The owners of one of the biggest commercial real estate developments in Montgomery County are gathering information about the market value of their property in a private listing.
But that doesn’t mean a sale of Austin Landing is necessarily imminent.
VisCap Development, asset manager of Austin Landing, is testing the market to see what potential owners see as the value is for the $200 million side of Austin Boulevard, said Larry Dillin, president of VisCap.
The goal is not necessarily to change ownership, Dillin said. The goal is to learn what the market sees as Austin Landing’s value, at the end of the sprawling mixed-used commercial area’s “first phase” of development.
“This is really just an investigative step that will lead to more decision-making,” Dillin said
$330 million of development still possible
On the south side of Austin Boulevard, another projected $330 million of development is still possible. The owners are exploring the value of the north, developed side of Austin, not the south, undeveloped side (also called “Austin South.”)
Still, Dillin cautioned that it would be wrong to presume that Austin Landing will soon have a new owner. But he also said this is the second time in more than two years that owners have tested the market.
“In every real estate investment, just like every stock investment, there comes a time to determine whether you should sell, whether you should restructure, whether you should re-invest,” Dillin said in an interview. “We’re at the point in the development when we’re nearing completion of the first phase of the development plan. There’s not too much left (on the north side of Austin).”
What could happen?
Testing the market will help the owners decide what to do next. Options include:
- Sell off the property.
- Continuing developing.
- Dispose of one or more pieces of the developed side.
- Restructure financing.
- Some of the multiple investors in the site could want to “cash out.”
“There are lots of different possibilities,” Dillin said.
Asked which option is most likely, he said: “It’s truly a decision that cannot be made yet.”
The area that has become the new gateway to the Dayton metro area for Interstate 75 traffic from Cincinnati. Dillin thinks Austin Landing will maintain its value for three to five decades.
‘Once in a lifetime property’
The 142-acre Austin Landing project was spearheaded initially by RG Properties, led by Randy and Bo Gunlock, which owned Miami Twp. land around what become the Austin Boulevard interchange a decade ago.
RG handed management of Austin Landing to VisCap and Dillin in early 2016.
The north side of Austin Boulevard offers retail, Class-A business offices, restaurants, public spaces, hotels and more. The latest projects are an $8 million office tower and a $1.1 million Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
“We’re talking a couple of hundred-million dollars of investment here,” Dillin said.
Chris Kershner, executive vice president for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said Austin provides a good option for the businesses in southwest Ohio.
If you’re looking to locate where you have highway access to major metro areas — Dayton and Cincinnati — Austin “is the perfect place to be,” he said.
For those who want a more urban environment, downtown Dayton is better, Kershner said.
Austin is positioned to draw workers from both the Dayton and Cincinnati areas, he added. Kershner noted that he lives in Springboro, where plenty of families have someone who works in Dayton and someone who works in Cincinnati.
The southern Montgomery County-Northern Warren County area is a natural center of gravity between the two.
“The name of the game for companies these days is workforce recruitment and workforce development,” he said.
“We truly believe this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime properties,” Dillin said.
The property is listed privately. Asked if he is negotiating with a prospective new owner, Dillin said, “No.”
Asked what he has learned so far about Austin Landing’s perceived value, he said: “We’re still in that process.”
The next phase of development awaits, on the south side of Austin Boulevard. At Austin South, there are 68 acres, about the same size as the developed, north parcel.
VisCap has drafted a development plan for the south side, Dillin said — and VisCap projects that developing that side would take about $330 million of private investment.
“The difference between about $200 (million) and $330 (million) on about the same acreage, means we’re looking at a project on the south side of the road that is more dense than the north side,” Dillin said.
So another possible investment move is to increase density of development on the north side, to match the expected density on the south side, he said.
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