Developers sought for former fairgrounds

The property manager for the former Montgomery County fairgrounds has started conversations with developers about the creation of a new neighborhood on the site that has the potential to be one of the most significant developments in Dayton in years.

The former fairgrounds, between South Main, Stewart and Apple streets, was bought in 2017 by University of Dayton and Premier Health and they want to have a new neighborhood, to be called onMain, built on the 38-acre site.

The university and Dayton-area hospital network recently formed a property management organization called onMain and on Thursday night held a community feedback meeting about how the future neighborhood could be designed.

Buddy LaChance, CEO of OnMain, said he has been talking with developers about the project and seeing if different types of development are viable.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in the housing piece,” LaChance said.

The plan is for the development to start along Main and Stewart and have that corner be the catalyst as the neighborhood is built inward. The vision for the development is that it will connect to the surrounding community, have unique amenities, and high quality public spaces. Some of the principles for the site include that it will have flexibility to adapt over time, will incorporate sustainable values, and will encourage healthy living.

“We want this to be a walkable, creative, unique place. Something that’s not like what you have here,” said Jamie Greene, principal for planning NEXT, which is the firm contracted to lead the master plan.

The site will have some retail, but planners said it won’t be a major retail destination like The Greene.

Planners said the future development will respect the site’s history and the Roundhouse will be preserved on site.

The planning process and community feedback are so onMain planners can a vision to guide what kind of development they pursue for the site.

“It’s been a fascinating process,” said Marge Mott, who added she and her husband have a deep UD connection and have been to all of the planning meetings because they are interested in what will happen to the site.

For construction of new buildings to start, however, there will have to be developers that are interested in building the types of projects outlined in the plan.

This is a long-term project and it will likely take several years before any new construction starts on the property.

Planning NEXT is working on a more detailed design of the site and at the Thursday meeting, there were display boards that showed examples of how public spaces in the neighborhood could potentially be designed. Meeting attendees wrote down feedback on the test concepts and planners were there to hear thoughts on the ideas.

The property management doesn’t plan to have one master developer, but rather anticipate there will be many developers building different pieces.

Ken Botts, who was in attendance at the meeting, said it’s important to him that the site helps draw in new money and business from outside of the region to Dayton, and not canabalize from within the Dayton area.

“This gives Dayton a very marketable site,” Botts said.

About the Author