is about to go back to its roots.

The five-story building at 52 S. Jefferson St. will lose the distinct beige panels that cover it over the next 12 to 18 months as The Ellway Group rehabilitates the building's top floors into a bar and a hotel. The namesake Price Stores shop will stay open on the ground space and part of the second floor, said Ellway principal Greg McCluskey.

The five-story Price Stores building will be losing its distinctive panels once it's…  more

The five-story Price Stores building will be losing its distinctive panels once it's… more

The 26,800-square-foot building gained those panels decades ago, but the Fire Blocks developers say it's time to show off the distinct architecture. They just bought the building for $550,000 to add to their $100 million plan for the Fire Blocks District.

"That building has some of the most wonderful architecture in downtown," Winfield Scott Gibson said in an interview with the DBJ.

The developers are looking at an 18- to 24-month redevelopment project on the building as part of the second floor becomes a new bar and the top three floors are converted to a boutique hotel.

The panels went up decades ago — the historic building constructed in 1915 gained them as a fashion statement. But they cover the wythe masonry downtown developers have wanted to bring back for some time.

"Whoever owned the store before him went on a buying trip to New York, and that covering was all the rage, so we came back and put those on the building," city planner Amy Walbridge said. "The building is very ornate, you can look out the windows and see how beautiful the building is. That metal has been quietly protecting it."

Downtown planners have envisioned a mixed-use potential in the Price building for some time. In 2012 the city conducted an adaptive reuse story on the building with LWC Inc., Woolpert Inc. and Al. Neyer LLC taking a look inside. Getting rid of the panels just might be a chance to help fund part of the building's improvements, they found.

"The removal of this screen and slight repair of the masonry facade would offer a tremendous opportunity to submit for historical tax credits and to create a huge visual impact," states the study. "The Masonry façade behind the aluminum panels is in excellent condition and is full of amazing details constructed by the hands of true craftsmen."

Specifically, the building could benefit from the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, Tax Increment Financing and Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Gibson said the group has been assembling private sources of financing for the whole $100 million Fire Blocks project as well.

The 2012 study ultimately concluded the building could house about 20 flat- and loft-style apartments on its upper floors. The Ellway Group's costs and plans for the hotel upstairs are still being determined.

Edd Wimsatt, owner of Price Stores, said it was time to sell the real estate. The 67-year-old long-time owner of Price has considered selling the business and real estate for several years. Price has signed a 12 month lease and an option for another 12 months, but he said the longer-term future is still open. He added the building's top floors, currently storage and dry cleaning, could be moved elsewhere downtown to accommodate the redevelopment.

"I would love to see another family put the same passion into this," Wimsatt said.

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