Fire Blocks developer buys up residential real estate

Fire Blocks developer Windsor Companies has purchased multiple apartment properties in Dayton, including this building at 325 Parkwood Drive in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Fire Blocks developer Windsor Companies has purchased multiple apartment properties in Dayton, including this building at 325 Parkwood Drive in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The company redeveloping the Fire Blocks District has branched out into residential real estate in Dayton and has acquired some small and midsized apartment buildings and properties.

Columbus-based Windsor Companies has invested millions of dollars converting old and deteriorating office and commercial buildings downtown Dayton into new housing, retail and food and beverage space.

But the company has purchased and started fixing up some vacant and rundown apartment buildings in other neighborhoods, including in northwest and east Dayton, according to Montgomery County Auditor real estate records.

Neighbors and others hope the company will have the same kind of success reviving blighted and underutilized residential properties as it has had revitalizing commercial real estate.

“I think rehabbing and renting the property could be a real improvement,” Lindy McDonough, president of the Hillview Neighborhood Association, said about a property Windsor acquired in northwest Dayton. “I have high hopes that it’ll get finished and people will move in.”

Earlier this year, the Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals approved a use variance request submitted by Windsor Homes LLC for two attached apartment buildings at 325 W. Parkwood Drive in the Hillcrest neighborhood.

The company and applicant asked to re-establish occupancy of the buildings, which were constructed in the 1960s but have been vacant for more than a decade.

Windsor Companies has purchased this vacant apartment property at 325 W. Parkwood Drive in northwest Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Windsor Companies has purchased this vacant apartment property at 325 W. Parkwood Drive in northwest Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

The property is one of the largest multi-family structures in the neighborhood but it was neglected and attracted criminal and nuisance activities like illegal dumping, said Susan Vincent, city of Dayton planner.

The property’s nonconforming use as multi-family housing lapsed and was no longer allowed within that eclectic single-family residential zoning district.

But Vincent said city staff supported Windsor’s variance request because redeveloping the property into some other permitted use was not feasible.

“Having someone who is ready to come in and make the investment to redevelop the property really is a benefit to the community,” she said.

Windsor Homes, which paid about $105,000 for the property last November, plans to renovate its 17 apartments, which are two-bedroom units, city staff said.

A site map of the apartments at 325 W. Parkwood Drive in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CONTRIBUTED
A site map of the apartments at 325 W. Parkwood Drive in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CONTRIBUTED

The apartment buildings were in the city’s structural nuisance abatement program.

“I applaud the fact that you want to get this building rehabbed and back into service,” said Tim Bement, a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals “It sounds like the neighbors are very much for that.”

Bement, however, was the sole member of the zoning appeals board to vote against approving the variance.

He said he was concerned about the safety of the parking situation and wanted to see some changes.

McDonough, with the Hillview Neighborhood Association, said she also is concerned the property has too few parking spaces, but she otherwise supports the project.

She said the property has been a chronic eyesore and previous efforts redevelop it fell through.

She said an out-of-state investor decided not to buy the property about five years ago after learning it could cost about $400,000 to rehab.

Crews work on the roof of a vacant apartment building in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Crews work on the roof of a vacant apartment building in the Hillcrest neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

McDonough said she hopes the apartment buildings are returned to productive use and attract stable tenants.

“It will be an improvement, rather than having a vacant, falling down building over there with all kinds of seedy people hanging around,” she said, noting that neighbors believe the property attracted drug use and squatters.

Windsor Homes also has purchased a cluster of single-story brick apartment buildings on the 1700 block of Radio Road and the 300 block of N. Smithville Road

The detached apartment buildings, located in the Wright View neighborhood, each have about three to four units.

Single-story, brick apartments on the 1700 block of Radio Road in east Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Single-story, brick apartments on the 1700 block of Radio Road in east Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Windsor Homes last year also purchased an apartment building at 814 Easton St. in northwest Dayton and a single-family home on Bonner Street in South Park.

Since early 2019, the company purchased but apparently quickly transferred or sold apartment properties and multi-family dwellings at 424 Briarwood Ave., 207-209 Jackson St., 27 Margaret St. and 444 Quitman St., according to county auditor real estate records.

Windsor Companies did not return requests for comment.

Windsor Companies has been a major player in downtown development.

The company has rehabbed multiple buildings on the 100 block of East Third Street into new apartment units, renovated office spaces and first-floor commercial space.

After years of disuse, buildings in the Fire Blocks District have welcomed new businesses like the Salt Block Biscuit Co. and Third Perk Coffee House and Wine Bar.

Windsor Companies is finishing up work on new loft apartments in the Graphic Arts Building on South Ludlow Street.

The company owns and plans to redevelop the Price Stores property on South Jefferson Street and the Grant Deneau Tower, downtown’s first modern skyscraper on West Fourth Street.

Windsor also purchased several parcels in the Village of North Clayton, which is a residential and commercial development in Clayton.

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