The 257 residential building permits issued in the city of Dayton since the start of 2012 are more than any other community in the area, including growth areas such as Beavercreek and Washington Twp., according to data from the Homebuilders Association of Dayton.
The city is riding a surge of momentum in homebuilding the past three years, as nonprofit agencies, tax credits and other public funding have contributed to multiple projects aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods.
“At one point years ago, the city of Dayton led in permits, and I think that was attributed to the property up by Huber Heights, Forest Ridge, but in recent years we haven’t seen this kind of activity,” said Walt Hibner, executive director of the Homebuilders Association of Dayton.
The Germantown Village townhomes, a 60-unit affordable housing development that replaced a blighted block in West Dayton, was the latest to come online last month. That comes on the heels of two 80-home new-construction developments being built in other low-income neighborhoods since 2011, plus multiple condominium projects downtown.
“The projects ebb and flow,” said Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development. “There are ups and downs based on whether we’re awarded the tax credits or not, because the financing really drives it. … There’s a long lead time. We have projects in the pipeline now that you’ll see ribbon-cuttings for in 2018.”
Dayton has its share of market-rate new construction going on, with downtown condominiums from Simms Development and others, plus single-family homes in the Forest Ridge area in northeast Dayton.
But a big piece of Dayton’s recent construction is subsidized, affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods.
Twin Towers Crossing, an 80-house development in southeast Dayton, is nearly finished, thanks to the efforts of Oberer Development, St. Marys Development Corp., East End Community Services and others.
The Roosevelt Homes 80-house development, by Miller Valentine and St. Mary’s, aims to reinvigorate the area around the new Greater Dayton Recreation Center on West Third Street and is halfway finished. Both rely on a mix of public and private funding.
Hibner said he’s not surprised to see new construction in the subsidized area.
“The whole thing with Greater Dayton Premier Management (Dayton’s housing authority) getting away from the big Parkside or Desoto Bass to a more distributed arrangement, we’re seeing that come into play (in construction),” Hibner said. “And there have been nonprofits coming in and putting up affordable housing for a long time, like St. Marys.”
But Hibner said Dayton also has momentum on the market-rate side, especially downtown, where Simms’ condominiums are selling faster than he can build them, the new Sixth Street Lofts are now open, the proposed 200-unit Student Suites complex is scheduled to open next year and the proposed 160 apartments at Water Street have gotten city approval.
“The affordable, or subsidized, housing and the market-rate are two very different worlds,” Hibner said. “So there’s two different things going on, and it happens to be simultaneously. And I think it’s good, because it creates economic diversity in town. … It raises property values for everything around them, which then brings the taxes back in.”
The Dayton area’s entire market-rate homebuilding industry is slowly recovering from last decade’s 75 percent slide. But Hibner said the fastest recovery is coming at lower price points, as developments like Carriage Trails in Huber Heights and Oak Pointe in Moraine have success. Hibner said consumer confidence is the key to the market.
Among communities tracked in the local homebuilders’ data, Huber Heights had the second-most residential building permits in 2012-13, with 222. Washington Twp. had 197, Beavercreek 166 and Fairborn 104.
Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell called Germantown Village “a game-changer” for the surrounding neighborhood. Jeff Rieck, a development manager for Greater Dayton Premier Management, said the overwhelming demand (more than 400 applications for 60 townhomes), means GDPM and the city likely will pursue building future phases of housing nearby.
“It’s going to help a lot of people,” said neighborhood resident Nawassa Williams. “There’s people around here with no homes, and God’s going to bless them with something good.”
Whitney Weller, senior vice president of Michaels Development Co., said her company could not have accomplished the Germantown Village project without partnerships with GDPM, the city, and financers U.S. Bank and United Healthcare.
State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said some of his colleagues in Columbus don’t support those types of partnerships.
“But when housing concerns are eased, people can devote more time and energy to their job and education and family,” Beagle said. “It improves their quality of life.”
Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan said with population down in recent decades, the city has not wanted housing inventory to increase, taking a “demolish two, build one” approach. But there’s no guarantee that construction will continue even at the pace that it has.
“With stimulus funds, we were able to cover the (financing) gap in more projects than we would have been able to in the past,” Sorrell said. “In the past it was one (project) a year, two if we were good. With the stimulus we were doing three or four at a time. As that winds down, unless we get another influx, we’re probably back to that 40 or 50 (homes) a year production.”