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$168 million headed downtown

Downtown is attracting more companies, retail, entrepreneurs and housing.

Key elements of the plan to make downtown Dayton a vibrant and walkable destination are taking shape, with more than $168 million in investment coming to the Central Business District in the next four years.

A wide range of businesses are moving downtown, more companies and entrepreneurs are showing interest in vacant retail and commercial space and developers have announced plans to build hundreds of new housing units, according to information presented Tuesday during the annual meeting of the Special Improvement District.

Growing business activity and the addition of new, diverse housing products are strengthening downtown Dayton’s position as the premier place in the region to live, work, dine and shop, local community and business officials said.

“Things are accelerating,” said Mike Ervin, co-chair of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan. “I think we’re just getting started …”

By 2019, the cumulative investment in Dayton’s Central Business District will be least $300 million, according to data from the Downtown Dayton Partnership, which tracked projects since 2011.

The partnership estimates investments will exceed $64 million next year and $72 million in 2017. And these are just the projects that have been announced.

Downtown’s housing options are expanding, and business activities in the urban core are picking up.

There have been 347 residential units completed since the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan in 2010, the partnership said.

About 607 units are in the pipeline, including projects at Water Street, the Delco building by Fifth Third Field and the David building on East Third Street. Downtown has an apartment vacancy rate of 3.6 percent, which is the lowest in the region.

Earlier this year, Elliot Katz and his business partner, Winfield Scott Gibson, purchased several empty and underutilized buildings along East Third Street, including the David building.

Their plans are to create a hip, thriving entertainment district. To that end, the developers recently applied for more than $4 million in state historic tax credits to help renovate the David property.

The $19 million proposal is to create more than 120 apartments on the upper floors and hospitality space on the ground level.

Katz said construction hopefully will begin early next year. Also, Katz said he has identified several potential tenants for the ground floor.

Some major firms and employers are expanding downtown.

CareSource last week announced it will move about 225 employees into the Kettering Tower.

Miller-Valentine Group will renovate about 18,000 square feet of space in its building on North Main Street, which will allow the company to grow its downtown payroll to about 85 employees from 43 today.

Law firm Dinsmore & Shohl this year consolidated its two local offices into one expanded office on South Main Street. The decision was made, in part, after the firm polled its employees and found 80 percent wanted to remain downtown.

This year, 32 new businesses opened, signed leases or bought buildings downtown, the partnership said.

The partnership also said it has assisted with 73 site searches, which is up 50 percent from past years. The partnership said it assisted with 104 building tours of available office and retail space.

“We see employers choosing downtown,” said Scott Murphy, the partnership’s director of business development. “We see employers who once were in downtown, move back downtown.”

Since the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan, companies and employers have moved into and occupied 40,000 square feet of first floor space, the partnership said. Fifty-six start-up companies have moved into ground-floor spaces.

“We have filled more first-floor space in the last few years than we had in the last decade,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

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