What’s next for the developers of downtown’s Water Street District in Dayton

The developers of the successful Water Street District are far from finished with Dayton even though their investment in the district exceeds $100 million.

Woodard Development and Crawford Hoying opened their new hotel this month and are making progress on new apartments.

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Woodard Development also wants to redevelop two commercial buildings on East Third Street and is working to acquire and redevelop an office building and an auditorium and event center at North St. Clair and East First streets.

“We look at what’s happening in the market, and where there’s gaps, and where there’s a huge amount of momentum,” said Jason Woodard, principal of Woodard Development. “We try to figure out not only what’s happening now, but where the market is going.”

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In early to mid-October, a new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is expected to open in the Water Street District.

The roughly $13 million Fairfield Inn, located at 305 E. Monument Ave., will be the first new hotel to open in downtown in a long time.

The inn will have 98 rooms, modern finishes, a bar and lounge area with outdoor seating and a breakfast area and second-floor fitness center for guests.

The hotel undoubtedly will serve business travelers but also will be appealing to the leisure market and provide a staycation experience downtown, Woodard said.

The Water Street District has grown rapidly since its first project — an office building — had its ribbon cutting in April 2015. That building also has first floor amenities including a fitness center (Snap Fitness), an anchor tenant (PNC Bank) and a restaurant (Basil’s on Market).

After that, the district welcomed 215 apartments along the river (the Water Street Flats), and later added another 54 units.

Water Street also expanded its housing with the opening of the Delco Lofts, which consists of 133 upscale apartments on the eastern end of Fifth Third Field. There’s a restaurant (Lock 27) on the ground floor of former manufacturing facility.

Construction is underway on the Centerfield Flats, which will be a five-story building offering 112 apartments.

Centerfield will have similar look and feel to the Water Street Flats, but different finishes. The apartments are expected to open around late summer 2019.

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But the investments aren’t just limited to the Water Street Distinct. Woodard Development plans to buy a vacant, six-story building at 601 E. Third St. called the McIntire company building.

The McIntire building, located in Webster Station, was constructed in 1912 and originally served as a wholesale grocery warehouse business.

Later, the building was used for storage and distribution. It has sat empty for years.

Today, Dayton commissioners will vote on whether to sell the building to Woodard for $10. The city purchased the building for $450,000 in 2012.

Woodard Development said he doesn’t know exactly what the plans will be for the building.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas,” he said.

There’s significant demand for distinctive and cutting-edge office space, and the structure is not perfect for housing, Woodard said.

The city says the developer’s investment in the building is expected to be at least $4.8 million.

The McIntire building has exceptional, 16-feet high windows containing painted murals that right now are covered by plywood, Woodard said.

Woodard also owns the five-story Lotz paper company building next door at 607 E. Third St.

The building has been rebranded as the Avant-Garde and is supposed to be part a key part of creating a new innovation district.

The first floor and basement of the Avant-Garde will be occupied by a restaurant, and the upper levels are expected to be offices, Woodard said. The 100-year-old building has original wood floors, exposed brick walls and a top floor that boasts 30-foot ceilings. Each floor is about 7,000 square feet.

“We’re still looking for tenants, but we’ve had a lot of interest,” Woodard said.

The hope is for the Avant-Garde to open in the spring. Woodard was hired by the owners of the Steam Plant Dayton — located on the same block, at 617 E. Third St. — to help transform the building into upscale offices and an event space.

Woodard also is under contract to buy a two-story office building at 210 N. St. Clair St. The building is home to Pinnacle Architects and formerly housed the HomeOwnership Center, which has moved to West Second Street.

The 12,000-square-foot building is in good shape and a good location, and there’s nice activity in the office market right now, Woodard said.

The building is across the street from Memorial Hall, which Woodard Development has been granted the exclusive right to redevelop from Montgomery County.

Woodard says Memorial Hall is a unique building with both major opportunities and challenges. He said changing its use entirely would be expensive.

Infrastructure improvements, the opening of RiverScape and Fifth Third Field and the Water Street development have put Webster Station on the map, said Amy Walbridge, Dayton’s special projects administrator.

“It’s on the map now and has its own brand,” she said.

The 600 block of East Third Street has had many false starts over the years, but the buildings are now getting into the hands of capable developers who have the resources to bring their projects across the finish line, Walbridge said.

Webster Station doesn’t have a lot of multi-tenant office product, except for Tech Town, which is filled up, Walbridge said.

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