Salem Avenue’s reinvention will make great strides with 180 units of new housing, officials say

Dayton leaders say Salem Avenue’s revival is going to make significant headway if and when a developer builds as many as 180 units of new senior housing on a former school, hospital and church site.

National Church Residences, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of affordable senior housing, proposes creating a new senior living campus on 4.5 acres of property on the 1000 block of Salem Avenue.

“This helps address the need for market-rate senior housing,” said Jeff Green, a city of Dayton planner. “And it represents a significant housing investment on a major corridor.”

The project dovetails with other redevelopment projects planned for Salem Avenue, including the renovation of Grand Place and the proposed overhaul of the vacant Longfellow school campus into new senior housing.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Dayton City Commission this week approved a zoning request in support of a new proposed senior housing project on Salem Avenue in the University Row neighborhood.

The 4.5-acre property sits between Princeton Drive and Harvard Boulevard. The site is home to multiple vacant buildings, including the former St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Dartmouth Hospital and a day care facility and a gymnasium.

The project also involves a parking lot just north of Grace United Method Church. The existing structures will be demolished.

The new housing project is a perfect fit for the Salem Avenue commercial corridor that will reactivate vacant and underutilized properties, said Green, the city planner.

The first phase of the project calls for 115 units of senior housing — 88 one-bedroom and 27 two-bedroom apartments.

The front-facing part of the complex along Salem Avenue will be attractive and welcoming, featuring a porte cochere — which is a covered entrance for vehicles with a turn-around, Green said.

The four-story complex also will have a wrap-around front porch and a large clock face, he said. The exterior of the buildings could include stone veneers, vinyl siding, vinyl windows and balconies with aluminum railings.

The senior independent living development will be for people 55 and older, but the target population will be seniors who want to move into housing that gives them more assistance, said Kevin Brown, director of senior housing development with National Church Residences.

“It’s not assisted living, but it would be offering meal service, housing-keeping services — a different lifestyle, if you will, for seniors, who are probably in their mid-70s and into their low 80s,” he said.

National Church Residences serves more than 46,000 seniors across more than 28 states, and it has about 360 senior communities across the nation, Brown said. The nonprofit manages about 645 units of senior housing in Dayton.

This includes Grand Place, which is several blocks south of the new housing site on Salem Avenue. National Church Residences expects to spend more than $14 million rehabbing and modernizing 64 senior housing units at Grand Place.

The city approved a development agreement with National Church Residences that will provide the nonprofit $2.5 million of the city’s federal HOME funds to help with the renovation work.

The city also plans to give the nonprofit $2 million of its $138 million in federal COVID relief funds to support the new senior living campus.

The new housing development still needs final plan approval from the Dayton Plan Board.

Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild said he’s pleased that long-vacant properties along Salem Avenue will be revitalized.

Dartmouth Hospital closed in the early 1990s, and commissioners said the property is an eyesore, and so are others along the corridor.

But there’s certainly been renewed interest in Salem Avenue in recent years.

The Gem City Market opened on the corridor two years ago, and the roadway is being rebuilt in phases, improving the pedestrian and street-level experience.

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