An organization responsible for preserving sites key to aviation history is negotiating for the purchase of the former Wright factory buildings in Dayton, the world’s first purpose-built manufacturing site for airplanes.
Home Avenue Redevelopment, the private entity that owns the factory buildings and surrounding 54 acres of property, is negotiating with the National Aviation Heritage Alliance on the purchase.
The historic property is about halfway between downtown and the Veteran Affairs Medical Center off West Third Street, between Third and U.S. 35, which runs to the south of the site.
Aviation pioneers and Dayton residents Orville and Wilbur Wright built the first buildings in 1910 and 1911 as an airplane production operation, the world’s first. More than 100 airplanes were built there.
NAHA has offered $1 million for the property, Tony Sculimbrene, NAHA executive director, said Wednesday. Home Avenue Redevelopment purchased the site in December 2012 with the intent of remediating the site’s environmental issues and selling it, he said.
“They came to the table fully aware that this property has an historic site on it,” Sculimbrene said.
The land for decades was also home to Inland and Delphi manufacturing plants. The Delphi plant was torn down in 2013.
NAHA intends to sell about seven acres to the Dayton Metro Library for a new branch, Sculimbrene said. And it will seek a developer to bring advanced manufacturing to one of the site’s parcels, he said. Already, NAHA leaders have met with other developers concerning that part of the project, he said.
Besides plans involving the library and a hoped-for manufacturer, NAHA also intends to sell the hangar-shaped buildings 1 and 2 to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
“This is a multi-step process,” Sculimbrene said.
He hopes to have negotiations wrapped up by year’s end, and he said talks are going smoothly.
“We had a meeting of the minds on what we were going to pay for this property,” Sculimbrene said.
Brad White, a vice president with Mason’s Hull & Associates and a principal in Home Avenue Redevelopment, said the entity is not marketing the site through a broker as it might with another property.
Hull focuses on this kind of work, making redevelopment of brownfields possible, White said. There are other ways of transforming the site, but this way also works, he said.
“Because the NAHA people have a a lot of vision for the site … it works well for us,” he said.
NAHA is a private not-for-profit focused on preserving and developing local sites associated with Dayton’s role in aviation history.