Life has returned to the former Ohio Casualty complex, which once housed more than 1,000 insurance employees but went into a long-term shutdown July 23, 2010, when the last employees moved out, leaving for Liberty Mutual Group offices in Fairfield.
Moving in last week were 33 Asian students who will be attending Miami University’s Hamilton campus and perfecting their English. On Monday, the students were delighted to see the living spaces they will be occupying, with nice seventh-floor views of the city.
Jerry Martin Jr., regional director for Miami’s regional campuses global programs, said the living quarters are part of the rebirth of the building renamed the Third + Dayton project, for an intersection where it is located.
“I was in here before any of this was here, and to see the transformation is wonderful,” Martin said. “It was a dead building — it was a beautiful building, but this area was dead, and we are extremely happy to be contributing to the comeback of the building.
“To see this transformation in such a short amount of time is just amazing, and we hope to see more floors added.”
By Miami’s next quarter, the number of students in the program may increase to 64.
Meanwhile, on the same building’s sixth floor, pro football hall-of-famer Jim Brown’s Amer-I-Can program will have 40 to 50 people in Miami’s Work+ program living rent-free while working 24 hours a week and attending classes at Miami Regionals.
And on the eighth floor, the building’s owner, Los Angeles-based IRG (Industrial Realty Group LLC) is building out 24 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom units that should be available around the end of this year. Rental rates have not been announced.
Many possibilities are being explored for the lower levels, including possible street-level shops, offices, more apartments, even a hotel, as the city prepares for the 2021 opening of the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center.
William Schneller of CBRE Inc., which is marketing Third + Dayton, said the complex has some of the largest floor plates available in southwestern Ohio, with nearly 40,000 square feet apiece, or 55,000 on the same floor when two adjacent building spaces are combined.
Hamilton’s downtown area and Miami experiencing something of a housing boom. Among other developments:
- All 102 luxury units of the Marcum Apartments have been rented.
- Eleven of the 12 newly renovated “Davis Apartments,” located above the Village Parlor on Main Street, have been leased.
- ARK Capital Partners, based in Allentown, Pa., is planning a development of apartments and campus-type businesses, such as coffee shops, immediately adjacent to Miami’s Hamilton campus. Some 100 apartments are likely to start, in a development that the developer wants to feel like a part of the campus.
- Blue Ash-based CMC Properties, which built The Marcum development, is investigating the possibility of creating 50-60 apartments inside the former Hamilton municipal building at 20 High St.
Cathy Bishop-Clark, dean of Miami University’s regional campuses, said the housing at Third + Dayton “is great for both the city of Hamilton and our campus, because we’re able to bring more of an international dimension to our campus, so our students get to work with students from different nationalities, and become friends.
“We had a Chinese student play on one of our basketball teams in Middletown. These are good students, and they want to learn about the United States.”
So the students feel less isolated, and are more part of the community, Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce representatives plan to introduce them around, including to shop owners in the downtown area.
The move comes among other activity to transform the formerly empty building and continues Miami’s efforts to help international students at its regional campuses.
The students gathered Monday at the Hamilton building, now renamed Third + Dayton for an intersection where it is located. They were surprised by the spacious rooms with large suites where they will be living, they said.
“It’s really good here,” Jiaxian Lin, who goes by Lucas, said about the large, impressively built accommodations. “It’s very worth it to pay the money.”
“It is very nice. There’s no question about it,” Martin said. “I think this will help with our marketing efforts. These students will go on social media, the Chinese WeChat. They’ll take pictures of it. They’re very excited to be here.”
“Of course, the No. 1 reason they come here is for that academic portion,” Martin added, “but having facilities like this puts their minds at ease, and it really makes the parents also feel appreciated. They don’t have to worry about their kids.”
As the students drove to the Third+ Dayton building for the first time, they saw a familiar logo, for Neal’s Famous BBQ, that made them happy, Martin said.
“Neal’s Barbecue is right across the street, and we had Neal’s Barbecue over at Middletown for about 200 people last Tuesday,” he said. “So when we pulled in today and they saw Neal’s, it was amazing.”
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