Mixed-use project near UD moving forward

The Flats at South Park is a proposed 50-unit apartment building with retail and office space.

The Flats at South Park, a mixed-use development project on the 500 block of Warren St., took another step forward on Tuesday when the Dayton Plan Board approved its record plan.

The four-story building will offer 50 apartments and retail and office space on the ground floor. Construction is expected to begin by the end of September.

The Flats will expand the housing options downtown and better connect the center city with the corridor containing the University of Dayton, Miami Valley Hospital and the Brown Street shops, local development officials said.

“It’s been a very long time since there has been any productive commercial uses on this entire section of Warren Street,” said Steve Budd, president of CityWide Development. “This really continues the exciting redevelopment that started by the Brown and Stewart intersection.”

But some neighbors say the development is inappropriate for the area, which needs owner-occupied housing and not rental product.

The record plan is a predevelopment step that consolidates multiple parcels into a single property, city officials said. Greater Dayton Construction is the project developer.

The plan also establishes an easement for the storm sewer and outlines how the project will comply with planning district regulations, such as minimum lot size, said Brian Inderrieden, planning manager in Dayton’s department of planning and community development.

The Flats will create commercial space on the first floor, including a facility with a drive-through window that could be used by a bank or restaurant. The three upper floors will offer market-rate apartments, most of which will have two bedrooms.

“It’s a large development and should have a positive impact on that area,” Inderrieden said.

Utility infrastructure and right-of-way boundaries led developers to increase the height of the Flats from three to four stories.

The building will be about 54 feet tall, which required a height variance.

The Downtown Land Use Board voted to oppose the height variance, and some South Park homeowners voiced dissatisfaction with the proposal and its compatibility with the neighborhood.

Some residents said they have bad memories of the Cliburn Manor housing projects, which were located next to the site of the Flats but were demolished in 2008. They said they fear rental units will attract neighbors who are not invested in the area and misbehave and cause disturbances.

“When Cliburn Manor went down, I thought we were free and good of problematic rental issues,” said Tracy Kraft, 47, who has lived on the 600 block of Warren St. for more than 40 years, along with her mother. “Rentals as a whole don’t tend to do well in transitional neighborhoods.”

The Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variance in June.

The next steps include securing financing and land purchase by Greater Dayton Construction, said Budd. If the timeline holds up, the Flats will be completed by mid-summer of next year.

The Flats will offer market-rate housing that is nothing like the Cliburn Manor units, because the apartments will be high quality, attractive and will fit into the neighborhood, Budd said.

Warren Street has benefited from a variety of investment, including the relocation of Coco’s Bistro, the opening of the new home for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley and the renovation of the Marvin Gardens Apartments by St. Mary’s Corp., Budd said.

“I think (the Flats) will look and feel like an urban commercial district, which is a live, play and work district,” Budd said. “It will increase vibrancy and people.”

The mixed-use building is intended to be the first piece of a larger redevelopment plan, which includes building new homes for sale on the former Cliburn Manor site and a mix of housing and retail along Warren Street, south of Cline Street, Budd said.

The Flats project coincides with the rebuilding of Warren Street, which will add a center turn lane and bike lanes.

Most South Park residents want to see the Brown and Warren streets corridor developed, and they are pleased the project has attracted a local developer who will invest private capital, said Amy Lee, president of Historic South Park Inc.

“I think this will be good for us and the city, because it’s not going to be some nondescript office strip — it will add to the pedestrian experience and draw foot traffic,” Lee said.

Some neighbors had concerns about the development and design process, but there will be meetings with the developer and architect to discuss design changes to the facade to make it more unique and appropriate, Lee said.

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