Whew! What a year for downtown.
Large cranes stood out against Dayton’s skyline as work progressed on a new office building and hotel. Foot traffic in the northeastern part of downtown has picked up noticeably because of the opening of new apartments (Delco Lofts) and new businesses (Canal Street Arcade and Deli, Mudlick Tap House, Lock 27).
Downtown housing has been red-hot. Homes and condos have been selling within days of hitting the market. New, upscale townhomes that remain under construction near the downtown YMCA and Warped Wing are selling.
And there’s a lot more investment coming next year.
But here’s a look back at the top 10 downtown projects of 2017.
1. The Water Street District
The Water Street District has helped make downtown one of the hottest destinations and places to live in the region. The district started off with an office building and 215 apartments along the Mad River. But this year, developers opened 133 new apartments in the new Delco Lofts building next to Fifth Third Field, which is also home to the very popular Lock 27 Brewing (the wings have received big love and rave reviews on social media).
Developers also decided to start construction on an additional 54 apartments along the river banks. Construction on a new hotel is underway at the corner of Monument Avenue and Patterson Boulevard. The Water Street developers also want to add new housing just east of the ballpark, and they are eyeing the land across the river at Deeds Point for potential redevelopment into housing. Investment in the district has exceeded $100 million and shows no signs of slowing.
2. The downtown Dayton Metro Library
The $64 million overhaul of the main downtown Dayton Metro Library has injected new life into what was a bland section of East Third Street. The new main library, which opened Aug. 5, is massive, offering four times the amount of public space as the building it replaces. The facility has state-of-the-art technology and systems, including blazing-fast Internet speeds and tablets for patrons to use, and the library building itself is a work of art, with more than 1,000 window panes, providing great urban views and tons of natural light. The library now has significant amounts of meeting spaces, which already have been used for some high-profile events, like local candidate forums.
3. The Levitt Pavilion Dayton
The new outdoor pavilion that is coming downtown is meant to be more than just a place to hear music. The Levitt Pavilion Dayton is supposed to become downtown’s living room, where people of all backgrounds and walks of life come together for the shared experience of free music. The pavilion will host 50 free concerts each year, except for in 2018 because construction on the amphitheater is not expected to complete until mid-summer, resulting in a shortened programming season.
Many Dayton officials and economic development leaders say that the Levitt pavilion is perhaps the most important project for downtown, because it will be at the heart of efforts to create a new, nine-block urban neighborhood called the Nines. The pavilion is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors downtown annually for its free concerts. Supporters were able to raise the $5 million needed to build the state-of-the-art amphitheater earlier this year. This month, they announced they have selected a contractor to construct the venue, which will be installed at Dave Hall Plaza north of the Crowne Plaza Dayton.
4. The Dayton Arcade
Not far from the future site of Levitt Pavilion Dayton is what is widely considered downtown’s most iconic property: the Dayton Arcade. Like it has for 26 years, the arcade sits dark and empty. But for the first time since it closed in 1991, the arcade seems to be barreling toward a new beginning.
The arcade has been awarded $9 million in highly-competitive state historic tax credits this year, which would help finance redeveloping the property in stages, at an overall project cost of more than $96 million. Developers also have secured commitments from the University of Dayton, the Entrepreneurs Center and other groups to occupy space in the arcade and partner on its revival. The project is not yet a sure thing, but developers insist they can see the finish line and are nearing a closing.
5. RiverScape River Run
The $4 million River Run project has helped transform the Great Miami River into a paddling destination. The project removed and replaced a dangerous low-head dam by the Dayton Art Institute with a rocky structure that has two water passages for kayaks, canoes and other paddle boats. A similar limestone and cement structure was built at RiverScape that also has water passages for paddlers of varying skill levels. The River Run project, many years in the making, is a key part of a larger vision for activating Dayton’s waterways to attract new investments, fun-seekers and residents. River Run will get more people to use and interact with the river while also serving as a big draw for spectators.
6. CareSource Center City
CareSource changed Dayton’s skyline when it opened its headquarters on North Main Street in 2009. Ohio’s largest Medicaid managed care service provider is on track to change the skyline again when it finishes its new, six-story office building downtown in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit revealed it was constructing a new office tower, which will be downtown’s first new one since CareSource headquarters opened its doors. This year, crews have made considerable progress putting up the bones of the building, which will house hundreds of new CareSource employees.
7. Taylor Communications
Taylor Communications, formerly Standard Register, already was located in the city of Dayton. But the company was considering moving to a new home outside of the city and region. Instead, Taylor chose to lease space in the 111 W. First St. building, where it said it will move about 600 employees.
The move helps fill a largely vacant office tower that was recently purchased by the Canadian firm Olymbec. Olymbec, emboldened by its success in this market, has since announced it is buying the PNC bank building on Main Street, which lost its main bank tenant to the Water Street District. But also, Taylor is expected to provide that part of downtown a major boost by bringing hundreds of new workers into the urban core. Downtown housing has been hot for multiple years, but the office market is finally showing some signs of life. Taylor is helping downtown with the work part of being a live, work, play hot spot.
8. Flats at South Park
The Flats at South Park project isn’t technically in downtown — it’s in South Park, just north of the Brown Street business district. But the project is important to downtown because it better connects the urban center with the University of Dayton, Miami Valley Hospital and the Fairgrounds and South Park neighborhoods. The first phase of the project is a four-story building that offers first-floor retail spaces and 43 apartments on the upper levels. The apartments, located at Warren Street and Burns Avenue, are expected to open early next year.
Developers are considering building new upcale condos in a three-story building just south on Warren Street. Future projects may include townhouses and other new housing. City planners say one major development goal for the community is to better connect the city’s assets. The Flats project bridges downtown with important southern neighborhoods and community institutions.
9. The Wheelhouse Lofts
Speaking of bridging assets, the Wheelhouse Lofts has helped fill in some of dead space between the Oregon Historic District and the Cannery in the Webster Station neighborhood. The Wheelhouse, located at 210 Wayne Ave., offers 40 loft-style apartments in a former automotive assembly plant, which has been restored by Kentucy developer Weyland Ventures. The $8 million Wheelhouse, which opened its apartments for leasing earlier this year, is supposed to be the first in a series of redevelopment projects that create Oregon East, which is new district with a similar mix of housing, work spaces amenities and recreation options as the Oregon District.
10. DP&L steam plant
The Dayton Power & Light steam plant on the 600 block of East Third Street was in terrible shape less than two years ago. Today, it is a lavish and sparkling event space that has already hosted some fancy functions and holiday bashes. The facility also houses the offices of Riazzi Asset Management and MODA4 Design. The renovation of the building increased interest in Webster Station and coincides with the opening of new townhomes near the 2nd Street Market (called the Brownstones at 2nd). A new parking lot is being built behind the DP&L plant to support redevelopment of nearby vacant office buildings.