DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – One of the biggest eyesores in the city of Dayton is close to being cleaned up. A demolition company says the site of the former Hewitt Soap Factory on Linden Avenue should be finished in about a month, with green grass by the end of the summer.
It will be a drastic change for a building that withstood two crippling fires and years of abandonment.
John Scott is the President of Bladecutter’s Inc. He says, “It has a great history of making soaps, a lot of people worked here over the years. It had good paying jobs at one time. But when the jobs moved out the building fell into disrepair.”
The two devastating fires -the last in November 2017- rendered the building unusable. It sat vacant until the owner finally hired Bladecutter’s Inc. to demolish the building. This second phase has been underway for three months.
Scott’s crews must be careful and deliberate. The demo was delayed for a time when asbestos was discovered, which had to be carefully removed from the site. Scott says it takes “a lot more planning, a lot bigger concrete foundations, a lot more material coming out.”
Just about everything salvaged from the site has value, either sentimental or financial. Bricks that were found in good condition were gifted to family members of the original employees. And scrap metal, like stainless-steel tanks, can be sold for profit.
Scott says, “90% of the material coming out of here, from concrete, wood, metal, will all be recycled.” John expects to salvage 400 tons of metal and 3k tons of concrete, which will be recycled into usable materials.
He says the project “should be done within a month. And in two months we should have nice, green grass growing here. So it’ll be a nice grassy lot ready for redevelopment.”
He says a project like this can start to improve nearby property values. “I think a project like this will uplift the value of the entire neighborhood. It will not be such an eyesore. People invest in houses so the neighborhood will be reinvented and look a lot better once we’re finished. And property values will go up all around.”
Reaction was mixed from the neighbors and nearby employees we spoke with. They didn’t want to go on camera, but some were skeptical that change would come quickly after the building sat largely untouched for years, adding they don’t know if developers will want to come to the neighborhood.
But Scott is confident change will come. “I noticed a lot of people are rehabbing houses in this neighborhood, there are a lot of neat houses. And I think this area is the next big area to be developed and reinvented here in the Dayton area.”
So far no plans have been announced for this site once the demolition is complete.