Riazzi sells downtown Dayton’s Steam Plant events business to Moraine catering company

After nearly a decade of ownership, developer says the time was right

The owner of the Steam Plant in downtown Dayton has sold the events side of the business, configuring a long-term lease so that the new owners will take control of the real estate after a decade.

The sale was completed on Jan. 2, John Riazzi said Friday. The new business owners are Molly and Matt McConnell of Elite Catering, a Moraine catering business that has often worked at the property and is very familiar with it.

The terms of the deal are structured so that the events business at the space is separated from the building, Riazzi said. The new owners signed a 10-year lease for the space, at the end of which, they will take ownership of the building.

Riazzi will own the real estate during those 10 years.

“I think it’s a natural fit,” he said in an interview. “They’ve worked with us for the last several years. They have been our largest caterer with respect to the number of events done a year. We had signed an exclusive catering agreement with them about 10 to 12 months ago. It just seemed like the natural progression.”

Molly McConnell said the deal was a “no-brainer” for her and her husband.

“It’s a first-class place,” she said. “I am super excited to be a part of it, to be part of the neighborhood down here. It’s growing so fast. I love to see all the changes that are happening.”

The city of Dayton sold the plant to Riazzi’s St. Peter Partners LLC for $10 in September 2015, requiring him to invest “several million” dollars into its rehabilitation and reuse.

The recent transaction price was “right around $10 million,” Riazzi said Friday.

“Not a bad return,” he said.

Riazzi spent about $3.8 million renovating the site — a true former Dayton Power & Light steam plant at 617 E. Third St. — into an upscale offices and events space, anchoring it as part of the Webster Station neighborhood’s rebirth.

DP&L closed the plant in the 1980s.

The site which opened in 2017, proved to be a popular place to rent for weddings, parties and special events like Ale-O-Ween.

McConnell said their catering company’s administrative and kitchen functions will remain in the Mandalay banquet center in Moraine.

Riazzi was sentenced in federal court in November 2019 to two years of probation and fined $40,000 for illegally removing asbestos-containing material from a roof of the venue.

Riazzi pleaded guilty in the summer of 2019 to a federal felony charge of failing to thoroughly inspect the facility before renovation.

In a statement at the time, Riazzi said he accepted responsibility for his actions but did not intend to cause harm and did not know or believe asbestos inspection was required.

However, in a draft press release shared with the Dayton Daily News, Riazzi said he “hated to settle,” and called the situation “a great injustice.”

“This sale today is nothing about that,” Riazzi said Friday. “It’s no secret, I kind of got dragged through the mud by the EPA. I just want to balance that out ... At the end of the day, I feel like I really contributed to the community. Webster Station, when I first started, was nowhere near what it is now.”

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