In a push to attract new businesses to the city, Kettering could soon buy 305 acres of the land in the Miami Valley Research Park.
The city is expected to approve a contract Tuesday to purchase the undeveloped land in the Kettering portion of the giant commercial business park. The non-profit foundation, Miami Valley Research Foundation, that runs the development has been looking to sell off land and buildings.
Gregg Gorsuch, Kettering’s economic development manager, told the Dayton Daily News that if council agrees to the contract, the city would close on the deal in July. He said the deal will cost the city $1.5 million at closing, and could go up to $3 million if certain deed restrictions are lifted. The deal does not include any buildings already standing.
One of those major deed restrictions requires any business that moves into the park to be science or research-oriented. Gorsuch said the purchase would allow Kettering to lure in new businesses and help current businesses expand within city limits — a major economic driver.
» INITIAL REPORT: Kettering to purchase 305 acres of Miami Valley Research Park
“The biggest restriction is the requirement for any business operation going out there having to have a research and development component to it,” he said. “It’s fine, we can do that, but it would open it up to more business opportunities if it was lifted.”
If the restrictions are removed, the city would then be able to utilize its locally controlled zoning codes to work with prospective businesses, said Stacy Wall Schweikhart, city spokeswoman.
The business park spans 1,250 acres in Kettering and Beavercreek and is home to some of the Miami Valley’s largest companies, including Reynolds and Reynolds. In October, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Miami Valley Research Foundation was looking to sell four buildings and more than 700 acres of undeveloped land valued at $30 million.
In the early 1980s, the state granted more than 600 acres of land and $20 million to develop a business park that would focus on research, scientific, academic and related organizations. Later, more land was purchased in Beavercreek to bring the total to 1,250 acres — that land does not have a deed restriction that the original land has, which stipulates what type of company can acquire residence within the park.
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Land Holding LLC will assume ownership of the four existing buildings from the foundation. The University of Dayton, Wright State University, and Sinclair Community College will continue to lead efforts, in collaboration with regional leaders, to attract innovative new organizations to the complex, according to a statement.
Local college presidents from Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton and Wright State University are permanent trustees of the foundation, and they now say the park should transition into a new phase — with new ownership of the land, different leadership in the foundation, and a loosening of property deed restrictions.
WSU, Sinclair and UD presidents are permanent Class A trustees, and MVRF board chair Steve Johnson said they don’t see the need for presidents to be required leaders of the foundation. It would require state action to officially take the presidents off the board.
“The Miami Valley Research Foundation Board is pleased with this news, both for what it means for our community and for the future of the Miami Valley Research Park,” Johnson said. “This investment provides an excellent opportunity for economic development for the future of our community and also provides the Research Park with the stability needed to move forward. This is a great day for all parties involved.”
The original purpose was to promote scientific and technology-based work within higher education while creating a tighter knit community of local universities. Johnston told this newspaper in a previous interview that the recession had impacted the economic health of the park, and it was difficult to use the same business model the park was founded under.
As the economy bounces back, the land will open new opportunities for the city, said Kettering Mayor Don Patterson. He said the universities worked graciously with the city to execute the land purchase.
“Reinvestment in the Miami Valley Research Park is essential to the long term growth and stability of our region,” Patterson said. “As a land-locked community, the opportunity to acquire green space appropriate for commercial development is rare and one we couldn’t pass up. We are confident that this is a wise investment for the future of Kettering.”
BY THE NUMBERS
1,250: total acres in the park
$410 million: amount of capital investment in park development
22: total buildings in the park
450: total acres developed in the park
4,000+: workers in the park at various companies