The Landmark Commission’s approval Thursday of a plan to convert a commercial building into condominiums marks the first step in adding housing to the Oregon Historic District and a continuation of a growth in residential construction downtown.
“We have a very strong demand for downtown housing,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “Occupancy is very high — 94, 95, 96 percent. We need more housing options.”
Gudorf points to last year’s construction of the Patterson Square townhouse development near Fifth Third Field. The 18 units sold within a year; the developer, Charles Simms, thought he would sell five.
Simms now believes there is a pent up demand for downtown housing. “We are starting to see some choices in housing.”
The Excelsior Condominiums is a “great location. Oregon is pretty well built out. That’s why this piece is so attractive,” Simms said.
The three-story concrete building was erected in 1915 as Excelsior Laundry Co. The owner, Midtown Development Corp., purchased the building in 2006 for $650,000 and announced it would invest $4 million to convert the building into 20 condos, ranging in price from $275,000 to $475,000, by late 2007. That plan never reached fruition, said Roane Smothers, principal planner for the commission.
Now Midtown is partnering with Oberer Thompson on the project. Bill Hibner of Oberer Thompson said the new $2 million-plus project would create 18 condos with prices expected to be below $200,000.
The plan calls for adding two exterior staircases that would remove some windows and doors. Resident parking would be in the building’s basement. The commission offered several suggestions, including the requirement to retain the windows. “I would hate to see the glass go because of the symmetry,” member Frederick Holley said. Hibner said he saw no immediate problem with the requirement.
Gudorf and others said success can depend on price.
“The price point is very important, especially for the young professionals who are drawn to downtown,” Gudorf said.
Simms’ townhouses were priced between $140,000 and $165,000. Now Sims is launching Rubicon Square, a seven-unit development near Miami Valley Hospital. Those will go for between $145,000 and $165,000.
“We’ve been able to move the price up a little bit,” Simms said. “We haven’t seen that since 2006.”
And he pointed to the Excelsior’s location, just off the new Patterson Boulevard Art Corridor that will connect the ball field with the Oregon District. “The city has done excellent job on the Patterson corridor. I think it’s a perfect location.”
Steve Siebolt, a longtime downtown resident and Realtor, said the project could fill a niche in the Oregon District.
“There is almost nothing left to develop in the Oregon District. And there is a lot of interest in the living there — and not just the young people,” he said.
The state must still approve the exterior changes on the historic structure, according to Smothers.