12-story apartment building proposed near Oregon District first in 50 years

The new owner of a high-rise apartment building for seniors near the Oregon District wants to construct a new “sister” building on adjacent land.

Redwood Housing Partners proposes constructing a 12-story apartment building at East Fifth and South Keowee streets offering 199 affordable apartments for senior citizens.

The project, called the Oregon Towers, would be next to the 12-story Jaycee Towers, which Redwood Housing purchased last year for $15 million, as well as the View at Dayton Towers, a 14-floor apartment building.

The Oregon Towers would be the first new high-rise apartment to be built in the Oregon planning district in about 50 years, since the urban-renewal era.

“This is going to be senior-designated affordable housing,” said Felipe Serpa, project manager with Redwood Housing Partners.

Last year, a limited partnership called the Jaycee Towers purchased the apartment building of that name for $15 million. Redwood Housing Partners controls the LP.

The building, at 440 Dayton Towers Drive, was constructed in 1972 and has 204 units of senior housing, according to auditor records.

Redwood Housing’s real estate deal included a large piece of vacant land north of the Jaycee Towers, at the southwest corner of South Keowee and East Fifth streets.

Serpa said his group has been working with an architect on plans for the vacant site since early 2020. The site is east of the View at Dayton Towers, which has more than 200 units and was built in 1963.

Serpa said the development team has worked with the city of Dayton’s planning department and revised their plans based on staff input.

The 199 apartments will be one-bedroom units for seniors, offering about 670 square feet of space, Serpa said.

He said residents will be eligible to live in the building if they earn 60% or less of the area median income, which is consistent with the income restrictions at the Jaycee Towers.

The project, Serpa said, could get underway in 2022, depending on financing and other factors.

The site plan calls for new landscaping, benches and community garden space, as well as a walkway that stretches across the property, said Robert Chordar, president of Akron-based TC Architects, which is helping design the project.

The site is about 3.3 acres, and Chordar said the proposed building is 137,688 square feet.

Chordar says they plan to create an entry plaza near the intersection of Fifth and Keowee streets, and the developer is interested in creating some retail space on the lower level of the building.

“This could be a small coffee shop that actually has outdoor seating, to really engage that sidewalk,” he said.

Redwood Housing has applied for two variances in support of the project that will require approval from the Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals.

The proposed apartment building is 128 feet tall, but the property is in a zoning district where the maximum allowable building height is 60 feet, said Tony Kroeger, Dayton’s planning manager.

The developer also proposes constructing 156 parking spaces, even though zoning code requires 317 spaces for a housing project of this size, Kroeger said.

But the Jaycee Towers has 204 parking spaces, most of which are never filled, Kroeger said.

The developer says the Jaycee Towers and the Oregon Towers will share parking.

“The city thinks the proposed parking is adequate based on the performance of the sister property, Jaycee Towers, which has one space per unit and is empty, empty, empty,” Kroeger said.

Kroeger said the Oregon Towers site plans have evolved over time in consultation with city planning staff. He said he did not want people to think that the project had been “fast-tracked,” because the development team reached out early.

“This was not a situation where the plans showed up in my email box and they said, ‘Put us on the agenda,’” Kroeger said.

Earlier this week, the Greater Downtown Downtown Land Use board voted in favor of recommending the approval of the two variance requests. Their recommendation will be shared with the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Many people for years have called for more affordable housing in the downtown area.

The vast majority of new product has been market-rate units, and residents have complained about a lack of housing for lower-income residents.

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