Transformative Real Estate Development Rolling Along the Riverfront

Photography by Catie Viox


Leading the charge are developers Miles Scully and his partner Brendan Sullivan. From the moment Scully and Sullivan first laid eyes on the property from a mud-caked, four-wheel drive vehicle stuck sideways in the muck and mire one cold, wet, winter day a few years ago, they recognized the site’s exceptional potential. Despite the bleak weather, they immediately envisioned the possibilities inherent with such a seemingly endless riverfront.

“It was the worst possible day to look at the property, but we fell in love with it,” the affable and energetic Sullivan recalls. “I’ve been a developer for 30-plus years, and I’ve heard it 100 times – ‘You really have to look at this property.’”

But this time, when local developer Dave Imboden said to him, “You gotta see this property,” it was the real deal, he says.

Construction of the four-story, 76-unit Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor began earlier this year. The apartment complex, with units ranging in size from 750 to 1350 square feet, is located south of the levee near Manhattan Harbour’s west entrance.

The Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor project includes a landscaped plaza built atop the levee, offering access to the apartment complex via a pedestrian bridge to the nearby Riverfront Commons walking trail, a 17-mile public trail linking all the riverfront cities from Fort Thomas to Ludlow, Kentucky. The cities of Newport and Covington have already completedtheir portions of the trail, and Dayton is starting construction of its portion of the trail this fall.

“On the fourth story [of the apartment complex] will be an amazing shared rooftop patio equipped with outdoor grills, refrigerators, countertops, pergolas, and seating,” Sullivan notes.He expects Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor to be completed by next summer. Rent is estimated to cost about $2 per square foot.


Giving Back

The Manhattan Harbour project impacted a children’s playground. Sullivan and his development team saw to it that replacement trees were planted elsewhere around the community and funded the relocation of the playground to a nearby area, complete with new equipment.


It Didn’t Happen Overnight

Sullivan acknowledges the integral role Imboden, owner of DCI Properties, and Mark Stark, president and owner of Nelson Stark Construction, have played in initially driving the Dayton riverfront real estate development. Imboden began working on his Manhattan Harbour project in 2005, and the development slowed down when the recession hit in 2008. He never gave up, however, and with Stark’s help, more than a million cubic yards of dirt from area construction sites were eventually trucked in to raise the riverfront 22 feet above the floodplain. The first of 10 upscale single-family homes at Manhattan Harbour was constructed early in 2015.

“Without them in the picture, Miles and I would not be where we are with the development today,” Sullivan says. “We’ve managed to go under contract with Dave for a larger portion of the development of the west end, and Dave and Mark are working with us on the second half of developing the site.”

Manhattan Development is also full-steam ahead with its plans this fall to build two transitional apartment buildings (with lease-to-own options) along the northern side of Manhattan Boulevard, both touting beautiful views of the Ohio River. The larger building will offer 12 lease-to-own units, each 1,450 to 1950 square feet in size, and the smaller building will offer four two-bedroom, two-bath units in a similar size range.

The estimated $8.5 million Commons at Manhattan Harbour project is also expected to be completed and the units open by next summer.

It is estimated that pricing will be from the low $400,000’s to the mid-$500,000’s.  The development team will also allow for modifications to upgrade from an already high-end property.

An ambitious development schedule, yes, but Scully and Sullivan are clearly up to the challenge. Both predict occupancy at Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor, with its coveted riverfront views, will be in high demand.

“I have been involved with the project since 2015, and this is the most exciting project in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area,” says Debbie Robke, realtor with Keller Williams Realty. “At Manhattan Harbour, you can own luxury riverfront property for the price of what you pay for rent. You can’t do that anywhere else in this area.”

“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 here in Dayton.” – Jim Read


A Terrific Economic Boost

“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 a testament to Dave [Imboden], who spent a lot of time getting this property ready for development during tough financial times. So, kudos to him. He survived the storm when others couldn’t, and he stayed the course. It’s been a long road, but all the planning is finally coming to fruition.”

Sullivan and his development group are the first to come in with the multi-family component, Giffen adds. “That’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.

“We lost a good chunk of our population back then. The flood wall was a huge asset, but it displaced a lot of our population, and we’ve been struggling with that for about the past 30 years.  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. It’s already having a noticeable positive impact. 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 support our revitalized business district.” And people are investing again in property within the community outside of the development area.

So much has been going on behind the scenes to ensure the Manhattan Harbour development vision is finally realized, and now the public is seeing the progress, he adds.

“As the project goes vertical, it’s exciting for everyone,” Giffen says. “It’s all falling into place.”


Details: The Gateway Flats at Manhattan Harbor are already under construction and are expected to begin pre-leasing Spring of 2019.  The Boulevard Flats and The Commons are expected to begin construction late 2018 and begin sales/leasing in Summer of 2019.  For more information call, Debbie Robke  at 859.462.3872.