Investment in Water Street in Dayton nears $250M as ‘white whale’ project makes progress



In 9 years of work, Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development efforts rival previous 5 decades.

Scores of new apartments and a new upscale hotel have just opened in a section of downtown Dayton that less than eight years ago had few places to live and no places to stay.

By late 2024, a prolific duo of developers — Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development — will have completed about $250 million worth of projects in a northeast area of downtown they have helped rebrand as the Water Street District.

The district already has seen massive changes in those eight years, but its transformation continues with the addition of new housing and hotel rooms, and the developers are working on their largest Dayton project yet — the Delco, the rehab of the former Mendelsons building.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Local officials say these projects are helping remake downtown and give it a bright future.

“I want to thank you for your investment here in Dayton,” Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said to company representatives during a commission meeting last week. “It really feels like in a short period of time, you’ve transformed that neighborhood and created a neighborhood.”

This month, Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development opened a new 134-room hotel called the AC Hotel and a new apartment building called the Monument, which has 124 apartments.

This comes on the heels of their late February opening of the Sutton, an apartment building with 71 studio apartments and micro units.

Downtown’s only two hotels in operation are both in the Water Street District.

The Sutton opened about a month ago and about 21 units have been leased. Move-ins began at the Monument on March 15, and the apartment property has 17 leased units.

With the addition of the Sutton and the Monument, Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development have now brought 709 new apartments downtown.

When they finish their next major Dayton project — the rehab of the Delco building — they will have opened 869 new market-rate apartments in downtown over the span of about nine years.

To put that into context, developers opened about 900 market-rate apartments in the greater downtown area over more than five decades, between 1963 to 2015, according to data from the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

The Delco, the former Mendelsons liquidation outlet building, has more than 536,000 square feet of space. That’s more square footage than the Dayton Arcade’s nine connected buildings.

The Mendelsons building in years past was called one of Dayton’s “white whales” because people always believed it had extraordinary redevelopment potential but the acquisition and redevelopment costs were believed to be prohibitive.

But work on the project is making progress. Renovation of the property began in the second quarter of 2022 and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2024. A new garage inside the building, taking up four floors, is expected to be finished the following quarter.

Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development are turning the Delco into 160 residential units, 77,400 square feet of office space, 19,600 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space and a parking garage with 482 spaces.

Residential amenities include a rooftop pool, and the developers say the building will have Class A office spaces, with concrete slab floors, that should be attractive to research and development, laboratory and life sciences end users.

When the Delco is complete, Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development will have created — in addition to the new apartments — 200,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and more than 1,000 parking spaces in the Water Street District.

Shaw last week told the companies, “Keep it up ... I hope you invest a lot more in our city.”

The Dayton City Commission is considering approving a New Community Authority to benefit the Delco project’s parking lot.

The New Community Authority would give the developers the ability to assess a 1% bed tax on the AC Hotel to help pay the bonds for the parking garage.

“Essentially, it’s a tool that allows us to levy a tax on ourselves,” said MK Lindsey, vice president of real estate development with Crawford Hoying.

This also would give the developers the future ability to assess a 0.5% sales tax charge on the hotel, the Delco and the Sutton. This would be the second New Community Authority Dayton has approved. The first benefitted the Dayton Arcade.

“A lot of the work (downtown) would not be done without tools like this one,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

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