DAYTON, Ky. -- It's been a nearly 10-year wait, but residents' patience will pay off Saturday when five finished homes open for tours and a 16-day celebration called HomeFest gets under way in the unique riverfront community of Manhattan Harbour.
“This has been talked about for a long time, now it’s having its coming out party,” said Brian Miller, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky. “This opens up a part of the housing market that just doesn’t exist.”
The five homes are part of a 41-single-family-home project along a re-engineered floodwall at the end of O’Fallon Avenue. It will be supplemented by five buildings of apartments, condominiums, restaurants and shops as well as a riverside trail. Home prices range from $995,000 to $1.9 million.
The homes at Manhattan Harbour have backyard and balcony views of the river, the Cincinnati Skyline and the tree-lined hillside along Columbia Parkway in Ohio. They feature open floor concepts, backyard porches, second-story balcony decks, lofts, party rooms, designer bathrooms and high-end materials, hardware, appliances and accessories.
Their project was proposed in 2005, but permit approval took two years, and the recession slowed the project for several years.
And then about 800,000 cubic yards of engineer-tested dirt had to be moved in order to reroute the floodway from behind to in front of the Dayton floodwall, said one of Manhattan Harbour’s developers, Dave Imboden.
Including the EPA, FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, “everybody had eyes on us to make sure we’d do it correctly,” Imboden said. The goal of maximizing the advantages of the riverfront site, he said, has been achieved.
“There’s no single family home on the Kentucky side that has nothing between it and the Ohio River,” Miller said. “I don’t know of a single family home where you can throw a rock into the river from your porch.”
“We’re not just selling the view, we’re selling serenity,” Imboden added.
Dodging painters, gardeners, stone masons and furniture stagers who were scrambling to make the completion deadline of 5 p.m. Friday, we toured three homes with Miller and builders Jim Cutter and Brent Walker.
Villa Courtyard by Cutter Construction of Cold Spring
Cutter’s three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom has a contemporary decor and was laid out by Studer Residential Designs of Cold Spring so that its owners could live on the first floor if they chose. The 3,800-square-foot, $1.35 million home’s ground-level master bedroom suite features an unobstructed view of the river through large windows, a spacious walk-in closet and a bedroom-sized bathroom with rounded glass block shower stall and double raised bowl sinks with waterfall faucets.
The carpeted bedroom opens to the back porch. Its most striking features are a large, ship-portal window facing the river and trompe-l’oeil ceiling.
The house’s foyer features an 8-foot by 4-foot waterfall on a 10-foot wall that separates it from the kitchen and great room. To the right are steps to a carpeted bonus room built on top of a three-car garage. To the left is a sunny study/office room accessible to the front courtyard through French doors.
The first floor also has one small and one large bedroom with bathrooms as well as a laundry room.
The kitchen faces the pale gray and white-trimmed great room and the Ohio River through a large bank of windows. A 4-foot by 8-foot island divides the two spaces, and a small-stone gas fireplace surround rises 16 feet to the ceiling. The flooring bamboo stained light gray and the kitchen cabinets are a darker shade of gray.
The fun in Villa Courtyard starts atop a spiral staircase in the northwest corner of the great room. Four pendant cylinder lights show the way to the “Steamboat Room” and its loft-style wet bar with China red cabinets and ship-style wall sconces.
The room has a half-bathroom, bead-board wainscoting and is equipped with a five-blade stainless steel fan that hangs from the middle of a star medallion painted on the ceiling. A 15-foot gray metal rail spans the opening to the great room and French doors open to a large, gray-railed, partially covered balcony whose deck is made of rubber roof tiles that provide foot-grip and drain off rainwater.
Capt. Morrow by Cutter Construction
Named after an Ohio River riverboat captain, this two-story, 4,400 square foot home features more Old World details than Villa Courtyard such as carved window frames with rosette corners, dumb waiter, ceramic tile entry, stained glass window, colorful art tiles and antique corner cabinets.
Like Villa Courtyard, the $1.5 million Capt. Morrow has a wide driveway with an attached, three-car garage set off to the side, creating a courtyard feel in the front.
Its entry, however, is strikingly different. Stand on the sidewalk and face the house, and you can see the Ohio River through the four-paneled glass front door and beyond the ceramic tile floored entry to a wall of windows in the great room.
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom house’s kitchen is designed for a theater performance by home cooks who can create on a six-burner Thermador stove top and then serve meals as they stand at an eight-sided, granite island that faces the distressed bamboo floored great room.
The room is ringed with crown molding on top of colorful tiles made by Florida Tile, which is sponsoring HomeFest Manhattan Harbour. The same tiles cover the risers on the oak staircase to the second floor.
The carpeted first-floor master bedroom suite has a gas fireplace through which you can see through to its other side in the great room. French glass doors open to the back porch and the river view. The hallway to the bathroom features walk-in his-and-her closets on either side and a small coffee bar with a granite sink and storage cabinets. The bathroom has a claw-foot tub under a south-facing window and back-to-back raised granite sinks.
Upstairs are two carpeted bedrooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom and expansive party room with large balcony facing the river. Behind a 15-foot, gently curved bar are a refrigerator, beverage cooler, dishwasher, microwave and sink.
La Belle Riviere by Walker Homes of Loveland
Builder Brent Walker said this $1.2 million home was inspired by the architectural details of homes in the historical districts of Covington and Newport. The spired roof peaks, standing seam metal roof accents and exterior coach lamps pay homage to the late 1800s, as does the house’s exterior limestone details.
La Belle Riviere has four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, a three-car courtyard garage and 3,700 square feet of living space. Unlike the Cutter homes, which are built on concrete slabs, the Walker home has a full basement that’s meant to be used for storage only.
Kenwood-based architect Ken Bowerman’s open layout features a dramatic oak and twisted iron-spindle staircase that rises through a turret-like well at the front of the house. Its simulated divided light windows bring in light all the way to the great room.
The first-floor master bedroom suite has a molded tray ceiling and faces the Ohio River. Sliding glass doors open to the backyard’s two-tiered patio and its fireplace. Like the bedroom, the master bathroom has eight-foot high doors. It features a platform bathtub, large shower stall, his and hers sinks and a walk-in dressing room with a built-in cabinetry that has eight ramped shelves for shoe storage.
Across the house is a study/office decorated in old-timey library style with dark wood-paneled wainscoting and dark green snake skin-like wallpaper. A nearby hallway to the garage features a large laundry room with plentiful storage and granite countertops. Tucked into the hall is a curved bench with four cubby holes for storage and nine pegs for hanging coats.
La Belle Riviere has three large bedrooms on the second floor. Two share a bathroom and a third has its own.
Style elements such as the home’s high-end hardware and stairwell chandeliers, Walker said, should attract buyers looking to move out of their suburban McMansions. La Belle Riviere, he said, is more about “right sizing than downsizing.”
About HomeFest Manhattan Harbour
The grand opening festivities begin Oct. 3 and run through Oct. 18 at the development. HomeFest attractions will include open houses, live music and art demonstrations, food trucks, wine and beer, the Dayton Kite Festival on Oct. 10 and more.
For festival details, go to the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky website’s summary page.