‘Residential renaissance’ for Wright Dunbar? New homes also coming on North Main

The Simms townhomes on West Third Street can begin construction; North Main project needs one final approval

One developer got the green light and another received key approvals from city-appointed boards last week for new townhome projects in north and west Dayton.

Charles Simms Development received the go-ahead to start constructing three-story townhouses along West Third Street in the historic Wright Dunbar business district.

Meanwhile, Ohio P&R Holdings LLC’s planned development was recommended for city approval. It calls for new homes and a “luxury” car wash along North Main Street, immediately north of Interstate 75 in the Riverdale neighborhood.

Robi Simms, vice president of Charles Simms Development, said his company plans to construct a lot more new housing in the Wright Dunbar area, which is located in West Dayton, across the river from downtown.

“We want to build many more,” Simms said. “This is the beginning of a residential renaissance hopefully in Wright Dunbar.”

On Thursday, the Dayton Landmarks Commission approved a major certificate of appropriateness for townhomes proposed for 1005 West Third St., which was the site of the former Gem City Ice Cream Co. building. The site also was very briefly used as a bicycle shop by the Wright brothers.

Simms Development plans to build 26 new homes, with half along the north side of Third Street, at the demolished historic ice cream site and adjacent property to the east.

The rest of the brick townhomes will go up on vacant land immediately to the north. There will be four buildings, each with six or seven attached houses.

The Third Street townhome buildings are “sister buildings” that are very similar but not exactly the same, said Holly Hornbeak, a city planner.

The buildings will have different brick colors and parapets, and Simms Development added awnings and a metal arch between the structures above a walkway.

Landmarks Commission members praised the project and complimented most elements of the townhome designs but took issue with the proposed ground-floor windows and front doors.

“The top part is very appropriate and consistent with the rest of the street — the first floor is not, it’s very distinctly different from the rest of the street front,” said Lora Sebald, a commission member.

Burgess Gow, a Landmarks Commission member, said, “Overall, this is awesome ... but the first-floor windows are not appropriate.”

Members of Preservation Dayton Inc., a local nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation, criticized the proposed windows and doors, claiming they are incompatible with the architectural style of buildings in the historic district.

However, they said they were otherwise very impressed with the new housing proposal.

Simms ultimately agreed to an amended application that “gangs together” the windows to give a more commercial look, plus changes the front door designs.

The Landmarks Commission approved the proposal, which will allow work to begin on the first two townhouse buildings.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Simms Development has built and opened more than 115 townhomes in downtown Dayton in roughly the last decade.

The company now has its sights set on Wright Dunbar, which the company says is a perfect fit for a lot more new homes.

North Main project

The Dayton City Plan Board on Nov. 8 recommended that the city approve a planned development for 2.3 acres of land along the east side of North Main Street.

Ohio P&R Holdings LLC owns and plans to develop the property, which sits between I-75 and Hershey Street and includes the former Kens Kars used automobile lot.

The owner proposes constructing a new state-of-the-art car wash and 18 attached and four detached single-family homes.

The car wash will be the first phase of the project. Housing will be constructed in phase 2, and about a dozen homes will face Main Street.

The auto dealership closed years ago, and empty land to the south used to have a gas station and housing and commercial uses, but those facilities and structures were demolished at least a decade ago and are now empty fields, according to a city staff report.

The North Central Priority Land Use Board unanimously recommended approval of the planned development, which now heads to the Dayton City Commission for approval or denial.

Victoria McNeal, president of the Riverdale Neighborhood Association, said she doesn’t think any new homes have been built in her neighborhood in the 30 years she’s lived there.

“I am in favor of (the) Ohio P&R Holdings LLC plan for (a) car wash and homes,” McNeal said in a message to the plan board in support of the project. “It would be an asset to our community as well as new construction, which we have not seen for a long time.”

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