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Revitalization Of Historic Defiance Building Expected To Spur Downtown Development

Blog post by: Regional Growth Partnership Northwest Ohio

Renovations have begun at an iconic downtown Defiance building, setting the stage for what many believe will spur further development in the Northwest Ohio community.

Located at the corner of Clinton and Second streets, the three-story building is situated at the busiest intersection in Defiance. Planning for the renovated historic structure is slated to be a mixed-use development, including a restaurant, office space and potentially daily rental rooms. Developers anticipate the project generating additional vibrancy and foot traffic downtown.

“I’m a dreamer,” said Bryan Keller, owner of the building and president and CEO of Defiance-based Keller Logistics, explaining why he risked his own money on the revitalization project. “This has been an eyesore the last 20 years and I felt, as a gift to Defiance, we would fix up this building.”

The 15,000 square-foot structure, currently known as 300 Clinton Building, was built in 1875 and previously recognized as Stone Front Building.

The $5 million project included support through the JobsOhio Vibrant Community Grant which assists distressed small and medium sized communities with the implementation of catalytic development projects that fulfill a market need and represent a significant reinvestment in areas that have struggled to attract new investment. The project is also expected to create at least 25 new jobs.

“This renovation will refurbish a historic building in downtown Defiance that has stood empty for more than a decade. Once complete, this iconic space will spark economic opportunity, attracting people, jobs and entertainment to the heart of Defiance.”– J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio President and CEO

According to Mark Baringer of NAI Harmon, plans are to attract a restaurant for the ground-level first floor, with potential for outdoor dining. Offices are being built for the second and third floors, including 5,000 square feet for Keller Logistics.

Jake Oberlin, a partner with Keller on the project, said they were unsuccessful in securing state and federal historic preservation tax credits, so they decided to move forward on their own. “We are hoping this revitalization might serve as a catalyst for rehabbing other downtown buildings, allow other businesses to stay open longer, and bring more people down here.”

Defiance is currently growing with industrial, office and commercial growth and is a target for site selection. Building a vibrant downtown to attract talent and traditional economic development will enhance that growth, said Erika Willitzer, Executive Director, Defiance County Economic Development.

“JobsOhio and the Regional Growth Partnership’s support through the Vibrancy Grant Program made the ultimate difference in this project happening. It takes a lot of resources bringing a historical building back to life. Bryan Keller and Jake Oberlin have been a godsend to our community for taking it on. With the Vibrancy program, and Keller and Oberlin’s will to create a dynamic space, we see 300 Clinton Street as becoming a cornerstone/catalyst for Defiance’s downtown economy.”– Erika Willitzer, Executive Director, Defiance County Economic Development

The renovation is expected to be completed in mid-2025.

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