Key developer plans townhomes in Wright Dunbar where Wright brothers had shop

Simms hopes to have model unit open next summer at former Gem City Ice Cream site

A developer who helped spark downtown Dayton’s resurgence into a smoking-hot housing market wants to build new townhomes in the up-and-coming Wright Dunbar district.

Charles Simms Development proposes building 26 new townhouses at 1005 W. Third St., which was home to the Gem City Ice Cream Co. building until it was recently demolished.

The developer has built more than 115 townhomes in downtown Dayton in roughly the last decade, and company officials say Wright Dunbar is the next logical area to build new product.

“It’s the right timing, it’s the right project, to elevate the status of the Wright Dunbar neighborhood,” said Robi Simms, vice president of Charles Simms Development. “We are very excited to have this opportunity to build more rooftops and more homes in Wright Dunbar and the city of Dayton.”

Earlier this year, Charles Simms Development responded to a request for qualifications issued by the city of Dayton about the 1005 W. Third St. property.

The city late last year received authorization to tear down a decaying commercial building on the site that once housed the Gem City Ice Cream Co.

The Wright brothers once had a bicycle shop at that location, but it operated only briefly and it’s not clear if any of the original building remained.

The city selected Charles Simms Development to be the developer of the property, company officials said.

Simms Development wants to construct three-story townhouses for a project it calls the Townes at Wright-Dunbar. There would be four new buildings, with six townhomes each, and the units would have attached garages.

The homes would offer slightly more than 1,400 square feet of space and could cost somewhere in the $200,000s, Simms said.

The homes will be similar to the Patterson Square townhomes, which Simms Development built about a decade ago near First and Patterson, across from Day Air Ballpark, where the Dayton Dragons play.

The new homes could be brick and stone, inspired by the Gem City Ice Cream Co. building, Simms said.

The proposed home designs are expected to be similar to Center Street Townes, another Simms Development project in Springfield.

New homes along West Third Street will face the street, while the homes behind will face an alley to the north.

Simms Development would like to have a model unit open by the summer of 2023.

On Thursday, Charles Simms Development is expected to discuss the proposed project during a city of Dayton Landmarks Commission meeting.

This housing project would help set the stage for additional development and investment along the West Third Street corridor, Simms said.

Wright Dunbar, located just west of downtown Dayton across the Third Street Bridge, has an eclectic mix of small shops and businesses.

The district recently welcomed Dayton’s first food hall, W. Social Tap & Table, and it also has a collection of single-family homes.

Wright Dunbar and West Dayton have seen incremental progress over the years, John Gower, real estate chair of Wright Dunbar Inc., recently told this newspaper.

Market demand in Dayton’s core continues to spread to other parts of the city, and Gower said Wright Dunbar is an area that offers diversity, authenticity, density, walkability, social and entrepreneurial opportunities and face-to-face experiences.

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