Huge smokestacks overlooking river in Miamisburg to be demolished

Former Hutchings Station power plant site along the Great Miami River is targeted for redevelopment; smokestacks come down June 14

MIAMISBURG — A familiar sight looming large on the Montgomery County horizon will soon be just a memory.

The three, 250-foot-high smokestacks at the now-closed, 1940s-era Hutchings Station power plant are slated to be torn down Friday, Miamisburg officials said.

The former power plant sits at 9338 Chautauqua Road, on the west bank of the Great Miami River, about two-and-a-half miles south of downtown Miamisburg. Redevelopment plans are ongoing.

The toppling of the towering smokestacks will mean the closure of Chautauqua Road between Dayton-Cincinnati Pike and Farmington Road between 7 and 8:30 a.m. that day, officials said. A portion of that road closure is in Miami Twp. as well.

The former Dayton Power & Light — now AES Ohio — opened the Hutchings Station facility in 1948 and deactivated it in 2015.

In January 2021, Frontier Industrial purchased more than 200 acres at the site for just over $866,000. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based company previously said the best reuse for the site would be a recreation complex and residential development, mentioning the possibility of indoor and outdoor athletic fields, along with some “accessory commercial uses.”

Frontier said it is not knocking down the entire power plant, just its smokestacks.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close the road immediately next to the property until the demo is complete,” the city of Miamisburg said. “We don’t anticipate any issues, but keeping the public out of the immediate vicinity during that time was requested by the developer and the city is working with them to ensure a safety zone around the property.”

Those with questions about the road closure may call the city of Miamisburg at 937-866-3303.

Frontier describes itself as a “world-class, comprehensive, industrial contractor” and brownfield developer offering a wide range of demolition and redevelopment services.

Pat Ford, Frontier’s director of external affairs and business development, said the company’s intent from the outset was to preserve the Miamisburg power plant “because of the architectural character and the condition of the building, which included the smokestacks,” Ford said.

But the company also realized that keeping the smokestacks around while dismantling the facility’s coal bunkers and boilers would put at risk the safety of its employees and a nearby AES substation, he said.

“If something were to go wrong, and one of the boilers or the coal bunkers fell into the stacks, the stacks would fall into the building, and the top of those stacks could damage the substation ... and we all know how many houses and businesses that substation serves,” Ford said.

Making the matter even more challenging is the fact that some of those pieces of equipment in the facility are hanging and built from the top down, not from the ground up, “so it is surgical work, complex, and quite frankly, dangerous work,” he said.

By dropping the stacks intentionally on its own, the company keeps “complete control” over how and where they fall, Ford said.

Although tearing down the smokestacks changes the master plan of the site, it does not change the “transformative nature” and economic impact that it has in an end use for not only the community, but for the region as a whole, Ford said.

“Montgomery County is one of the top five counties in Ohio with the most manufacturing companies and probably pushing close to 700 companies now based on our estimates,” he said. “And also (there’s) the residential development in that area. Right now I think they’re pushing 400 housing permits.”

By the time Frontier is finished with its work on the former power plant and ready to attract development, it probably will have invested at least $25 million of its own capital, Ford said, a “comfortable space” for the company because it is self-capitalized.

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