Dayton wants to demolish the Wright Brothers’ first bicycle store

September 22 — The City of Dayton wants to demolish the historic Gem City Ice Cream Co. building in West Dayton which was the site of the Wright Brothers’ first bicycle store.

The vacant two-story commercial structure on the 1000 block of West Third St. has fallen into a state of “extreme disrepair” and is a major nuisance and years of efforts to redevelop the property have failed, staff said. city.

The city is seeking a major certificate of opportunity from the Dayton Monuments Commission to remove the structure, and the commission will consider the city’s request this week.

“The loss of this building is regrettable, but at this point it has become inevitable,” says a report from Landmark Commission staff.

In 1892, a wooden building was constructed at 1005 W. Third St. which served as the Wright Brothers’ first bicycle store, according to the report.

A decade later, the Gem City Ice Cream Co. acquired the property and moved into it.

The ice cream company then added to the structure, building a second story and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The ice cream company closed in 1975 and H&H Utility Co. bought the property, the report says.

The utility company closed and moved out of the building in 1995, and the city bought it a few years later.

The city transferred the building to a potential developer in 2000, but the property was returned after the development team concluded it had too much structural damage.

The city said the building was declared a nuisance more than a dozen years ago and staff were unable to find a developer with the funds to rehabilitate the property.

Almost ten years ago, the city began the process of applying for approval to raze the property, but canceled it after hearing concerns from the community and the state historic preservation office, according to the commission report.

The 1005 W. Third St. property was the first of the Orville and Wilbur Wright bicycle stores.

The Wright’s second and third bicycle shops were demolished, but the fourth remains a National Historic Site on West Third and Williams streets in the Wright Dunbar district.

The fifth bicycle store was restored and moved to Michigan by Henry Ford.

The ice cream company building has problems with intrusion and water accumulation, failing foundations, separate brick walls, concrete beams and columns and walls in danger of collapsing, according to the inspections cited in the commission’s historic report.

A 2007 inspection concluded that the property could cost $ 2.8 million or more to be brought into “development ready” condition and that partial demolition was not viable as removing a section could cause the entire structure to collapse.

Another inspection in 2019 concluded that the building could not be salvaged, and city staff, including nuisance specialists, said the building needed to be removed, the report said.

The city says that although the developers have shown no interest in the rehabilitation of the building, they have expressed interest in the site and part of the city’s mediation plan calls for the salvage of materials like bricks, tiles. decorative pieces and a Gem City Ice Cream sign.

If the city issues a call for tenders to redevelop the site, it will require the reuse of all or part of these materials.

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