Dayton, Kentucky:

The 'Next OTR' for Hot Real Estate, Community Revitalization

Photography by Catie Viox


Dayton, Kentucky?” you may be asking yourself. Yes.

It may be hard to believe, but Cincinnati abounds with amazing community growth stories. Who would have ever thought six years ago, for example, that Sports Illustrated would dub Cincinnati the new home of American Soccer, with Cincinnati hosting its own major league soccer team, FC Cincinnati? Twenty years ago, who would have imagined all the restaurants, bars and condominiums now lining the streets of OTR? And no one could have ever predicted that Madisonville, a community in economic decline for 50 years, would today be one of the hottest home markets in the tri-state area.

And now, Dayton.

This sleepy little river town in Northern Kentucky is about to experience the same type of economic rejuvenation that has transformed these other communities.

Ten key catalysts in Dayton’s astounding transformation are:

1. Great Schools. Recruiting Jay Brewer, Superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools, from renowned Fort Thomas Independent Schools in 2012 brought best practices and a top  “excellent” rating to the school district, raising the expectations among educators.

2. New Residents, More Discretionary Income. The Dayton community is projected to welcome 700 new residents with a high level of discretionary income in the next 24 to 36 months. This is a staggering statistic, one which will permanently and positively shape the community for generations to come.

3. Timing. Have you ever driven through one of the revitalized areas of Cincinnati and said, “I wish I would have purchased a piece of property here 20 years ago?” Well, Dayton is an opportunity to get in on the next big housing market boon – likened by some to the Gold Rush of the 1800s – for people looking to purchase real estate and increase the equity in their investment property at a much faster rate than other already-established communities.

4. Location, Location, Location. While OTR, East Walnut Hills and Madisonville are great areas with excellent amenities just five minutes from Downtown Cincinnati, one thing they haven’t got is a breathtaking view of the Ohio River combined with a picturesque panoramic view of the beautiful Cincinnati skyline.

5. Business Friendly. The city’s Commercial Community Advantage Program (CCAP) offers great incentives for businesses to locate in Dayton. The program is an example of the type of partnership Dayton wants to have with the business community, encouraging greater investment in the business district. CCAP incentives include commercial rental abatements offsetting the cost of rent by 50 percent during a business’ first two years and 25 percent their third year. The program is designed to increase average property value as well as assist in preserving the city’s historic structures.  With the increase in residents in Dayton, businesses will find Dayton to be a lucrative location to expand or open a new business.  We are already seeing great businesses, restaurants and shops move into the area.

6. Forward-Thinking City Government Officials. Leading the CCAP Program charge during his tenure as Economic Development Chairman, Dayton Vice Mayor Ben Baker, 40, is but one example of the young, forward-thinking talent at the helm of Dayton’s city government.  Other officials that are assisting with the development of Dayton include Mayor Virgil Boruske, and the City Manager, Michael Giffin. “Dayton has been very aggressive in bringing new residents and businesses to our community, which is paying off,” says Baker. “We’re seeing residents experiencing incredible significant growth in the value of their properties in a short time. And it’s exciting to see new businesses moving in.”

7. Proximity to Desirable Neighborhoods. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Oakley – because it is located next to Hyde Park – was the place many young professionals started to live. They could purchase houses at a lower cost and at the same time have all the amenities that Hyde Park offered. Fast-forward 20 years. Similarly, Dayton is Belleview, Kentucky’s next-door neighbor. Belleview has a dynamic downtown with a strong economic base and one of the best-looking cityscapes in the region. And it’s all spilling over into Dayton.

8. Manhattan Harbour Marina. The marina is owned by Mark Stark, founder and CEO of one of the region’s largest and most successful privately held companies. He has the business acumen and personal financial strength to continue to invest in the marina, thus making it a dynamic draw for people who desire the boating lifestyle and embrace riverfront living.

9. Experienced Developers. Having experienced, seasoned developers with the necessary financial resources and commitment to the Dayton community is paramount to this river town’s renaissance. One example is Miles Scully and Brendan Sullivan of Manhattan Development, LLC. They have a national presence as a developer who has the unique ability to bring a team together and create amazing, successful projects. The team includes Architect Jim Read of James Read and Associates; Alan Adams of Adams Real Estate Advisors in Rochester, New York; Cardinal Engineering; DMG Contractors; and Nelson Stark Company. In addition, they are working with First Financial Bank of Cincinnati, First Bank of Illinois, and Republic Bank.

10. High-Quality Real Estate Inventory. Manhattan Development is currently developing the $20 million, 76-unit Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor luxury apartment community in Dayton, scheduled to open next summer.  The units range in size from 750 to 1,350 square feet. Amenities include covered off-street parking, a work out area, hearth room/café, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, high-end flooring and cabinetry – all the have-to-haves. And not to be overlooked – easy access to local expressways.


Situated south of the levee near Manhattan Harbour’s west entrance, Gateway Flats sports a landscaped plaza built atop the levee to offer access to the apartment complex via a pedestrian bridge, leading to the nearby Riverfront Commons trail. The 17-mile public walking and biking trail will connect all the riverfront cities from Fort Thomas to Ludlow, Kentucky when completed. The cities of Newport and Covington have already completed their portions of the trail, and Dayton is starting its portion of the trail this fall. The fourth story of the Gateway Flats apartment complex will provide a shared rooftop patio with covered observation decks for residents’ relaxation and entertaining, equipped with outdoor grills, refrigerators, counters and plenty of seating.

Gateway Flats truly exudes the perfect luxury lifestyle combination, developers note. With only nine apartment units per floor, residents can enjoy a level of privacy like an exclusive gated community, while the common gathering/entertainment spaces encourage neighborhood camaraderie.

In addition to the Gateway Flats apartment project, Manhattan Development, LLC, is also the catalyst behind Boulevard Flats and River Commons, riverfront buildings with lease-to-own options being built along the northern side of Manhattan Boulevard, fronting beautiful views of the Ohio River. The larger building will offer 12 units, each 1,450 to 1,950 square feet in size, and the smaller building will offer four two-bedroom, two-bath units in a similar size range. This $8.5 million project is also expected to be completed and begin sales/leasing next summer.


Luxury Development Projects
Offer Buyers More Options

Finding quality real estate in this seller’s market has been incredibly challenging for people wanting to purchase or rent. Quality properties often go into multiple offers within the first 24 hours of going on the market. The booming economy combined with the record low level of real estate inventory has driven up demand as well as prices.

One of the exciting things making Dayton, Kentucky attractive to so many renters as well as buyers is the high-quality real estate inventory being developed – and along the river front, to boot.

This diverse multifamily offering at Manhattan Harbour is a perfect example.

It is estimated that pricing will be from the low $400,000 to the mid $500,000s, and modifications and upgrades will be allowed.

All in all, it’s an outstanding opportunity for locking in luxurious living at a reasonable price, says Debbie Robke, realtor with Keller Williams Realty. She has already pre-sold six units and the list is growing.

“I have been involved with the project since 2015, and this is the most exciting development project in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. You can own luxury riverfront property at the price of what you pay for rent. This is the only developer offering an ownership equity building program in this area.”

The entire Manhattan Harbour Development project is designed to put the Ohio River and unobstructed views of Downtown Cincinnati in front of every resident, giving them a tranquil setting on the edge of the city’s stage as well as quick links to the smaller towns nearby, says Jim Read, architect/designer.

“Many parts of the metro area are undergoing a renaissance, [so] it was with great interest in this vibrant ‘back to the city’ movement that we felt we could create something great in Dayton. I have talked to many people who are craving a lifestyle connected to the river and the energy of the city.

“As a designer, you look to provide the qualities of life that will create the best living environment,” he adds. “The essentials are safety, security, comfort and location. Some residential projects stop there. But this product offers those quality-of-life essentials and more.”

This project promises a huge impact on Dayton.

“We’re excited because it’s something we have planned for and talked about for a long time, and it’s exciting to see the vision become a reality,” says Dayton City Manager Mike Giffen. “It’s huge for our city because not only is the multi-family development very nice, it’s bringing in a larger population to feed into the Dayton community.”

Dayton, with a current population of about 6,300, once boasted 10,000 residents before the flood wall was built, he explains.

“The [Manhattan Harbour] development is important on so many levels because it’s helping bring back a portion of our lost population and supporting the city and business district economically. More people will be living here, shopping here, dining here, and we’ve been putting things in place in our business district so that as our community continues to grow again, people can enjoy our revitalized business district.”


The Lease-And-Create-Equity Program

My friend’s daughter was renting a condo for years. “Wouldn’t it be great if they took a part of your monthly rent and gave it to you as a down payment if you decided to purchase the condo?” I asked her. Of course, she answered “yes.” Well, if this makes sense to you, the lease-and-create-equity program might be something you want to consider. The program’s popularity is easy to understand.

Many younger people have been hesitant to purchase a home because of a lack of a down payment, while more established purchasers are still personally recovering from stock market losses during the Great Recession. The good news is, the economy is doing great, wages are up and creating equity while renting just makes sound financial sense.


Four aspects of the lease-and-create-equity program
that make it a winner:

1. Everything to Gain. As a renter, you pay nothing extra for being in the program. If you decide just to rent, it costs no more. If you later decide you want to buy, boom! You have a portion of your down payment ready at hand.

2. Flexibility. Sometimes it takes people a while to warm up to the idea of purchasing a home. With the lease-and-create-equity program, people can get a feel for a property without having to buy it first.

3. Locked-In Pricing. The Federal Reserve is predicted to raise interest rates once again. And when interest rates go up, real estate prices go up, too. With the lease-and-create-equity program, you are locked in at today’s pricing.

4. Create Equity While Leasing. You’re going to pay your rent monthly anyway, so you might as well create a down payment and subsequent equity at the same time. Many people have a difficult time saving money. This program allows you to save money for a down payment without changing your spending habits.