Where there now are a dozen freshly completed apartments above the Village Parlor Ice Cream Shop at 302 Main St., there once was an upstairs area that had water pouring through the roof.
The leaks were so bad that a former owner used children’s swimming pools to catch the water, Mike Dingeldein, executive director of the non-profit Hamilton CORE (Consortium for Ongoing Reinvestment Efforts) Fund, told the city’s Rotary Club last year.
“The way to control the roof leaks with the former owner was to buy plastic swimming pools and put them on the third floor,” Dingeldein said. “And so, they did that — they literally pumped the rain water out of the swimming pools, onto the street, through the windows, because they couldn’t figure out how to get the roof fixed.”
The CORE Fund is leasing what it calls the Davis apartments for between $775 per month for 657-square-foot single bedroom, single bathroom spaces and $1,122 for 902-square-foot single bedroom, single bath units.
The units come with a washer and dryer, quartz counter tops, white subway tiles, extra high ceilings, stainless steel appliances and a designated parking space for each apartment.
Some residents have been surprised by how high the rental rates seem to be. Yet seven have been rented — the first resident moved in Thursday — and someone has applied for an eighth unit, said Lauren Gersbach, a business development specialist for the city.
“We can continue to have interest and show them,” Gersbach said. “I think the fact the Mercantile Lofts, which is market-rate units, The Marcum, which is market-rate units, and now the Davis, market-rate units, continue to lease up quickly shows that there’s market demand here for that.”
The Marcum’s 102 apartments are leased out in the new complex that soon will feature a restaurant and shops near the Courtyard by Marriott and Marcum Park.
“The applications we’re getting for the Davis are everything from young professionals working in to the area to a grad student at Miami, to a retired couple that’s looking to downsize, and I think the same thing at the Marcum,” Gersbach said.
Until the new batch of apartments came to be, there was a void of market-rate housing for people wanting to live in Hamilton without owning homes, she said.
Aside from the ice cream shop, the Davis building houses three other retail shops.
“No doubt, what we learned on High Street was when the Mercantile opened, it changed the game downtown,” Dingeldein said about the 29-apartment Mercantile Lofts at 236 High St., which were renovated by Steve Coon’s Historic Developers LLC.
“And it wasn’t that there were 30-40 new residents living downtown, it was that there were people on the sidewalks, which made more people want to be on the sidewalks.”
High Street businesses like Sara’s House and Basil 1791 “aren’t surviving on residents of the Merc and Artspace (Lofts), but residents of the Merc and Artspace are filling the sidewalks, and causing other people to feel like it’s a place to be,” Dingeldein said. “I think the same exact thing applies to Main Street.”
Saving the Davis building from deteriorating also salvaged a cornerstone “book-end” building that’s a significant size, has nice architecture and occupies a corner.
Also, the building at 205 Main St., which will be restored by a private developer, “is going to happen, I believe, because the Quarter Barrel building and the Davis building happened,” he said.
“The best outcome is the next building that happens because of it,” Dingeldein said.
Main Street has been increasingly occupied by new businesses, with city officials expecting more announcements within the next couple of months, including a new micro-brewery to occupy the Quarter Barrel building at 103 Main St.
The city has found a company that wants to move in. An announcement has been delayed while the micro-brewery obtains financing.
Meanwhile, city officials also believe the under-construction Spooky Nook at Champion Mill convention center and gigantic indoor sports complex also will cause more businesses to open in coming months. Spooky Nook is scheduled to open in mid-2021.
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