Three Wright-Dunbar historic replica homes reach finish line

A Dayton neighborhood redevelopment project started by the now-defunct ISUS charter school is being completed — six years after the Great Recession froze it in time.

The project in the Wright-Dunbar Historic Neighborhood was an attempt to create an enclave of homes that were replicas of the childhood homes or buildings associated with aviation pioneers and invention greats, an initiative to dovetail with the Dayton Aviation Historical Park.

Three of six planned homes were put under roof but left unfinished before ISUS stopped working on them. They included a replica of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park lab and the John Glenn and Neil Armstrong family homes.

The Edison structure — a tall, brick home — has sold, as did the Armstrong replica home.

Elisha Shannon, 23, lives in the Edison home with a couple roomates. They share the mortgage payments.

“It’s been absolutely great living here,” he said. “It’s absolutely awesome. It’s cool enough that it’s Thomas Edison’s house.”

The finishing touches are now being applied to the replica childhood home of former U.S. Sen. John Glenn. It will be open for buyers to peruse at Dayton Homearama on July 22.

Won awards

ISUS was well-known as a vocational school located at 140 N. Keowee St., helping students who had dropped out get diplomas while teaching them to build homes. Founded in 1992, ISUS built and sold more than 50 homes that incorporated eco-friendly construction.

The school won a Points of Light Award in 2001 from President George H.W. Bush and the Ohio Senate Exemplary Achievement Award in 2010. But flagging support from donors and the housing market collapse ultimately depleted its finances.

In June 2012, ISUS, or Improved Solutions for Urban Systems, announced it would suspend operations. It was $2 million in debt.

The city of Dayton eventually filed tax foreclosures on the ISUS properties. Once in hand, the city transfered the properties for redevelopment to County Corp, Dayton and Montgomery County’s nonprofit development corporation.

The transfer included properties on North Williams Street, Hawthorn Street, and Mike Sells Way. County Corp began the business of finishing them so they could be sold.

Plenty of lots

The Glenn house will be the last of the three homes started by ISUS to be sold. Because federal funds were involved, the buyer will have to qualify as moderate income, said Adam Blake, County Corp’s vice presdent of housing.

The city of Dayton also owns about 50 parcels in Wright-Dunbar, which is bounded by West Third Street, South Broadway, West Fifth, and Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, said Erin Jeffries, the city’s acting community development manager.

The city is seeking developers for the other lots, Jeffries said. Sale proceeds will be rolled back into future development, she added.

Jeff Grisez, partner with Generations Construction in Dayton, is finishing the work on the Glenn house.

“This is a great neighborhood,” he said Thursday as painters worked on the structure. “This is a wonderful opportunity.”

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