Omega Baptist, city in negotiations on new building design

A highly anticipated project in northwest Dayton hit a snag after the city’s planning board criticized the design and asked for updated plans, which owner’s representatives originally said could lead to significant delays.

Dayton's Plan Board this week asked Omega Baptist Community Development Corp. to revise and add more detail to its development plan for the proposed Hope Center for Families after calling the building design too contemporary for the area and raising concerns about parking, trees and other aspects.

Legal counsel and an owner’s representative for Omega Baptist CDCearlier this week said redesigning the building could jeopardize the project, possibly pushing it back a year or longer.

Reached for comment on Friday, Nick Endsley, legal counsel for Omega Baptist CDC, said they are in discussions with the city to achieve the plan board’s objectives.

“(We) are optimistic that we will soon be able to resolve the issues that have been identified,” he said.

Plan board members said the modifications they requested aren’t major and shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

“It could be just material changes,” said Dayton Plan board member Matt Sauer. “It doesn’t have to be something that substantially changes the building.”

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Omega Baptist CDC wants to build a 28,200-square-foot building on the a northern section of the former United Theological Seminary site at 1800 Harvard Blvd., which the group bought in 2005.

Omega Baptist CDC has demolished a former library and another building on the campus and is in the process of building new senior loft housing.

The new Hope Center will be two stories and will have daycare on the first floor and medical and educational services on the second level, according to a Dayton city staff report.

The proposed building has brick and stone veneers, metal panels, windows and towers with metal roofing and clocks on the northwest and southwest corners.

Dayton staff said they are concerned that the contemporary design of the building does not fit well into the surrounding area. Metal panels on the second floor of the proposed building are uncharacteristic of the surrounding homes and buildings, staff said.

City staff recommended approval of Omega Baptist CDC’s development plan, but with six recommended conditions related to landscaping, signage, car and bicycle parking and other aspects.

For instance, board members said they want to make sure the project does not lead to the removal of too many existing mature trees and want a tree inventory and site plan.

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The Dayton Plan Board decided to approve the development plan conditionally, but added a seventh recommendation to modify elements of the building.

The patterns of windows and doors on the building are not contextually appropriate based on the architectural style of homes in the area and the buildings on the campus, said Sauer, plan board member.

Plan board member Beverly Pendergast said the building design doesn't seem to fit in. "It's just too contemporary," she said.

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The Plan Board considered tabling the case, but was persuaded to approve it conditionally after hearing from people representing Omega Baptist CDC.

The new center has a roughly $12 million budget that requires millions of dollars in tax incentives and a sizable commercial loan, said Ken Conaway, an owner’s rep for Omega Baptist CDC.

Many of the plan recommendations should be easy to accomplish, like connecting a walking path to the sidewalk and providing signage, lighting and tree plans and a greater parking setback, he said.

Failing to get conditional approval would have negatively impacted the project’s timeline to close on financing and its pursuit of tax credits, Conaway said.

However, significant revisions to the building elevations could “jeopardize” the project, said Endsley, legal counsel for Omega Baptist CDC on Tuesday.

“The project could be delayed likely for a year at least,” Endsley said.

But reached for comment Friday, Endsley sounded more optimistic about being able to meet the plan board’s conditions.

Plan board members said they wanted to see fewer facade materials and more brick and possibly different kinds of windows.

“In my opinion, we’re trying to make this building and site fit in a compatible manner in this neighborhood that surrounds it,” said Jeff Payne, board member.

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