- Jim Ingram
A little more than a year after purchasing the historic Davis-Linden Building in Dayton, Matt Dieringer is making good on his promise to make it more community oriented.
The building, which currently houses more than 40 tenants who use their respective spaces for everything from graphic design to a boxing gymnasium, represented a unique business opportunity to him.
“I wanted to get involved with local startups. I owned a few companies myself in manufacturing retail and distribution,” Dieringer began. “We spent so much time developing the companies -- figuring out what we needed, winging it -- (that we) never had a culture to immerse ourselves in or collaborate with others.”
Dieringer decided he would get involved in the startup community and learn how he could help out. The long-term part of his grand design is the encouragement of collaboration and getting people to work together to make it profitable for all. The first phase of that process has been creating an event hall on the building’s second floor.
So Dieringer, along with family and friends, spent the last four months clearing out the area -- which was once divided into various studios and workshops -- to make it an excellent setting for events. There was sanding and applying polyurethane to the floors and more to be done. In fact, Dieringer’s vision of collaborative efforts came to life with various tenants contributing to the restoration efforts.
“There’s chemical engineers, screen printers, artists, electrical engineers, custom woodshops and art studios (here). So the diversity and culture that was already created here—and then getting people involved on projects with the building—just kind of bringing people together and creating that encouraging environment to work with others, it’s turned out great,” he said.
The building, built in the 1890s, once housed heavy machinery and assemblies of workers for companies like the Davis Sewing Machine Company and later Huffy Bicycles. Soon, it will host musical performances, receptions and more.
“I’ve also thought about trying to drum up some business during the week and have renowned chefs coming in from larger cities that are stopping by and have some type of culinary event here. Kind of like food truck rallies, except these different restaurants actually bring in dishes they make, with people trying different things,” Dieringer said.
The hall, which also features a bar area, passed its first test run recently when Dieringer used it to host his own wedding reception. After a few final touches, the Davis-Linden Building’s event hall will be ready for its first formal event next month.
Dieringer says bigger changes to the grand scope of the building are on the way, such as making the space more accessible by installing a pedestrian tunnel and elevators, as well as turning the courtyard parking lot into green space. It all sound like a lot of work, but he knew that when he bought the building.
“We expected it to be challenging. It’s pretty much what I thought we’d be getting into,” Dieringer said. “I’m just trying to bring some diversity -- some other cultural experiences in the area.”