The $100M Delco: ‘Mother of all projects’ in downtown Dayton prepares to open

The former Mendelsons Liquidation Outlet will become 160 apartments, 482 parking spaces, retail, restaurant and office space, and lots of amenities

Some people thought as recently as the mid- to late-2010s that they might not see the Mendelsons Liquidation Outlet redeveloped anytime soon ... possibly not in their lifetimes.

The building was too big. Renovations would be too expensive. There was too much stuff inside that would have to be cleared out.

But developers Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development say they are likely a couple of months away from opening up a portion of the massive property, and the rest of the renovations could be completed by the end of summer.

This was a huge undertaking considering that the building, now called the Delco, has more space than the Dayton Arcade’s nine interconnected buildings combined.

The developers are investing about $100 million into the property, and some members of the downtown community say this will help continue the impressive revitalization of the area around the baseball stadium where the Dayton Dragons play.

This is “kind of the mother of all projects,” said Steve Seboldt, a longtime downtown resident and a member of the Greater Downtown Priority Land Use Board.

Nearly done

Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development, the Water Street District developers, hope to open Phase 1 of the Delco around June, according to Erik Wood, assistant vice president of property management with Crawford Hoying.

The Delco, located at 115 Madison St., across First Street from Day Air Ballpark in downtown Dayton, has seven floors and about 555,000 square feet of space. It fills the entire block between First and Second streets, from Race to Madison.

The Delco will have 160 new apartments, and 30 should be opening in a couple of months. Those units are on floors 1 to 4 of the building and face Madison Street and the AC Hotel by Marriott Dayton, which is across the street.

Floors 1 to 4 of the Delco also will have 482 public parking spaces, which are expected to be used by Delco residents and visitors, hotel guests and people who are headed to Water Street bars, restaurants and amenities, and Dayton Dragons games.

The Delco already has pre-leased 10 of its apartments, and there has been a steady stream of people who have asked to tour the building, Wood said.

The rest of the Delco should open by the end of summer, ideally by the end of August, he said.

A very big project

Mendelsons was known as the “first place to look for everything last thing,” and the liquidation outlet certainly lived up to that slogan. The building was packed with at least hundreds of thousands of odds and ends — possibly millions.

Just clearing out all of that stuff took a lot of time and effort.

Everything in the Delco building had to be replaced and is brand new, except for most of the concrete floors and the concrete columns inside the apartments, commercial spaces and garage. Even the water tower atop the structure was redone.

Seboldt, the longtime downtowner, said he thought Mendelsons would be one of the last buildings to be redeveloped in that part of downtown because it was such a challenging project.

The huge size of the building was always viewed as a major obstacle to its redevelopment.

For perspective, the rehab of the Dayton Arcade was one of the most complicated projects in the city of Dayton’s history, and that complex actually has less space than the Delco.

The first phase of the Arcade project cost about $95 million and only succeeded after years of work by many public and private partners and the securing of funding from lots of different places. It took a Herculean effort to make that project a reality.

Some people say what Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development have done with the Delco is also a spectacular feat.

The Delco building is “gorgeous,” and the developers clearly put a ton of work and money into fixing up the property, Seboldt said.

“It’s an incredibly intricate project, in terms of all they had to do,” he said.

The Delco looks like it will have the kind of amenities that appeal to urban dwellers, Seboldt said.

The Delco’s amenities

Every floor of the Delco building will have apartments, but 130 of the 160 units are on floors 5 to 7.

The apartments will have about 20 different floor plans, said Wood, and units will have floor-to-ceiling windows, concrete floors and columns, stainless steel appliances and white quartz countertops.

The Delco will offer everything from “micro units” and studio apartments to three-bedroom units. Micro units are less than 500 square feet, while the largest apartments are 1,500 square feet.

Rents range from about $980 to $3,500.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

The Delco’s amenities include a rooftop swimming pool, fire pits, grilling stations, outdoor lounge areas and great views of downtown. The building also will have a fitness center and a reservable club room, with TVs, a fireplace, pool table and kitchen.

Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development’s Water Street residential properties are pet friendly, but the Delco takes that to the next level. The first floor has a dog washing station and pet salon, and the fifth floor has an outdoor dog park in a large courtyard that serves as a light well.

The first floor has one large and one small restaurant and retail space, at the corner of Madison and East First streets. Wood said no deals have been inked for the first floor retail spaces or the upstairs commercial and office spaces, but there’s been a lot interest from potential tenants.

Demand for office space took a hit during COVID, but there’s still plenty of interest in Class A space, like what the Delco will offer, Wood said. Wood said the Delco is fairly upscale.

“This is a little elevated, compared to some of our other projects,” he said. “I like to think that we get a little better with each one. We learn from our mistakes and learn what works out really well, that we can duplicate.”

Downtown apartments remain very popular. Downtown housing has an occupancy rate of about 91%, said Katie Meyer, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

More housing means more people living downtown, and downtown’s growing momentum in the last decade has made projects like the Delco possible, she said.

“Projects of this size are always challenging,” Meyer said. “However, Crawford Hoying has many successful large projects like this one and we’ve been excited to see the continued progress to bring The Delco to life.”

“More people than ever before believe in downtown Dayton and want to invest to continue its growth, momentum and success,” she said.

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