New downtown housing gets OK, except for one thing

The developers of Water Street will revise their site plan for one of three new apartment buildings to address concerns that a proposed volley ball court and outdoor space does not fit into the urban district.

The Dayton Plan Board has approved the site design of two new buildings along the banks of the Mad River that will each add 18 new apartment units to the Water Street District, which already offers 215 rental units.

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But board members said the proposed placement of a third building and its outdoor amenities space was not appropriate for an urban setting. The proposed green space and volleyball court would abut Webster Street.

“To me it just doesn’t make sense to have the volleyball court out on the street,” said board member Jeff Payne.

The new apartments cannot come soon enough for the downtown area, considering downtown’s market is under built by about 1,400 rental units and 950 apartments, according to an analysis released today by the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

RELATED: Hot downtown Water Street District to expand with new apartments

“We conducted this study to address that uncertainty by estimating the depth of the residential market, and we’re very pleased to see that we have significant potential to grow the downtown neighborhood,” said Scott Murphy, the partnership’s vice president of economic development.

Woodard Resources and Crawford Hoying are the developers of the Water Street District, which already includes housing, office space and restaurant and service space. They now want to construct three new buildings at the eastern end of the district to create 54 new units.

Water Street residents have indicated that they would like to see more recreational space in the district, as well as some additional green space for people with dogs, said Jason Woodard, principal with Woodard Development.

The planned volleyball court and outdoor space primarily would be for tenants but also could be opened up to the neighborhood or public for special events, Woodard said.

RELATED: Residents, businesses filling in Webster Station, Tech Town

But the proposal went before the plan board on Tuesday for a major site design review. Board members said the configuration of the building and outdoor areas are unsuitable for an urban project.

“It’s like having a single hand and the first four fingers are an urban context and the thumb is not,” said David Bohardt, board member.

“It’s like the Meadows of Catalpa,” chimed in board member Matt Sauer, referring to a suburban-type development in the northwestern section of the city.

Board members said they would like to see the building rotated or the site reconfigured. They approved the site design of first two buildings but not the third.

Woodard said the plan board’s actions will not impact the project’s timeline because the construction of the third building was going to have to wait anyway since the Webster Street bridge is being replaced.

Woodard said, “We’ll take their comments and there’s a lot of creative ways we can address this.”

The vacancy rate of the Water Street apartments is less than 2 percent and other apartment buidings in the downtown area have seen strong demand and have raised rents.

The downtown market has enough pent-up demand to roughly double the existing housing stock, which has increased 20 percent since the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan in 2010, according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

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