DAYTON ARCADE
West 3rd and South Main Streets
Dayton, Ohio


Ohio's second enclosed shopping gallery was built in the "Gem City". It followed an earlier complex completed, in Cleveland, in 1890. The DAYTON ARCADE was developed on a 3.7 acre downtown Dayton plot. Construction commenced in 1902. 

Existing structures, such as the 3rd Street Presbyterian Church, Kuhns Building and Phillips Hotel, were worked into a 4-level -250,000 square foot- retail, office and residential complex. 

The DAYTON ARCADE was envisaged by E.J. Barney and Michael J. Gibbons and designed by Frank Mills Andrews and the firm of Schenck & Williams. It consisted of a 2-level, glass-covered corridor, which extended from a Main Entrance on 3rd Street to a 3-level, glass-enclosed Rotunda. This edifice was 70 feet high and 90 feet in diameter.

The Main Entrance was patterned after an Amsterdam guild hall. The dome of the Rotunda was decorated with depictions of fruits and vegetables indigenous to Ohio, as well as acorns and ram's heads. Each framing member of the dome structure was accented by a large turkey.

On both sides of the 3rd Street corridor was a single-level block of retail shops. Above the western block were 4-levels of apartments; the eastern block was topped by 3 residential levels. Surrounding the Rotunda was a level of retail, with 2 upper floors of office spaces.

The DAYTON ARCADE was appointed with all of the latest 20th century conveniences, such as elevators, central heating, a power plant and lower level cold storage area. At its official grand opening, held March 3, 1904, animals were brought in from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Charter DAYTON ARCADE merchants included Vince's Fruit Shop, a barber shop and Disher's Delicatessen. The floor of the Rotunda was filled by a 50-vendor Food Market.

Office buildings were built on the ARCADE block that connected into the complex. The Commercial Building, on the southwest corner, was completed in 1909. The Miami Savings Bank Building (later known as the Lindsey Building) opened in 1917.

A 2-level (37,000 square foot) J.G. McCrory 5 & 10, and associated office building, were dedicated in 1924. This was also the year that the 3rd Street Presbyterian Church, on the northwest corner of the site, was demolished and replaced with an office building. A Dayton-based Liberal supermarket was in operation, on its first floor, by the 1940s.

By the 1960s, suburban shopping centers were usurping the ARCADE. Its glass roofs, which had started to leak, were covered with tar paper and shingles, making the interior appear dark and uninviting.

Shops and services in operation at this time included the aforementioned McCrory and Liberal stores, as well as The Arcade Health Center, Culp's Cafeteria, Arcade Seafoods, Eden's Meats, Walker's Fresh Fruit Drinks, The Jewel Box, Nu-Way Bakery, Steppe-Inn Lounge, Tasty Bird Farms Bar-B-Q and Sybil Hat Shop.

In 1977, the complex, which had been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, was sold to an entity known as Arcade Partners. They proceeded to evict all retail and residential tenants, except for McCrory and Liberal.

A 14 million dollar renovation got underway. This included the installation of a glass-enclosed elevator, and set of escalators, in the Rotunda. All roof coverings were removed, with ceilings re-opened to the skies.

The renewed retail center, known as ARCADE SQUARE, debuted on May 10, 1980. There were originally 6 shops. By year's end, 33 were in business. Tenants included Rinaldo's Bake Shop, Casual Corner, Red Cross Shoes, Waldenbooks, The American Way Sandwich Shop, Charlie's Crab Restaurant and the Coca-Cola Museum.

In 1986, the floor of the rotunda was taken out and a lower level The Menu Food Court installed. Among its offerings were Gold Star Chili, Potato King, the Great Steak & Fry Company, Roma Pizza and Mandarin Kitchen.

4 years later, the Phillips Hotel structure, comprising the northeast corner of the complex, was razed and replaced by the 20-story Dayton Arcade Center office tower. The building housing the Metro (nee' Liberal) supermarket was also replaced by a parking garage, which included new quarters for the grocery on its first level.

Unfortunately, the ARCADE SQUARE reinvention proved to be less than successful. Its center city location was seen as dangerous. Also, parking was at a premium. 

A vacancy created by the shuttering of McCrory's, in the early 1990s, was never filled. Moreover, patrons at The Menu Food Court were hassled by security staff if they remained seated for too long. This severely reduced the lunchtime trade at ARCADE SQUARE eateries. In March 1991, the complex closed its doors. 3 tenants -out of 28- remained in business. 

In 1994, a plan was announced that would have repurposed the shuttered structure as a mega-museum complex. This was to include a National Aviation Hall of Fame, Children's Museum and operative of the Montgomery County Historical Society. This initiative failed. 

By this time, the complex had gone through 4 owners and been auctioned off for back taxes. The current proprietor, the Dayton-based Danis Building Construction Company, donated the structure to a charity organization in 2004. It continued to languish and was purchased by 2 Wisconsin-based investors in May 2009.

Gunther Berg and Wendell Strutz had discovered the ARCADE SQUARE property during an online auction. They traveled to Dayton, assessed the structure, and ended up buying it.

A thorough renovation was planned, but never got off the ground. Meanwhile, the complex continued to deteriorate. By October 2013, ARCADE owners were in arrears for over 300 thousand dollars in unpaid property taxes. 

In September 2015, city commissioners approved a 700,000 dollar contract to pay for much-needed roof repairs to the ARCADE. These would prevent any further water damage to the structure while a workable renovation plan could be put together.

2 Cleveland-based architectural firms were brought in to assess the ARCADE and recommend the best plan for its reinvention. They concluded that a refurbishment including studio apartments, student housing, artist loft spaces and a "boutique upscale hotel" would be the most practical reuse of the property. 

By June 2017, a joint venture of the Dayton-based Miller-Valentine Group, Baltimore-based Cross Street Partners and the City of Dayton had worked out a 75 million dollar ARCADE redevelopment. The historic structure will be refitted with housing units, art galleries, classrooms, studios, offices, restaurants, retail and public events spaces.

Some potential tenants are a University of Dayton "ideation center", Entrepreneurs Center, facilities for Sinclair Community College and branches of the Warped Wing Brewing Company and Boston Stoker Coffee Company. First-phase businesses could be in operation by December 2018. 

Sources:

"Dayton Arcade" article on Wikipedia
http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=13169.0 (Urban Ohio Forum, "Jeffrey" webmaster)
http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com / Dayton Arcade Photographs / Robert Thaman, photographer
Dayton Daily News

www.bizjournals.com
www.dayton.com
http://wdtn.com