Fort Piqua Plaza
In 1891, when the Richardson Romanesque-style Fort Piqua Hotel was built in the heart of downtown Piqua, the elegant and impressive building was an immediate community treasure. The 103-room luxury hotel became a popular gathering place for numerous events and also soon welcomed numerous dignitaries, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, as well as other notable public figures Harry Houdini and John Phillips Sousa. For many years the Fort Piqua Hotel was the city's best-known and most-admired building, even earning the name "a poem of stone".
Over the years, the hotel underwent many physical changes as well as many changes in owners, proprietors and managers. By the 1970s, the 85,000 square foot building was all but vacant and was in desparate need of renovation. Plans for revitalizing the building included upscale apartments, a senior citizens residence, a shopping plaza, and even as another luxury hotel. None of these uses were considered viable enough to attract funding. Consequently, the building sat vacant and unused for decades.
In 2001, the City of Piqua boldly decided to create a non-profit development corporation to transform the dilapidated old hotel into a restored community anchor to house the community's library. Creative use of State Historic Tax Credits, Federal Historic Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits were critical pieces in the massive effort to move the project forward. Grant funding from the Ohio Department of Development and the State of Ohio's Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund program were also important financial tools utilized to remake this historical structure. Even more telling of the community's committment to the project was the $4 million in private donations located from local philanthropists and everday citizens - a remarkable achievement for a community of 20,000 people.
The $22 million restoration project began in January 2007. The timing was appropriate, fitting in with the new Municipal Government Complex, the Linear Park and general downtown rehabilitation and streetscaping. A grand opening ceremony for the newly renamed Fort Piqua Plaza took place in October 2008. The grand opening ceremony was attended by United States Senator George Voinovich, who stated, "This is an example of the good that can happen when people come together." Close to 3,000 people attended the event to tour the building, which now houses the Piqua Public Library, a chocolate and coffee shop, a fine dining restaurant and a banquet facility.
The Fort Piqua Plaza has been recognized with several awards, including a 2009 Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.