NEW DETAILS: Developer plans to transform 158-year-old Oregon District church

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

We take you inside Monument Walk, a Charlie Simms development in Downtown Dayton. Video by Amelia Robinson

The developer purchasing a 158-year-old Oregon District church says the building’s next chapter might involve a restaurant, apartments and shops. 

>> MORE: Iconic church in the Oregon District being sold

As this news organization first reported, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church located at 239 Wayne Ave. is in the process of being sold to Weyland Ventures, the developers of The Wheelhouse project, located nearby at 210 Wayne Ave. 

>> Construction boom: 10 downtown Dayton projects

Mariah Gratz, Weyland Ventures’ CEO, said her Louisville-based company is evaluating the best use of the church, but it could be the future site of retail business and a restaurant. 

The parish hall could be used as housing, she said. 

“We have some initial concepts. We have not finalized that,” she said. “We have to finish up our market studies and analysis.” 

>> PHOTOS: Look inside the new Wheelhouse Lofts in Dayton’s Oregon District

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church pastor Robert E. Miller confirmed that the church at 239 Wayne Ave. will close after Christmas service 2017.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

St. Paul’s will close December 31. The church dates back to 1859. Its steeple was built around 1869, and the parish hall in 1954.

Gratz said the company plans to keep the building’s features. 

“We love historic buildings,” she said. “We try to save them, especially the ones that have good bones and and stories to tell.” 

The Wheelhouse Lofts are in the historic Weustoff and Getz building, which was constructed in 1868. 

Tom GilliamWheelhouse Lofts is the adaptive reuse of the historic Weustoff and Getz building, once used as a machine shop, tool room and assembly room for automobiles. The four-story building is being converted into 40 loft-style apartments with restaurant and retail space on the first floor. Troll Pub Under the Bridge, a 6,500 square foot bar and restaurant with a courtyard will be among the tenants.(Tom Gilliam/Tom Gilliam)

>> RELATED: City works to preserve ‘rich urban fabric’ (Aug. 12, 2015) 

That development includes a 40-unit apartment building and a Troll Pub restaurant and bar location.

Speakeasy Yoga also plans to open a second location in the Wheelhouse building, Gratz told this news organization. 

St. Paul pastor Robert E. Miller said in July that the church will close at the end of the year and was looking for a buyer.

The church now has fewer than 100 members and many are elderly. The average age of a worshiper is 73. The church can only pay 40 percent of its bills through collections. The rest comes from its dwindling investment fund. 

Earlier this week, Miller said the congregation intends to “pay it forward” by supporting charitable causes and its employees. Additional details will be released later about its plans. 

Gratz said the building’s sale is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. The building fits into the Weyland’s overall plans for development in Dayton, she said. More development is possible. 

“We always have our eye on the area,” Gratz said. “We will be looking for strategic pieces when they pop up.” 


3 facts that will amaze you about Dayton’s history

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 12:29 PM

Familiar landmarks make up Dayton’s scenery but some of the details behind these institutions may not be as well known.

From the early days of rock music icons to a dog with nerves of steel, the history of the Miami Valley region is full of interesting details.

Here are three you should know: 

» RELATED: 12 remarkable facts about Dayton history you need to know

» RELATED: Quirky facts you might not know about Dayton’s suburbs

1. This Irish Setter was the bravest of all time. Darke County sharpshooter Annie Oakley may have owned the bravest Irish Setter of all time. Oakley, known as “Little Miss Sure Shot,” and her husband adopted a fearless dog named Dave. The dog sat like a statue on a stool and let Oakley shoot an apple off of its head. 

2. The Rolling Stones bombed in Dayton. The Rolling Stones performed at Hara Arena in 1964, just two years after the band formed. A Dayton Daily News critic panned their appearance, describing it as “rag-tag” and the music as “their brand of noise.” (READ MORE about that appearance, including the review.)

3. Standing room only. One of Dayton’s biggest crowds ever welcomed a monument that still stands. When the Civil War Soldiers Monument was unveiled downtown in 1884, a crowd of 100,000 people turned out, one of the city’s largest at a time when Dayton’s population was reported to be 40,000. The model for the tribute was Pvt. George Washington Fair, a carpenter and bricklayer who was born in Dayton.


» Did you know: Two of Dayton’s most famous people ever were high school buddies

» Greene County Fair: 5 things to know about the “oldest fair west of the Alleghenies’

» 7 things you didn’t know about Xenia’s history

» Miamisburg: 7 things to know about the community’s 220-year history

UPDATE: Appeals court reduces restaurateur Eva Christian’s prison sentence

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 11:47 AM

Eva Christian renews her fight to get prison sentence reduced

The Ohio 2nd District Court of Appeals issued a ruling this morning, Friday Oct. 20, that — if it stands — will reduce the length of imprisoned former Dayton restaurant owner Eva Christian’s sentence.

The ruling will not result in Christian’s immediate release from the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, where she has served more than five years of what was a nine-year prison sentence for insurance fraud-related charges. The case will now return to the trial court judge, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara P. Gorman, for re-sentencing that is in alignment with the appeals-court judges’ ruling.

>> RELATED: How a local restaurateur fell from grace

That ruling shaves a year off Christian’s maximum sentence. 

Eva Christian at her initial sentencing in 2012, shortly after being convicted of five felony counts following a jury trial. Staff file photo by Jim Witmer(Staff Writer)

If Judge Gorman imposes the maximum eight-year sentence, Christian would still have to serve nearly three more years before release, with a projected release date of May 2020, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections records.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has said it will urge federal officials to deport Christian whenever she is released from prison. Christian was born in Croatia and raised in Germany, and has German citizenship.

>> RELATED: 7 things to know about Eva Christian and why she’s in prison

The appeals court judges agreed with Christian’s court-appointed post-conviction attorney, Brock Schoenlein, that Judge Gorman exceeded her authority when she re-imposed a nine-year sentence to Christian after the severity of some of the five felony counts Christian was convicted of was reduced on appeal. Montgomery County prosecutors had argued that the judge was well within her sentencing rights and urged appeals-court judges to keep Christian’s nine-year sentence intact.

Prosecutors have the option of challenging the appeals court ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court. A spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said late Friday that prosecutors were reviewing the court of appeals decision and would decide within the next few days whether to challenge it.

Christian owned and operated Cafe Boulevard (later Boulevard Haus) in Dayton’s Oregon District for 15 years. The criminal case involved break-ins and a 2009 fire that Christian reported and which prosecutors said were staged in order to collect insurance money: one break-in at her Washington Twp. home and a reported vandalism and fire at what was then her second restaurant, Cena Brazilian Steakhouse in front of the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. A jury convicted Christian in 2012 of five counts related to insurance fraud and running a crime ring.

>> RELATED: Restaurant owner renews fight to get prison sentence reduced (February 2017)

In this file photo from 2009, Eva Christian stands in the window of what was then her Oregon District restaurant, Cafe Boulevard. Staff file photo by Jim Witmer(Staff Writer)

The appeal of Christian’s conviction has taken a slow and circuitous path through the courts, bouncing among the Ohio Supreme Court, the 2nd Court of Appeals and Montgomery County Common Pleas court multiple times.

At her re-sentencing hearing in July 2016, Christian told the judge she was sorry for the pain she caused family, friends and the employees of her restaurants, whom she said she also considered family. She said she didn’t realize four years earlier how much impact her actions would have on those close to her.

>> RELATED:Eva Christian wanted to ‘blow up’ Dayton Mall restaurant

“It has consumed me and is haunting me every day,” Christian said. She urged the judge, “Please give me a chance to be a law-abiding citizen.”

Gorman was not persuaded. The judge noted that Christian tearfully pleaded for leniency four years earlier in the very same courtroom — only at that time, she was still firmly denying that she was guilty of any of the charges against her.

“I don’t know if you’ve really made a change, or if you’re a really good actress,” Judge Gorman told Christian.

Owner of Gilly’s willing to sell downtown Dayton club

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 2:26 PM

Some Dayton-area venues for local music.

The owner of an iconic downtown music venue says the future of his business is very uncertain.

Gerald “Jerry” Gillotti, the owner of Gilly’s Jazz at 132 S. Jefferson St., said he has a month-to-month agreement for that property with the city of Dayton.

As much as he would like to continue, Gillotti says he has faced reality. 

“I am 80 years old,” he said. “I don’t have the health or the stamina or the years left or days left.”

Gillotti was robbed and viciously attacked at his club around 4 p.m. on March 16, 2016. He suffered a serious brain injury. 
>> RELATED: Gilly’s Jazz owner injured in robbery

>> RELATED: Can you ID suspect in Gilly’s Jazz attack, robbery 

He says he has not fully recovered and relies on his wife for transportation. 

His brother helps him run Gilly’s. 

Benefit being planned for attacked business owner Jerry Gillotti of Gilly's. (Source: Archive)

Gillotti says he has entertained four recent offers to sell the business, but none of the offers were good. The business is not officially listed for sale, he said. 

The month-to-month agreement with the city also compromises matters, he said. 

Reached via text, Toni Bankston, the city of Dayton’s chief communication officer, said that Gillotti some time ago told city officials about his plans to eventually sell Gilly’s and have the new owner assume his lease. 

>> MORE: This downtown building is being turned into an event, rock venue 

“The city policy would not allow a new owner to simply assume the lease,” she said. “So we agreed to give the current owner a lease that is month-to-month. This would make it easier if and when the property needs to be turned over.”

Gillotti’s last lease with the city ended in May. 

>> RELATED: Where to see live music in Dayton

The business has operated in the space since 1972. It has hosted a list of artists, including Tony BennettB.B. King and John Lee Hooker

“I’ve had every jazz artist in the world,” he said. 

The Dayton Blues Society recently canceled its winter blues showcase at Gilly’s scheduled for Jan. 13. Gillotti said he could not guarantee his business would still be open. 

>> 10 reasons we love the Fifth Street and the Oregon District, and why you should, too

Jerry Gillotti(Staff photo by Darin Pope)

The uncertainty of the month-to-month arrangement has also made it difficult for him to book bands in the future. He would have to front money, assuming the business would still be there. 

“I can’t be tied up with a month-to-month,” he said. 

>> PHOTOS: A look inside of The Steam Plant, Dayton’s newest venue

Because Gilly’s is a “show bar” as opposed to a traditional bar, Gillotti said he often has to pay acts up to 50 percent in advance to perform. 

Despite his current predicament, Gillotti said he can’t complain. 

I’ve had (45) years, and they have been good years,” he said. “I haven’t made a lot of money to be honest with you, but it is a passion to present the music in the right way.”  

>> Levitt pavilion moves toward construction

Gillotti at his club in 1977.(Contributed)

Oh, my gourd! Celebrate all things pumpkin on Monday

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 8:01 AM

What could possibly say “fall” more than pumpkins? On Monday, Oct. 23, head out to the Park at Austin Landing for the first annual Pumpkins in the Park with Kettering Physicians Network event. From 3-7 p.m., you and your family can enjoy a FREE event that will celebrate everything pumpkin.

Internationally prominent carvers will be on hand to create amazing pieces of art from giant, 500-pound pumpkins live, while you watch. There also will be a display of more than 50 individually carved pumpkins, and you and your family can try your own hands at pumpkin art by visiting the carving station. 

If you’re feeling exceptionally crafty, you can sign up for the pumpkin carving class being conducted by master carver Chad Hartson, who recently was a finalist on Holiday Cake Wars as part of Team Winter Wonders. Pumpkins and carving tools will be provided to participants, and the class starts at 5 p.m. Although the class is currently full, you can check the sign-up page here to see if any openings come up.

Additional family fun includes free face painting, glitter tattoos, bounce houses, photo booth and giant games. Kettering Sports Medicine will host a tug-of-war for those who want more active fun, and Kettering Physicians Network will be on-site to provide health information, blood pressure checks, giveaways and more. Other artists will be decorating sidewalks and parking areas with a Chalk Art in the Park display, and Ranger Vic will pop in for a visit with the kids.

Host Austin Landing is giving away 300 pumpkins, on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure you show up early for yours. Bring the whole family out for an evening of fall-themed fun at Austin Landing!


    WHAT: Pumpkins in the Park with Kettering Physicians Network

    WHEN: Monday, Oct. 23, from 3-7 p.m. (rain date: Wednesday, Oct. 25)

    WHERE: The Park at Austin Landing (10400 Innovation Dr., Miamisburg)