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School house condos test strength of Dayton market

Although the building at 226 McDaniel St. hasn’t been used as a school house for decades, relics of its time as a place of learning make it one of the more unique living options in Dayton.

But despite its distinctive qualities, the Hawthorne School Condominiums haven’t sold as quickly as other urban housing nearby.

One challenge has been getting people to understand that McPherson Town, where the condos are located, is a downtown neighborhood, even though it’s not in the Central Business District, said Dave Williams, an owner’s representative for CityWide.

The owners also are offering renovation packages to buyers, hoping that some people will feel more comfortable springing for a unit if they know upgrades are coming.

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“Some people want to do it themselves, some people want it done” for them, Williams said.

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The Hawthorne elementary school was built in 1886. The school closed in 1974, but later served as a center for unwed mothers and then later as a practice space for dance companies.

The building was turned into apartments in the late 1990s. It was recently converted into 20 condos.

There’s still plenty of traces its former life as a school house.

One condo has the old gymnasium stage. Another unit has a chalkboard. There’s some old wooden desks in the hallway.

Most units have high tin ceilings.

One Hawthorne School condo has sold, another is under contract and one more is in talks for purchase.

But the condos have not been scooped up as quickly as some expected, considering the prices and location.

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McPherson Town isn’t in the Central Business District, but it is located just north, across the river, and the neighborhood’s housing market is as hot as any other in the city, Williams said.

RiverScape is a 10 minute walk, the Dayton Art Institute is even closer and it’s not much farther, especially by Link Bike, to the Oregon District, the Levitt Pavilion Dayton and other downtown hot spots.

“You have the advantages of being downtown, while being in a really cool historic area,” said Steve Seboldt, the exclusive sales agent for the Hawthorne School condominiums.

The Hawthorne condos also are more affordable than a lot of housing in the Central Business District, offering prices between about $58,000 to $159,900.

Units come as is, but buyers can pay for enhancement and upgrade packages to make them similar to the two models, Williams said. Two units have been renovated for purchase and to illustrate what the condos can look like after some additional investment.

The condo with the stage had its floors restored and received new appliances, counter tops and fixtures. The roughly 1,100-square-foot unit has new lighting, carpeting and paint. The unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The condos come with parking and a big communal backyard, boasting a large wood pergola.

Upgrade packages would likely take about four to six weeks to finish, or roughly the amount of time it takes to reach a closing, Williams said.

John Kurokawa, 47, purchased a Hawthorne condo unit as is, but plans some renovations.

He is installing smart technology, including lights and thermostat, and wants to replace the flooring. Other projects are likely down the line.

Kurokawa said it’s a good and safe neighborhood, and it’s extremely close to downtown.

“The location is great and I think they are priced very reasonably,” he said.

“And the building is cool, and there haven’t been any haunted children yet,” he joked.

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