Austin Park developer sees niche for apartments

200-plus upscale units planned for Miami Twp.

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Developers of a proposed multimillion complex that includes 200-plus upscale apartments off Ohio 741 plan to capitalize on a 53-acre park it would abut.

The proposed Austin Park’s proximity and access to Waldruhe Park will enhance the nearly 15-acre project, according to its developer.

Miami Twp. trustees approved plans for Austin Park — estimated to cost about $20 million — that call for private roadways, a pathway into Waldruhe Park and direct access to the regional bikeway from the complex, officials said.

The landscaping proposal for the roadways has drawn questions from trustees, but “when you see the landscaping plan for the entire development, that will satisfy the township’s needs,” said developer Greg McCann, vice president of USC Properties.

While Austin Park is proposed to include retail and other businesses fronting Ohio 741, the distinctive character of the housing units off Miami Village Drive will set it apart from the nearby 274-unit The Flats at Austin Landing, McCann said.

“We think we have a different product. We have two different projects,” he said.

McCann noted that Austin Park will have “much more greenspace and a park-like atmosphere where we are.”

Both McCann and The Fortus Group, developer for The Flats at Austin Landing, said the two housing projects will not cater to the same clientele.

“It’s a different project,” Stephen Dronen, development director of The Fortus Group, told this newspaper late last year. “It’s a different product. And it’s aimed at different customers. We feel that Austin Landing is a premium location, and it’s a deep market.”

Recent census numbers show the market is deeper than it has been in years. Rental vacancy rates in Ohio in 2014 fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades, according to Census data.

The share of rental units in the Dayton metro area that are vacant also has been dropping. In the metro area — which includes Greene, Montgomery and Miami counties — the rental vacancy rate last year was 8.9 percent, compared to 16.5 in 2012 and 18.8 percent in 2010, Census data shows.

While plans for The Flats at Austin Landing were approved last year, much of Austin Park’s plans have yet to be submitted. Plans for the apartments — a project overseen by the Ackermann Group of Cincinnati — are expected to go forward in a few weeks, McCann said.

Attempts to reach Ackermann Group officials were unsuccessful. Pending approval of plans, McCann said he expected to begin construction “when the weather breaks.”

The 10.4 acres projected for the apartments would be east of the retail property and include eight residential buildings encompassing more than 208,000 square feet, township documents show.

When the proposal was announced, 210 units were planned, but McCann said recently there may be a few additional ones. The apartments would be two- and three-story structures that surround a clubhouse. Most of the units will consist of two or more bedrooms, and the remaining would be one-bedroom apartments, records show.

McCann said a financial institution is planned to occupy about an acre, and he is talking with restaurants and other businesses about two remaining lots.

The apartments are expected to take 18 months to complete while the retail sites will take four to five months to build once tenants are secured, McCann has said.