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Leaky roof could cost jobs

Albert Naggar, owner of Process Equipment Co. (PECo), announced plans April 1 to transform an old McCall Street plant into the home for his four area manufacturing facilities. The move would bring an estimated 250 jobs to Dayton over five years.

But Naggar said he has run into a problem. Bids to repair the roof at 2333 McCall St. are far higher than Naggar expected.

Naggar’s contract with Dayton city government includes a $750,000 Ohio Job Ready Sites Grant for repairing or replacing the building’s roof. But the bids “are a lot higher than that,” Naggar said.

PECo — a designer and producer of industrial machines — has applied for a $500,000 Montgomery County ED/GE (Economic Development/Government Equity) grant and is seeking investor support. But Naggar said consolidating his company’s facilities into one factory must make sense.

“It has to make financial sense. There’s a point in time when it doesn’t.”

Naggar, a partner in three private equity funds and a resident of Manhattan, added: “The biggest challenge is how much is the renovation going to cost, and how are we going to fund that?”

The city of Dayton owns the building. Timothy Downs, Dayton deputy development director, said the city is aware of the roof’s condition. He said seven-figure bids on roof repair don’t surprise him. The city has seen bids as high as about $1.3 million to $1.4 million on the roof.

“Bottom line is, we’re very much committed to getting to PECo in there,” Downs said.

The 348,000-square-foot building sits on about 50 acres between U.S. 35 and Ohio 4 in west Dayton. In 2005, SOS Metals occupied the building as a steel processing site.

Today, the plant is empty. A walk through it reveals holes in the roof through which the sky is visble. Puddles of water dot the plant floor.

Naggar’s agreement with Dayton gives him some latitude. If renovating and moving to the site cost him more than $7.5 million, then the company can step away. If the company can’t obtain sufficient financing or if there ‘s an environmental issue “that we can’t solve or the city doesn’t solve for us,” the company can similarly step away, Naggar said.

PECo is still investing money and time into making the building work. Naggar expects to make a decision by early July.

Bill Rosenberg, PECo’s CEO, believes the ED/GE grant would. The ED/GE Advisory Committee and county officials will visit the site in a bus tour May 10.

The company is also working with Citywide Development, Dayton’s public-private development arm, to win federal and state assistance, Rosenberg said.

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