Developer with plans for Dayton veterans apartments faces opposition elsewhere

A developer wants to build income-controlled apartments for veterans in the Radisson downtown, the former Crowne Plaza, is facing opposition to its plans in other cities. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
A developer wants to build income-controlled apartments for veterans in the Radisson downtown, the former Crowne Plaza, is facing opposition to its plans in other cities. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

No zoning or variance request has yet been filed with Dayton government

Veterans Services USA has said little publicly in the past month about plans to transform rooms in the former Crowne Plaza hotel downtown into affordable apartments for older veterans.

But some cities are rejecting the nonprofit organization’s plans.

The Marietta, Ga. City Council voted Wednesday evening to deny a rezoning application that would have seen part of a Radisson Hotel in that city repurposed into low-cost senior apartments for veterans.

Veterans Services USA buys struggling hotels, convert parts of those buildings to apartments and markets them as income-controlled apartments to veterans.

“Typically, the properties we buy are already in distress,” Dan McNulty, a principal of Veterans Services USA, told the Marietta City Council earlier in July.

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In June, an alliance of Radisson Hotel Group Americas and Lockwood Development Partners, with Veteran Services USA, was formed to purchase the former Crowne Plaza hotel at 33 E. Fifth St. across from the Dayton Convention Center, with the intent of transforming some of the rooms into apartments for veterans.

The Dayton hotel was part of a total 10-property hotel portfolio totaling more than 1.6 million square feet, purchased for $225 million. Also purchased were hotels in Austin and Houston, Texas; Jackson, Miss., Marietta; Memphis, Tenn., Orlando, Fla. and Reading, Pa.,

The hotel portion of the Dayton building has been rebranded as Radisson.

The developer has not started a rezoning or reuse process with Dayton yet.

“We are not in receipt of a rezoning application for that property (or variance or any other kind of board process like that),” Tony Kroeger, the city of Dayton’s division manager for planning and land use, said Friday.

“We are the sum of our parts, and by harnessing the acumen behind Radisson, Commonwealth, and Lockwood we are delivering on our promise to create a new standard for adaptive re-use projects by serving communities across the United States.” Charles Everhardt, principal in Lockwood Development Partners, said in a press release sent to the Dayton Daily News last month. “This dynamic partnership we have assembled addresses the growing demand for veterans housing and senior daytime care while infusing the latest trends from the hospitality industry under one roof, providing a unique concept spearheaded by category leaders.”

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Everhardt did not return messages seeking comment.

The pandemic weakened the hotel industry nationwide, which created opportunities for these investments, McNulty is quoted as saying in news accounts.

“This is a mission-based organization that I think you’re going to find is going to be great for the community,” McNulty told the Pocatella, Idaho City Council in a Nov. 19 meeting downloaded on You Tube.

“For me, the things that I’ve done over my career in real estate, this is ... probably the most fulfilling and most exciting and the coolest ... That is more than just a real estate play,” a Marietta newspaper quoted McNulty as saying.

Attempts to reach McNulty were not successful.

Barbara Guerren, a spokeswoman for Commonweath Hotels, former owner of what was downtown Dayton’s Crowne Plaza, did not respond to questions about plans in Dayton, but offered to follow up in a few weeks.

“I expect we will have news to share in the next month,” Guerren said Friday.

In Marietta, some council members expressed misgivings about Lockwood’s plans there.

“It’s going to turn into an extended stay hotel,” Councilman Grif Chalfant was quoted as saying in a Marietta newspaper. Messages seeking comment were sent to Chalfant and Bill Bruton, the Marietta city manager.

Veterans Services USA plans also faced opposition in Tulsa, Okla. The Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted against recommending the zoning change for the project there, according to the Tulsa World newspaper.

However, last year in Idaho, Lockwood was able to win a conditional use permit from the Pocatello City Council to proceed with plans to turn an inn into a 125-unit apartment site for veterans over age 55, with an on-site adult daycare and a workforce training and education center.

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However, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad told the Dayton Daily News that Lockwood/Veterans Services withdrew their project.

“We don’t have the details about why, but they are not proceeding in Pocatello,” Blad said.

No reason was given to the city, officials said.

“The city approved the project and were excited for the opportunity to serve the veterans in the community and revitalize an older hotel at the same time,” Brent McLane, Pocatello planning and development services director, told the Dayton Daily News.