UD, Premier give former fairgrounds new name, redevelopment could start in 3 to 4 years

UPDATE @ 10:03 a.m.

Work on the first building on the former fairgrounds property could begin within the next three to four years, said Jamie Greene, principal of planning NEXT, the firm tasked with developing a vision for the site.

The fairgrounds is expected to take around 10 to 15 years to be completely redeveloped, Greene said. The current project is slated to have three phases of construction.

PHOTOS: See new renderings of what ‘onMain: Dayton’s Imagination District’ will look like years down the road

The first building will not necessarily be “a UD building or Premier building,” University of Dayton president Eric Spina said. The building, which will be located at the corner of Stewart and Main streets, will include “several partners,” he said.

There were “hundreds of potential ideas” for renaming the fairgrounds  and officials ultimately went with an idea that they thought was “authentic” and provided a good sense of where the neighborhood would be geographically, Greene said.

“When we collaborate we do it really well and that’s what we want this project to be about,” said Boosalis.

UPDATE @ 9:22 a.m.

Premier Health and the University of Dayton are renaming the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds ahead of planned redevelopment of the site.

The 38 acres will be renamed onMain: Dayton’s Imagination District, according to a joint statement from Premier and UD. The district’s new name is supposed to embody “a vision for the site as a place where Dayton’s history of innovation takes off into the future,” the release states.

The name emerged from conversations among focus groups of people who tried to brainstorm names for the neighborhood that would express the community’s aspirations for it, Premier CEO Mary Boosalis said in a prepared statement.

“The name marks the district’s location on Main Street, and is an invitation to live onMain, work onMain, learn onMain and meet onMain,” Boosalis said in a prepared statement.

UD president Eric Spina said the name “represents the best of Dayton’s future” and its innovative history, according to the press release.


Premier Health and the University of Dayton will provide an update today on the redevelopment of the 38-acre site at Main and Stewart streets, the former Montgomery County fairgrounds.

Planning NEXT, the master planning contracted to the project, in January unveiled the early vision for the fairgrounds, which calls for the first phase of development to have about 245 unites of housing, 225,000 square feet of office, 60,000 square feet of retail and four acres of urban agriculture.

This media outlet will be at the planning session by Premier and UD this morning where the plans will be outlined.

As the site is built out, Planning NEXT says the development should have flexible spaces that can transform as the neighborhood expands inward from Main Street. For example, surface parking can be later replaced with multi-story parking structures as the neighborhood becomes more dense.

Project officials with UD and Premier have repeatedly emphasized that the vision for what could happen is still being formed.

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They want to get other parties involved like private developers and future tenants, and while Premier and UD plan to have money involved, they are going to seek other ways of financing the development.

MORE: Early vision for former fairgrounds released

When coming up with the vision for the site, project officials held focus groups and took comments online to collect a broad database of suggestions that were each reviewed — including one comment that just said “Detroit” and a flood of football enthusiasts suggesting a new UD football field (Which Andy Horner, chief financial officer at University of Dayton, said is not something that will happen).

Some of the feedback that became key pieces of the master plan included housing intended for a mix of incomes, space for urban agriculture, and a walkable design to give a neighborhood feel.

The Montgomery County fairgrounds redevelopment is being planned at the same time that a different high-profile development project is coming together less than two miles down the road to revive the Dayton Arcade.

MORE: Arcade is definitely happening, developer says: ‘We’re way too pregnant’

While UD is partnering with Premier on redeveloping the fairgrounds, the university has also pledged to be a key anchor tenant at the Arcade.

Horner said previously that he sees the two projects as complementary developments, not competing projects.

“We wouldn’t be involved in both projects if we thought they weren’t going to be complementary,” Horner said. “There are limited resources to go around, but we think there’s going to be enough for both to be exceptionally successful and bring additional investment into the Miami Valley.”

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