Expect restoration work to begin shortly on historic East Third Street buildings planned for new residential housing and entertainment businesses downtown, developers of what is being dubbed the Fire Blocks District said Wednesday.
Elliot Katz and Winfield Scott Gibson, the two developers on the project, have purchased or have under contract four buildings in the 100 block of East Third and on Jefferson Street.
In all, the buildings contain more than 200,000 square feet of space and are eligible for federal and state historic district tax credits. The two plan to spend millions restoring and upgrading the buildings, although an exact budget is still being established.
Katz purchased 124 E. Third on his own, but is a partner with Gibson on the other buildings that include the David Building, located at 115 through 129 East Third, and 100 East Third and, around the corner, 20 North Jefferson, also known as the Simms Building.
Katz, who owns the Oregon District building at 401 E. Fifth Street that houses the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, splits his time between Dayton and Boca Raton, Fla. Gibson said he plans to move to Dayton from his home in Tulsa, Okla., within the year. Katz has a track record in renovation.
Ten years ago, he redeveloped the Medical Center at Elizabeth Place, the medical complex on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard.
With commitment for private financing from investors already in place, Gibson said he’s planning up to 60 condominiums or apartments in the top three stories of the David Building and another ten living units in 100 East Third.
That building, which contains the Century Bar, has a penthouse on the roof that will also be renovated, Gibson said. The Century Bar is planning an expansion, he added.
The living units will be built and sold in stages, with the first 15 for sale as early as the end of this year. In the meantime, Gibson said, work should start within 120 days on the facade of the David Building updating windows and doors and fixing the sidewalk.
“We want to get at that quicker rather than later so people see we are doing things,” Gibson said. “We also want to get going on the interior this year. We are not sitting on our hands.”
Gibson also acquired 72 parking spaces, largely behind the David Building, to accommodate the new residents. Gibson said he purchased the David and Simms buildings for around $700,000 and paid overdue taxes as well as part of the deal with David West. The building at 100 East Third was purchased from prominent businessman Lee Schear. Katz purchased 124 East Third from Paul Hutchins.
Katz said work on 124 East Third Street to stabilize the facade should begin in April. Scaffolding is on the building to shield pedestrians. The third floor of the five-story building is vacant for now and Katz is seeking tenants.
Greg Dart, owner of GL Dart General Contracting, has signed on to do the renovations and upgrades to the buildings.
“I’ll be doing the design and architecture work too, and the general contracting part of it,” he said. “It’s very exciting. It’s an awesome thing. We are planning phases right now.”
Dart, who also owns the old Journal Herald building that houses the closed Yellow Rose and Have a Nice Day Cafe bars, 111 East Fourth Street, said he’d like to reopen the establishment as a local music venue.
Gibson said more acquisitions could be in the works.
“We are looking at more buying opportunities,” he said.
Two first-floor business tenants of 124 East Third Street said they’re looking forward to the renovations.
“They sound like they want to do something nice,” said Kevin Harrington of Downtown Dayton Optical.
Dick Osborn, owner of D’nD Uniforms, Inc., agreed. “I’m happy the building will be fixed up,” he said. “It needs to be revitalized.”
The Fire Blocks Historical District, which is on the National Register of Historical Places, is roughly bounded by Jefferson and Fourth streets and St. Clair, and Second streets. The area was rebuilt after the catastrophic flood and fire of 1913.