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Published: Friday, December 27, 2019 @ 7:24 PM
HARRISON TWP. — Demolition has started on the former Hotel Dayton, a longtime Harrison Twp. eyesore made even more of a nuisance by the Memorial Dayton tornadoes.
Damaged beyond repair by the tornado, the skeleton of the 230-room structure just off Interstate 75 north of downtown has been one of the most visible reminders of the May 27 night in which 16 tornadoes touched down in the western half of the state.
“It’s much more dangerous right now. It’s wide open to the public,” said Kris McClintick, township administrator. “We need to get that down as soon as possible.”
The hotel at 2301 Wagner Ford Road — previously branded a Holiday Inn and later Ramada Plaza — has been in limbo for about a decade, sold off in a 2o10 tax lien sale and repurchased more recently by a new owner intent to reopen it before the storm.
“It’s been an eyesore and they’ve had a lot of issues with vandals and water leaks, mold, bed bugs and then the tornado on top of that,” said John Scott, president of Bladecutter’s Inc., the demolition contractor. “So it was the last straw with the tornado.”
Workers are currently bringing down the five-story concrete and steel tower built in 1991. Demolition of an older section of the hotel dating to 1961 is on hold until the company works through an asbestos removal plan with the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, Scott said.
Wichita, Kansas-based MK Hospitality, a professional hotel management and acquisition company, bought the Harrison Twp. property in April 2016 for $1.8 million with an intent to invest $3 million to $4 million, but sold it several months later for $2.1 million.
Dayton Fun Hotels LLC, the current owner, applied for demolition permits in October after the structure became irreparable.
The company hasn’t determined yet what will become of the property once demolition is complete, said Sam Singh, owner and CEO.
“I cannot tell you 100% what we are going to do right now,” he said Friday from his home in California. “That will be after we have done this.”
The company had roughly $8 million into the project before Memorial Day, including a recently completed $5 million project to mitigate water damage before the storm hit, Singh said.
Dayton Fun Hotels was insured for the loss and will also pay for the demolition, which will likely cost at least $750,000, he said.
Harrison Twp. was hit hard by the EF4 tornado that demolished businesses and homes along North Dixie Drive and Wagner Ford Road. County officials calculated 15% of parcels in the township received damage from the tornado.
Though a vast majority of damaged Montgomery County structures — 89% — were residential, 387 — or 9% — were commercial or industrial properties.
The tornado also destroyed a Marathon gas station directly across Wagner Ford Road from the hotel.
Business owner Tom Shaqra believed the gas station was insured, but learned after the storm that his insurance had been cancelled because one of his managers had failed to pay the premiums, he said.
“We had no clue about it,” Shaqra said.
Shaqra said he hopes to rebuild in the spring. He paid out of pocket to remove the debris and had an architect submit drawings to the county, but financing at a low interest rate — ideally between 3 or 4 percent — has been hard to secure, he said. Shaqra was denied loan assistance from the Small Business Administration and said he’s been offered interest rates twice that.
On the west side of Interstate 75, the North Plaza shopping center has been razed. But a new Restaurant Depot rises — for the second time. The $7 million dollar project was weeks away from opening when the tornado hit. The company knocked down what was left standing and ordered a new building. The restaurant supplier could open by spring, according to the company.
Scott said demolition of the hotel is expected to take two months and will clear up an unsightly six acres.
“The neighbors are very happy. The township’s happy it’s being torn down,” he said. “I think once it’s torn down, there will be new economic development where somebody will come in and put a nice gas station or maybe another new hotel in this area.”
Reporters Chris Stewart and Josh Sweigart examine what’s next for tornado-damaged properties abandoned by owners as well as explain what they learned walking along the path of the most powerful Memorial Day twister.