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Report: Former Hamvention® Home Hara Arena Getting a New Owner

05/02/2018

The Dayton Daily News is reporting that a Louisville, Kentucky-based developer, Michael Heitz, of Garrett-Day LLC Properties, is in the process of buying Hara Arena, which served as home to Dayton Hamvention® from 1964 until 2016. Heitz told the Dayton Daily News that he bought out income tax liens on the property from Montgomery County and is hoping to close on some bank liens later this week. It’s not known how much Heitz has invested in the property so far. The six-building Hara Arena complex includes some 120 acres of real estate, 25 acres alone devoted to parking. Heitz said his priority is to “clean it up and secure the property.” Hara Arena has been visited by camera-carrying urban explorers as well as by vandals since it closed.

The IRS put the Hara Arena complex on the auction block last August to satisfy a tax lien, but no successful bidder came forward. An IRS staff member who was involved in the 2017 auction told ARRL early this year that the agency would not try again to auction the parcel, but suggested that other lienholders, including a mortgage holder and the Town of Trotwood, might go that route. At one point, the asking price for Hara Arena was $775,000.

The Dayton Daily News reported in March that Hara property owners-trustees owed back taxes and around $350,000 to banks. Heitz is known for buying distressed properties and getting them “shovel ready.” He plans a Monday news conference to discuss the purchase and his plans.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Heitz has purchased other properties in the area by buying up tax and property liens, and his reputation for buying up derelict properties and turning them around goes back several years. A former West Virginia University basketball player and distance cyclist, the 7-foot tall Heitz is said to be a fearless investor.

The Wampler family had owned and operated Hara Arena since its humble origins in the 1950s, when Wampler Ballarena — then a dance hall and later an exhibit hall familiar to Hamvention visitors — was built in what had been a family-owned orchard. When Hara closed in August 2016, the estimated economic hit to the Dayton area was said to be $36 million a year. 



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