Dayton city commissioners on Wednesday approved a contract with Kentucky firm Green City Demolition to remove fire-damaged structures and debris at the Deeds Avenue and Cincinnati Street properties as well as backfill, landscape and seed the sites.
Parts of the former Hewitt Soap Factory at Hamilton and Linden Avenues went up in flames overnight Thursday in east Dayton.
Green City Demolition also will take down a large industrial facility on Deeds Avenue and clean up the site, if there’s sufficient funding once the other projects are complete.
The soap factory closed in 2004 and caught fire in December, with 90-foot-flames lighting up the night sky and reducing huge portions of the facility to rubble, which has spilled onto the sidewalk and into the street.
In March, Dayton spokeswoman Toni Bankston told this news organization that the city was working through the legal process to get the site cleaned up.
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The Cincinnati Street commercial property was knocked down for safety reasons, but the site is still littered with bricks and other debris that needs to be removed.
The long vacant Deeds Avenue plant, located in Old North Dayton, was set ablaze in February 2016, which was at least the sixth time that it was set on fire.
On Wednesday afternoon, about 10 children were playing inside the decaying structure, which is troubling for 73-year-old Millie Seals, who lives diagonally across from the former automotive parts plant.
About a year ago, a young boy who was playing on the roof of the building fell off and landed hard on the cement, nearly killing himself, said Seals, who has lived at her Deeds Avenue home for 53 years.
In addition to children playing in the building, transients and apparent drug users also hang out and take shelter in the structure, Seals said.
The arson fires also have alarmed neighbors who fear the fiery ashes could drift across the street and make contact with their homes, spreading the blaze.
“I really want to see it come down,” Seals said.
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The project will be paid for using city general fund dollars and federal Community Development Block Grant funding.
But the city will attempt to seek reimbursement from the property owners.
“We do go after property owners to recoup the funding that we have spent,” said City Manager Dickstein. “But these are commercial structures that absolutely have to be cleaned up because they are unsafe and a real blight to the community.”