$7M project could help connect UD, downtown

Construction on the mixed-use Flats at South Park project could begin by the end of the year, and officials hope it will better connect the University of Dayton campus to downtown.

The first phase of the project, at a cost of about $7.4 million, will be a four-story building featuring 43 new apartments and 10,500 square feet of commercial space.

The development is located along a reconstructed portion of Warren Street, close to UD, that also feeds into the southwestern part of the center city.

A major part of the city’s redevelopment focus has been on bridging the gaps separating various community assets, hot-spot destinations and entertainment and residential districts to create a seamless urban experience.

“The investment on Brown Street a few years ago, the investment on Main Street and the investment on Warren Street — we recognize that we have to have connectivity,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

In 2012, Oberer Thompson Co. and Moda4 Design were selected to develop about 9 acres of land on Warren Street, just north of the Brown Street business corridor.

The first phase of the project will be to construct a four-story building on the 1.1-acre grassy lot between Cline Street and Burns Avenue.

The upper three floors will be contemporary, market-rate housing, while the ground floor will offer retail space. The apartment units will offer one or two bedrooms.

Financing for the project is lined up, and developers already had a pre-construction meeting with city staff, said Bill Hibner, director of construction services with Oberer.

Construction could begin this year, hopefully finishing in the summer of 2017.

“We’re getting very close,” Hibner said.

Market studies have shown a strong demand for new housing downtown, and there hasn’t been much new product in that area, which is close to UD, Miami Valley Hospital and other community anchors, Hibner said.

The Flats project will add to the commercial and residential offerings. But also, it will help fill in some of the empty spaces separating downtown from the UD area. Officials hope that will improve the relationship between neighborhoods.

The city of Dayton recontructed Warren Street to add bike lanes and reduce the number of lanes to make wider ones and a dedicated left turn lane.

That project, along with the Link bike-sharing program, has made it easier and more convenient to get to downtown from Brown Street and vice versa, officials said.

“We’ve always had the goal to make it easier for students to get downtown, whether they walk or bike or however they get there,” said Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development.

The city has made infrastructure investments with the intention of improving links between areas such the Oregon Historic District and Webster Station, and the Oregon and Water Street districts.

The emphasis has been on multi-modal connectivity that really pays attention to making it easier for pedestrians to traverse neighborhoods , Sorrell said.

“We’re not done — we have a ways to go — but we’re making good strides,” he said.

The next phase of the Flats development will occur on another empty lot along Warren Street. The plan is for a three-story building that also offers a mix of opportunities for people to live, work and play, developers said.

The development is the latest piece of the Genesis Project, which is a public-private partnership started in 2000 to improve the quality of life and of place in the Fairgrounds neighborhood.

Mayor Whaley complimented the developers for listening to local residents and being patient to revise their plan to alleviate neighborhood concerns.

“(We) all live in the same community, we all talk to each other, we all value our community and want to make sure it looks the way we can all be proud of,” she said.

On Wednesday, Dayton city commissioners approved a Community Reinvestment Area agreement that will give the commercial part of the development a 35 percent, 10-year tax abatement.

New residential construction on properties in reinvestment areas are exempted from paying property taxes on the value of the improvements for up to 15 years. But industrial and commercial developments must negotiate and reach deals with the local school districts about property tax payment arrangements.

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