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Historic Dayton Building to Become Residential

A long-vacant historic building in the center of Dayton's central business district is now poised for a new life.

The 137-year old Raymee/Burton Building at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Berry Street was purchased by Covington-based Orleans Development which plans to restore it.

The $1.8 million effort is expected to result in a mixed-use building with first-floor commercial space and loft apartments on the upper floors, said Tony Kreutzjans, owner of Orleans Development.

When completed, the building will have ten apartments in 13,500 square feet of space on the second, third, and fourth floors and 4,500 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.

The residential units will be one studio, six one-bedroom units, and three large, loft apartments. Unit sizes will range from 650 to 1,254 square fee with rents ranging from $825 to $1,300, including cheaper rents for some units the city is subsidizing for affordable housing in the building. Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2022.

“The history of this building is incredibly rich,” Kreutzjans said. “From Dayton’s first City Hall to various Fraternal Lodges, the original structure, towering windows, and grand staircase remain intact from their original construction more than 130 years ago.”

“The age-old saying, ‘If walls could talk ...’ is quite literal here, with signatures and notes from a by-gone era scribbled on the entrance wall of the building. It really tells a story of its past and we want to honor that history. We’re excited to add to the ongoing vibrancy of Dayton’s Main Street by restoring one of the oldest buildings in the Northern Kentucky region to its former glory.”

The building - known both as the Rayme Building and the Burton Building – was built in 1884 on land owned by Burton Hazen, a Cincinnati steamboat builder and lumber-yard owner and one of the original founders of the City of Brooklyn, which merged with the City of Jamestown in 1867 to form the City of Dayton.

A post office, barbershop, store, and private offices originally occupied the first floor of the historic building. The back of the second floor served as Dayton’s City Hall – housing the offices of the city marshal, city clerk, treasurer, property assessor, and engineer, while the front portion of the second floor and third and fourth floors served as a meeting hall and offices of the International Order of Odd Fellows.

Over the years, the building was used for a variety of commercial and civic uses, including a Pythian Temple, the city’s first Kroger grocery store, a druggist, barbershop, attorney office, insurance agency, print shop, and a movie theater. In recent years, tenants had vacated the building, windows were boarded, and the building’s condition deteriorated. The last active commercial use in the building was a carpet retailer more than two decades ago.

Orleans has had a hand in the revitalization of many buildings in Northern Kentucky's river cities, including the Kent Lofts in Bellevue, the Tailor Lofts in Newport, and the Boone Block Lofts in Covington.

The project is supported by the Catalytic Fund, which helps finance such efforts in the river cities.

“This building has long been one of the Catalytic Fund’s target investments due to its historic significance, its blighted and deteriorated condition, its prominent location in Dayton’s emerging historic business district, and the Catalytic Fund’s desire to serve this part of its investment area,” said Jeanne Schroer, president and CEO of the Catalytic Fund.

“Orleans Development is uniquely qualified to undertake this complex project given its track record of completing similar successful projects such as the Kent Lofts in Bellevue, Tailor Lofts in Newport, and the Bradford Building and Boone Block Lofts in Covington,” Schroer said.

The Catalytic Fund will fund the costs of acquiring the property and obtaining certain approvals and designations necessary to advance the project to a developable stage. Upon completion of the pre-development work, the acquisition and pre-development loan will convert to a Historic Tax Credit bridge loan and the Catalytic Fund will also provide a primary construction loan to fund development costs associated with redevelopment of the project.

Because this project is seen has having an extraordinary community impact, the Catalytic Fund is providing special financing terms through its Flexible Capital Pool, Schroer said. This will help the developer mitigate some of the risks and high costs associated with executing a quality historic building restoration/adaptive re-use project. The Catalytic Fund also obtained a $40,000 grant through Duke Energy’s Urban Revitalization Initiative to further support this project.

In addition, the City of Dayton will contribute federal funding from the American Rescue Program Act to provide gap financing needed to make this project a reality. The contribution will be used to reduce rents in some of the residential housing units to provide affordable housing for Dayton residents.

“This building is the anchor of our central business district and the rehabilitation of this historic building has been a top priority in our city for many years,” Dayton Mayor Ben Baker said. “We are excited and appreciative that a Orleans Development, a high-quality developer with expertise in historic rehabilitation projects, is undertaking this transformational project and that Catalytic Fund and Duke Energy both have invested in our city through their financial assistance to this endeavor.”

Baker also said that the city will enter into an agreement with the developer that will reduce the rent in some of the units so they will be affordable to renters whose gross annual household income is at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income ($47,850 for a single person).

“This project will not only restore a significant building in our city’s history, but also achieves a central component of our downtown revitalization plan while providing high-quality, affordable housing to some of our residents, both of which are important strategic goals set forth by our city council in its strategic plan.”

Kreutzjans said he is seeking to place the property on the National Register of Historic Places. Once the building receives this designation, his company will be able to obtain federal and state historic tax credits to help finance the rehabilitation of the building.

Christopher M. Harris, an architectural historian with Cardno, the consultant that is working with Orleans Development on getting the designation, said the building is remarkable in a number of ways.

“This corner – and this building – is historically the most significant spot in the entire development of the City of Dayton,” Harris said. “This sits at the border separating Brooklyn from Jamestown and is the corner where the trolley line ended, where people got off to go to Dayton’s beaches, its amusement park, hotels, and other businesses.”

Harris said he was impressed with the character and condition of the building.

“Most everything is in the building is like it was when it was constructed in 1884, including the 15-foot, double-hung windows on the second and third floors, most of the original hardwood floors, four cast-iron support posts that go from floor to ceiling, original wood arches and wood trim, tin ceilings, and Lincustra wall coverings,” he said. “It’s in amazingly great condition for being nearly 140 years old.”

-Staff report