Dayton’s Fire Blocks development: ‘We are doing an entire neighborhood’

The Fire Blocks District right now is one the last large concentrations of mostly inactive space in the northeastern part of downtown Dayton.

But the district’s new developer says that will change soon and it is “very close” to reaching deals with what would be its first new commercial tenants.

The success of the Fire Blocks depends on creating an “ecosystem” of high-quality live, work, eat and play opportunities, and key pieces of that puzzle are very close to coming into place, said Eric VanZwieten, head of marketing and public relations with Windsor Companies, the developer.

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“It’s not going to be just any play or any eat — it’s going to be very good stuff,” he said. “Most people build a building or develop a building — we are doing an entire neighborhood.”

The Fire Blocks District, centered around the 100 block of East Third Street, is finally showing signs of life.

About 40 construction workers are clearing out and renovating multiple buildings in the district to create new apartments and commercial spaces.

Windsor Companies is on track to open about 70 new loft apartments in the empty Huffman Block building come fall of 2019, VanZwieten said.

The company has already started accepting online reservations for the apartments here. Workers of downtown employers CareSource, Taylor Communications and Premier Health get first preference.

RELATED: Dayton considers pitching in for downtown Fire Blocks project

Windsor Companies is in negotiations to bring a California coffee roaster, a food and beverage business and an “elevated” restaurant and cocktail concept to the district, VanZwieten said.

Multiple announcements are expected soon about tenants committing to lease space in empty storefronts along the 100 block of East Third Street, he said.

The spaces under consideration include the ground floor of the Elks building at the southeast corner of Jefferson and East Third streets and a two-story building at 132 E. Third St., which formerly housed a coin and engraving shop.

The Fire Blocks is going to start with about 100 apartments in the Huffman Lofts and Elk Lofts developments, and that means the district will need places where residents can grab a drink, a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, VanZwieten said.

The district hopes to offer amenities like a sports bar, fitness center or exercise facility and entertainment and “play” options, he said.

“It’s going to be very good stuff,” he said. “We’re not just throwing things in, we’re being very methodical …”

Downtown Dayton has pockets of amenities and projects that are near each other and yet feel disjointed, but the redevelopment of the Fire Blocks will create better connections between them, VanZwieten said.

Reactivating the Fire Blocks will link the Water Street District, the Levitt Pavilion Dayton, the Central Business District, Webster Station and other parts of downtown, he said.

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