What New Apartment Buildings on Dayton's Riverfront May Look Like

New apartments planned at Dayton’s Manhattan Harbour development just took another step toward brick-­and­-mortar reality.
Spokesmen from James Read & Associates presented to a brand new Dayton City Council on Tuesday their preliminary specifications for the two buildings planned near the riverfront. The developers said that they hope the presentatin will bean example of a relationship with the city defined by constant communication and updates.
“We’d like to stay in front of you on a month ­to month basis,” said Brandon Sullivan, JRA spokesman, to council.
Architect Jim Read detailed what he called “site­ plan” design specs for the two residential buildings, which are planned to stand five and a half stories just south of the city’s flood levee, right along the bend on Manhattan Blvd. Each building's top four floors will hold 27 units total, 18 two-­bedroom and nine one-­bedroom dwellings. The bottom story­ and­ a ­half will house indoor parking, two parking spaces per unit.
The plans also include a playground with terraces surrounding the area.
The average size of each dwelling, they said, will be around 750 square­ feet, as Sullivan explained that market research they have done indicates a growing demand for smaller units.
“They might get a little bigger as we move forward in the design,” said Read, reminding council and residents that this is still the engineering phase of the project. Before
any construction can begin, they said, the developers and the city will have to clear their plans with the Army Corps of Engineers, to guarantee the integrity of the flood wall would remain in tact.
“The location of these first buildings is critical in this first phase,” said Read.
“Our objective tonight is to show you placement of where we’ll put the first two buildings,” Sullivan said. “Then we would engage civil and structural engineers."
But the height of the proposed buildings — which will extend roughly 40 feet above the top of the flood wall — and their proximity to the flood wall were primary concerns among residents and council.
“We understand people living south of these buildings will have to look at them, too,” Sullivan said, noting that the exterior design of the buildings will be the same on the north and south faces.
After the presentation concluded, Councilman Bill Burns quickly turned to Read and Sullivan to ask how far south of the flood wall the buildings will sit, to which Sullivan responded that knowing exactly how far will not be determined until the Corps of Engineers can review the plans. Sullivan said they hope to have a better sense of that by next month’s meeting.
That did not conclude Burns’s concerns, though, as he went on to question who is the target market for these apartment­-sized units. In a moment reminiscent of Bellevue’s anxiety over opening their housing market to renters instead of homeowners — a dispute that ultimately led to killing a proposed riverfront apartment development in the neighboring city — Burns asked, “Are these condos or apartments?".
Sullivan acknowledged that the design and initial marketing of the units will be as apartment dwellings, but also made sure to note that each unit is designed with what he
called “condo ­potential” in mind. Each unit will have its own electrical, gas, and heating systems, and, in the future, the buildings could be transitioned to an ownership­based model.
“I don’t care what you call it,” Burns fired back. “This is an apartment building.”
When asked if an apartment complex fit with what Dave Imboden, chief developer for the Manhattan Harbour project, has in mind for the development, Imboden said, “Yes, this will complement the rest of the development.” The surrounding single family homes will be priced in the high six figures and above.
Apartments or condos, Sullivan explained these units will be targeted at interested renters within a five­ mile circumference of the location, drawing from both sides of the Ohio River.
Pending approval from the Corps of Engineers, Sullivan said, “We’d like to try to start sometime this summer.” The plans presented Tuesday night are not yet finalized.
Written by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor