Downtown developer acquires more real estate

The developers of the Fire Blocks District are buying another office building along East Third Street and have now amassed the bulk of available commercial space in that area.

The development group is under contract to buy the four-story Kimmel Building, 140 to 146 E. Third St., said Winfield Scott Gibson, co-owner of the Fire Blocks properties. The building is home to a bar and a computer repair business.

“We own maybe 70 percent to 80 percent of the square footage on (that block) of Third Street,” said Gibson, with the Ellway Group.

Developers plan to renovate the building’s ground-level storefront space and hope to create condos or possibly apartments on the upper floors, which currently sit vacant.

Developers envision a vibrant entertainment district that ties together with the redevelopment of the area that stretches from the east end of the Oregon Historic District to Webster Station and the Cannery Lofts.

“It would add to the multitude of reasons for people to visit downtown, work downtown and live downtown,” said Tony Kroeger, Dayton city planner. “It’s another piece of the puzzle.”

Gibson told this newspaper his group will have more property acquisition and investment announcements in the not-too-distant future.

Gibson said his group is under contract to buy the Kimmel Building, and they expect to close and take possession of the property within the next couple of weeks.

After this purchase, the Ellway Group will own the three largest buildings on the south side of 100 East First Street, as well as the largest building on the opposite side of the road.

The upper stories of the Kimmel Building are vacant, but the ground floor is occupied by Bingers Bar and the Dayton Computer Store. The Kimmel Building has a classical style and brick veneer and was constructed around 1913, according to Dayton’s historical documents.

The building features a storefront at the corner of Third and St. Clair streets that has been a couple different retail clothing stores in recent years.

The building also has a vacant restaurant space that was last used by Flava’s House of Wings.

Gibson said his group will work with existing tenants and plan to attract new tenants to the first floor, including a restaurant for the former Flava space. He said the current tenants are on month-to-month leases.

Gibson said they hope to get to work soon on facade improvements for the ground level.

Later on, they plan to adaptively reuse the upper floors, likely into condos but possibly apartments.

“We want to fully activate 100 percent of the first floor,” he said.

The Kimmel Building is situated close to a variety of existing housing, including the St. Clair Lofts apartments, the Lofts on St. Clair condos and the Oriel Studios.

Also, the Ellway Group plans to convert the David Building into residential units. It is a four-story building the group owns across the street at 115 to 129 E. Third St.

Earlier this month, this newspaper reported that Ellway Group plans to add a taco and tequila restaurant at the vacant storefront at 100 E. Third St. and a tattoo shop and crossfit gym in the David Building.

The renovation of the Kimmel Building is expected to occur simultaneously with work on the Mexican-style restaurant.

Gibson’s group also has purchased the former Journal Herald building on Fourth Street, the Graphic Arts Building on South Ludlow Street and has been in talks for other downtown buildings.

The Fire Blocks development, according to Gibson, will capitalize on the stabilization of that section of the urban core.

He said the area has anchors that include the Cannery and the businesses at the eastern end of the Oregon Historic District. Housing and commercial development is planned for that stretch of Wayne Avenue.

Gibson said the Fire Blocks district will epitomize the live, work and play mantra of recent urban renewal efforts.

Revitalization of those Third Street buildings would help fill in the Webster Station corridor and could become its own destination, said Kroeger.

The activity in that part of downtown reflects the work of quality developers, the fruition of previous investments, the renewed interest in urban living and the desire to visit and experience unique places, he said.

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