New apartments part of rebirth of large downtown Hamilton building

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Hamilton hopes to find new use for former Ohio Casualty buildings

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

International students who will attend Miami University’s Hamilton campus next school year will live in apartments in the former Ohio Casualty building in the city.

Those students, most of them Chinese, will occupy 16 two-bedroom apartments on the seventh floor under a lease agreement signed by a Chinese-based company called Quest. The students will fill those spaces in mid-July.

“So, we’re on a fast track,” said Justin Lichter, vice president of Los Angeles-based IRG (Industrial Realty Group), which owns the building, now rebranded as Third + Dayton for an intersection at its location.

International students studying at Miami University’s Middletown campus already have been participating in a similar English-immersion program.

Miami University Regionals created the English Language Center at the Middletown campus in Fall 2013. The program provides intensive English language courses for international students so they become proficient enough to enroll in Miami’s bachelor’s degrees. The courses, to be offered at the Hamilton campus, will focus on speaking and listening, reading and writing, and academic study skills.

ExploreRELATED: International student ranks swelling at Miami Middletown

At the same time it is creating the student apartments, IRG also will be building market-rate housing on the eighth floor that will be available to the general public. That will include four two-bedroom units and 22 one-bedroom units that should be able to be occupied in August.

“The city has worked closely with IRG for several years to reactivate the former Ohio Casualty complex,” said Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith, who gave his State of the City speech in the building last year to show off the space and its possibilities.

“We are thrilled with IRG’s new branding of Third + Dayton, and look forward to seeing their mixed-use project continue to make progress in the coming months and years.”

Cathy Bishop-Clark, associate provost and dean of Miami University Regionals, said the initial cohort of the ELC started with 37 students at Miami’s Middletown campus in 2013 and reached its capacity, of 128, in the fall of 2018.

“We are excited to be expanding the program to Hamilton this fall with a pilot cohort of 30-50 students,” Bishop-Clark said.

While most students in the language program have been from China, others have come from Brazil, Ecuador, Rwanda, Japan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Congo, Syria, Iraq, South Korea and Vietnam, said university spokesman Perry Richardson.

Most have gone on to pursue bachelor’s degrees at Miami.

To give the students as many opportunities to learn English as possible, the program gives them opportunities to volunteer and give service to community organizations and events, such as Operation Pumpkin. That also helps them learn about American culture by immersing themselves in it, Miami officials said.

“The ELC will have a positive impact on our Hamilton campus and in the local community,” Bishop-Clark said.

IRG plans to soon have renderings of what the apartments to be available to the public will look like.

The complex of three buildings, two of which are connected, contains about 450,000 square feet of space and once housed 1,000 employees. One of the buildings is six stories, and IRG plans to put in offices and other uses there.

One future possibility for space in the complex is one of the hotels that officials say will be needed to serve the proposed gigantic indoor sports and convention-center complex being built on North B Street that is called Spooky Nook at Champion Mill.

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