Downtown living: Hamilton’s urban areas gaining residential popularity with growing options

When Cy Wood moved from New York City to teach high-school students, “I moved to Hamilton, Ohio, basically sight unseen,” he said with a laugh. “I knew 100-percent, zero people when I moved here.”

Wood, 39, teaches vocal music and theater at Butler Tech School of the Arts. He moved into a Hamilton apartment because it was close to the school. Yet noticing some empty downtown buildings at the time, he thought when he got more established he might move to a bigger city, like Cincinnati.

“As soon as I moved here, I started meeting people,” he said. “And living downtown, I got to know so many people, and there’s such a great community.”

The empty buildings downtown and along Main Street’s shopping corridor have been filling, impressing Wood with the city’s development and its young leaders. Last summer, he bought a house in the Dayton Lane neighborhood.

Logan Walden, 34, said he enjoyed living downtown in the Artspace Lofts since mid-2019. Growing up in Preble County and Trenton, Hamilton was never “a destination point” for him, he said. But a friend invited him for a visit, and he was impressed with the city’s Marcum Park and small businesses.

“The past couple years, it’s just been great, and I’ve loved it here,” he said. “What I do as an artist, it’s the first town I’ve lived in where I feel really appreciated as an artist,” particularly because of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts and the StreetSpark program. He painted one mural for StreetSpark, called RoBros, of two machines; another beneath the city’s McDulin Parking Garage downtown for the Strauss Gallery; and he’s working on other public artworks.

Hamilton has seen increases in apartments around its downtown and Main Street business corridors in recent years.

“They fill them as fast as we get them,” said Mallory Greenham, a small-business development specialist with Hamilton. “It’s exciting to see people not only living downtown, but that the upper floors have been activated, and more and more developers are interested in putting housing down here.”

Here are some other recent housing additions:

  • At the Third+Dayton complex, which used to house Ohio Casualty, Los Angeles-based IRG (Industrial Realty Group LLC), early this year made available 28 apartments on the building’s top level, the eighth story. Those include four two-bedroom units and 24 single-bedroom ones. Earlier, housing for students opened in the building.
  • Becco Homes is developing eight more market-rate apartments created within existing space above shops at 107 and 117 Main St.
  • Six units are available at 201 Main St., above the soon-to-open Billy Yanks burger-and-beer bar.
  • A dozen apartments above the Village Parlor ice cream shop, which is at 302 Main St.
  • Earlier, The Marcum complex of 99 apartments, bars, restaurants and a salon opened downtown. The developer now is planning about 80 apartments on Main Street that will be called the Rossville Flats.

“I love it,” Wood said about Hamilton, “It still has small-town feel, but all of the charm, and all the things that make it interesting for people who come to visit.”

“My family who comes to visit are blown away with Hamilton. They love it,” Wood said about the people, restaurants and the city’s charm. “They’re interested to see the other cities around, but they’re fine with chilling in Hamilton just because of how great it is.”

“I consider Ohio home now,” Wood said, “which I never thought would be a thing I would think about. I feel like I’m a Hamiltonian for life.

As for Walden, “I love having my studio here. I love how it’s still kind of a small town that you can walk around and say hi to people. People have a real genuine love for the town and the community. Especially last year with all the divisiveness, seeing a town say together and push through has been really inspiring to me.”

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