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ED/GE group recommends Oregon East parking garage get a funding haircut

A city rendering offering a look at  a development concept for the Dayton Motor Car Building, 15 McDonough St.,  in the “Oregon East” district.
A city rendering offering a look at  a development concept for the Dayton Motor Car Building, 15 McDonough St., in the “Oregon East” district.

Committee questions direction of mixed-use projects in Dayton and Centerville

Planned mixed-use developments in Dayton and Centerville were recommended to receive taxpayer dollars Friday, although at amounts lower than originally requested.

Some members of a committee weighing requests for Montgomery County development grants — called ED/GE (Economic Development/Government Equity) grants — expressed some misgivings about a request to assist a new parking garage anchoring a planned mixed-use development near the Oregon District in Dayton.

 

Members ultimately decided to recommend that county commissioners approve $125,000 for the garage in the fall 2019 funding round, with an additional $125,000 slated in the spring funding round.

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Dayton had originally requested $500,000 to advance the 350-vehicle garage.

Doug Berry, a committee member, hesitated because a specific new employer had not been identified to justify the garage.

“I love the project, but I don’t love it for ED/GE money,” said Berry, a Miami Twp. trustee, adding a few minutes later: “I don’t know what that development is going to look like.”

Ford Weber, Dayton development director, said the garage is needed to address increasingly tight parking in an increasingly busy section of the city, where buildings such as Dayton Motor Car and Bainbridge are being developed to draw new businesses.

The garage will ultimately serve multiple users working for or patronizing multiple businesses, he said.

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“It’s a complicated urban development project,” Weber said, adding later in the meeting: “The garage is really critical to creating the density to make that (the overall mixed-use development) work.”

Similarly, some committee members had questions about a $400,000 request from the city of Centerville to help with infrastructure serving another proposed mixed-use development, Centerville Place.

Centerville officials say they have a commitment from an unnamed company to put 200 jobs at the site, around a former Kroger store off South Main Street. But Michael Norton-Smith, economic development administrator for Centerville, said the potential is for 600 to 700 jobs total.

“This is a catalytic project for the city of Centerville,” Norton-Smith said.

The committee voted to recommend that commissioners fund $315,000 for Centerville Place.

Michael Colbert, county administrator, said committee members should weigh each request on a case-by-case basis. The focus should be on projects that create good jobs, he said.

“We’re giving away taxpayer dollars,” Colbert said. “We want a return for the community.”

Committee members had just over $1.88 million to work with in the fall ED/GE funding round.

Also recommended for funding Friday: $200,000 for Cornerstone Research Group’s expansion to Miami Twp. The defense contractor and materials researcher could create 250 high-paying jobs in the township, advocates say.

And Xerion Advanced Battery Corp.’s takeover of a former Delphi plant off Northwoods Boulevard in Vandalia was recommended to get $450,000.

Xerion has about 40 employees in the plant today. In two years, company founder John Busbee expects about 155 employees in Vandalia, with the workforce growing in phases to 600 to beyond 1,000 after that.

Citing non-disclosure agreements, Busbee said he is working with global companies in a number of industries. “We are having really good traction with these large companies,” he told the Dayton Daily News recently.

And Epix Tube in Dayton was recommended to receive $250,000 in a project that could create 60 new jobs.

County commissioners will vote on the recommendations Tuesday.