What’s in store for downtown Dayton’s Fidelity Building?

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What’s in store for downtown Dayton’s Fidelity Building?

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Looking north on Main Street near the corner of Main and Fifth Streets with the Fidelity Building on the left, 1947. From the collections of Dayton History.

Do you ever wonder why certain buildings in urban areas are vacant, and what the future holds for them?  

This week on The Buildings of Dayton, I'm going to tell you the story of the Fidelity Building, located at 211 S. Main St. across the street from the Dayton Convention Center in downtown Dayton.  

Dayton's first post office building was constructed at the southwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets in 1892. It was razed in 1911. Ground was broken by the Fidelity Building Association for the Fidelity Medical Building on February 19, 1918. The building was open and ready for occupancy on George Washington's birthday, February 22, 1919, one year and three days from the start of construction. Designed in the Neo-Classical architectural style by the firm of Peters, Hermann & Brown, the building stands twelve floors including the penthouse.  

The speed of construction by engineer Joseph E. Lowes was unusually fast, considering the United States were still fighting in World War l. Due to a rapidly increasing population in the city, the building had an addition in 1929 to match the original architectural style. The final three-story addition, completed in 1930, was designed in the Art Deco style.  

The Fidelity Building Association, original owners of the building, occupied the first two floors with its offices from 1919 until 1949. The building was designed to house doctors’ and dentists’ offices, supporting medical services such as a medical library, meeting rooms, and pharmacy. The Fidelity Medical Building provided Dayton area residents with a one-stop shop to consult with physicians, dentists, specialists and X-ray technicians until the early 1980s. 

Renovation work on the building was performed in 1984-1985 with a limited amount of medical professionals retaining office space until the early 1990s. The WROU-FM radio station, along with other various tenants, occupied the building starting around 1985.  

The Fidelity Building's remaining tenants were evacuated on December 23, 2008 due to burst frozen water pipes, which flooded the building. The building has remained in a de facto abandoned state since the evacuation. Currently, the building's owner of almost ten years is Karim Haber, a Columbus, Ohio-based real estate developer.  

What could the future hold for the Fidelity Building? 

"Karim Haber is currently seeking financing for a mixed use project with housing/first floor commercial for the adaptive reuse of the Fidelity Building," said Amy Walbridge, a planner for the City of Dayton.  

This building is not currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, that could change soon. 

“The Fidelity Building is listed as a local landmark and has an approved National Register Questionnaire, a necessary step in the National Register process,” said City of Dayton planner Tony Kroeger. 

"A historic designation for the building makes way for Karim and his team to apply for state and federal historic tax credits, which are paramount to the repositioning of the building," Walbridge said. 

"Whatever eventually occurs there, we look forward to the stabilization and reuse of another historic building in downtown,” Kroeger added.

 

Special thanks to Tony Kroeger & Amy Walbridge from the City of Dayton's Planning Department for providing historical information and additional resources for this series.

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