Developer on funk museum: ‘We’d love for them to find a way to be open’

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

A Columbus-based firm’s spokesman said his company would love to see a Dayton museum remain in the downtown entertainment district it is developing.

RELATED: Dayton funk museum closing, but director says ‘we are not finished’ 

But Eric VanZwieten  of the Windsor Companies said he sees funding and lack of regular hours as major challenges for the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center.

“We’d love for them to find a way to be open and for them to be open in the Fire Blocks,” he said. “They just don’t have the funding to hire someone to be there. They have a big problem with funding. Basically they are all volunteering. They all have other own jobs.”

Funk Center CEO and founder David Webb announced Tuesday, March 12, that center would leave 113 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton's Fire Blocks District by the end of the month due to leasing cost financial shortfalls.

>> BACKGROUND: New Fire Blocks developer starts work on $35M project

The long-anticipated center opened there in December 2017 and celebrated its grand opening early in 2018.

Webb told us Wednesday he does not believe not having regular offices hours is a significant issue and that many small museums open appointment only.

Eventually, Webb said he hopes that the center will have regular hours just like institutions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. But that is not possible now, he said.

“You have to call for appointment because everybody is a volunteer,” he said.

“We want to make sure we have security. We have women. We have children. We have people volunteering.”

Webb said more than 6,000 people have visited the center since it opened from as far away as England, Japan and Germany.

A list of musicians that include members of the Steve Miller Band and George Thorogood and The Destroyers have visited the museum.

Webb and Jayne Klose, a Funk Center board member and Community Engagement Manager for the Dayton Metro Library, acknowledged Tuesday that money is a issue.

>> RELATED: Ax throwing and gaming, new restaurants, new bars planned for Fire Blocks, developer says 

The museum began using the Third Street space free of charge under the Ellway Group, the Fire Blocks district’s first developer.

Webb and Klose said it cannot afford to pay the $1,400 a month Windsor Companies is requiring.

On Tuesday, both Webb and Klose said they understood why Windsor would want to receive the market rate for the property once upgrades are made to the district.

They are launching a fundraising campaign for money for a permanent home for the center designed to pay tribute to Dayton’s musical heritage.

donation option is available now on the center's website and a CrowdFundMe campaign is being organized.

The funk music genre put Dayton on the map as the Land of the Funk in the 1970s and '80s, thanks to a stable of groups that included the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington's Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside.

>> MORE: 8 Dayton acts you should give a funk about

The Funk Center plans to hold its first induction dinner at the Schuster Center on Feb. 29, 2020.

VanZwieten said he'd be happy to help find a way for the museum to remain in the Fire Blocks District, noting that the district would soon be an entertainment destination.

He has said six new businesses — bars, restaurants, fitness and cafes  — would be opened in the district.

>> Fire Blocks developer: Grocery store coming to downtown Dayton

VanZwieten announced in February that a group that has not been identified publicly has signed a letter of intent to occupy about 4,000 square feet of space at 119 E. Third St. to use as grocery store that will be like a bodega.

The founders of Gem City Social Sports hope to open a new entertainment destination next to the grocery store that has axe-throwing and other activities.

The Century Bar plans to move to a three story building next door to its current location.

>> RELATED: Century Bar moving to bigger space

VanZwieten said the funk center is great for Dayton.

“We think the funk museum is super cool,” he said. “I’d be more than happy to help them with a fundraiser and kick that off and figure out how to stay in the Fire Blocks.”

About the Author