Traffic work and potential financing talks continue in anticipation of developing Austin Landing South, a commercial project expected to result in more than $60 million in private and public investment bringing new jobs and retail options.
Last week contractors continued work on a “free-flow” right turn lane from Austin Boulevard east of the Interstate 75 interchange onto southbound Ohio 741.
The new lane, allowing motorists to continue around the corner with out stopping, runs along the edge of the 60 acres that would be built up during future development around the interchange, which opened in 2010.
“We are also installing a median between the right turn lane and through lanes. We will widen the northbound approach to accommodate the follow-through lane for the east bound free-flow right turn. This widening will also accommodate a future dual north bound left turn lane,” Mandi Dillon, a public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation said in an email.
RELATED: $1.8 M to ease Austin gridlock
And Thursday night, Springboro City Council voted to work with the Warren County Port Authority on financing for Austin Landing South. The development is located in Montgomery County.
“This cooperative agreement in no way obligates the city to move forward with the project. This is merely for exploratory purposes at this stage of the project,” Springboro Assistant City Manager Chris Pozzuto said in a memorandum to the council.
The Warren County Port Authority is an independent agency formed by the Warren County commissioners, to assist with economic development.
It was unclear exactly how the authority would assist Austin Landing South.
“We’re exploring all options, doing our due diligence,” Pozzuto said before the meeting.
In other port authority deals, including with operators of the Miami Valley Gaming racino, the port authority reached lease deals, avoiding sales tax on building materials. The authority also provides debt financing used to pay for roads and other infrastructure.
“The Austin Landing project includes assistance financing the acquisition, construction, improvement and equipment of public infrastructure improvements and private commercial developments within the city,” according to the resolution approved by the council and making way for assistance from the port authority.
The agreement was needed because Austin Landing South is in Montgomery County, according to the resolution. The Warren County Port Authority was approached after the Montgomery County one declined, Pozzuto said.
There is another source of funding.
A private investment fund set up by Eubel Brady & Suttman, an investment firm with offices in one of the buildings along I-75 on the north side of Austin Boulevard in Miami Twp., was to raise $64 million for Austin Landing and Austin Landing South.
Larry Dillin, who heads VisCap Development, the company now in charge of finishing development of Austin Landing and of making Austin Landing South happen, expressed support for the port authority agreement.
“The city of Springboro has been a great partner in exploring financing options to facilitate development on land within their jurisdiction. We continue to investigate ideas together,” Dillin said in a statement.
VisCap and Springboro officials declined to comment on terms of negotiation or what to expect on the land.
The development would be within a special development district formed by Montgomery County, Miamisburg, Miami Twp. and Springboro to share in the costs and benefits of development around the interchange.
Special taxing districts are set up in the section in Miami Twp., which has provided assistance to the development of Austin Landing.
Springboro officials declined to respond to questions about Austin Landing South, citing exemptions in Ohio Sunshine Law for economic development projects.
Late last year, the city changed the zoning of 13 acres of the land within the area, controlled by a consent decree reached with the previous developer, R.G. Properties, to prevent construction of a WalMart on the land.
City officials have indicated a willingness to set aside the consent decree as part of negotiations with VisCap.
So far, development has occurred mainly on the northeast and northwest corners of the interchange created at Austin Boulevard.
Austin Landing South would be developed from the southeast corner.
Work lies ahead before the project gets off the drawing board.
But road work by Barrett Paving Materials on the turn lane lane from Austin Boulevard and continuing down Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro, is expected to completed by Aug. 25.
The construction project, expected to cost $895,000, is designed to ease gridlock around the interchange during peak periods. The traffic problems began shortly after the interchange and intersection opened in 2010, particularly for those heading south into Springboro.
Meanwhile, drivers will need to negotiate “intermittent lane closures and construction work,” according to the latest ODOT advisory. “All lanes will remain open.”
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