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What’s next for Austin Landing? Developer envisions expansion

A developer met with community and business leaders Friday to answer one question: What’s next for Austin Landing?

It’s a question a lot of the public has been wondering about too.

Larry Dillin, president of VisCap Development, spoke at a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce meeting about what he envisions for growth at Austin Landing Phase II. Viscap took over the Austin Landing development from RG Properties and is currently working with Springboro and local entities on next steps for the project.

Austin Landing has been developed on the northeast and northwest corners of the interchange created at Austin Boulevard. Austin Landing South would be developed on about 60 acres on the southeast corner.

While nothing is finalized for what’s next, Dillin told the Dayton Daily News that he envisions a mixed-use development that can readily adapt to the changing retail industry.

» RELATED: Springboro leaders drove 2.5 hours to meet with Austin South developer

“We’re at the unfortunate stage where lots of planning has occurred, but it isn’t really finalized,” he said. “Typically, we wouldn’t make an announcement and we’re not making an announcement yet. We’re sharing ideas that are representative of what I have in mind for a vision.”

Dillin said his company is close to making an official announcement, and it will take place in Springboro with city council members. In June, the 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.

Traffic work has also started in anticipation of the possible development, as contractors construct a “free-flow, right turn lane from Austin Boulevard east of the Interstate 75 interchange onto southbound Ohio 741.

» RELATED: Roads, financing for Austin Landing spreading south into Springboro

“We’re in that due diligence process. These types of projects take a very long planning cycle to get it right,” Dillin said. “I think getting it right is a function of knowing what’s right for the marketplace and for us as investors, but also what’s right for the community. It’s a matter of evaluating risk and coming up with financial structures both privately and publicly. We’re in that process and we’re very pleased with the quality and the course of the dialogue.”

On Friday, Dillin met with Dayton officials and explored what the expansion could look like — similar to The Town Center at Levis Commons, the company’s mixed-use development in Perrysburg, Ohio. Levis officially opened in 2004 as a 400-acre mixed-use development off of Ohio 25.

The development’s tenants include Bar Louie, Bob Evans, Cinemark Theatres, Ethan Allen, Funny Bone Comedy Club at Fat Fish Blue, Starbucks Coffee, OrangeTheory Fitness, a nail salon and several clothing and footware retailers. It also has residential living and corporate spaces.

“Every project should have its own identity,” Dillin said.

» RELATED: Court order dictates Austin Landing South development

VisCap’s development aim to “bring neighborhoods to life,” with public art, ascetically pleasing streetscapes, well-crafted signs for businesses and greenspace that can be shared by the community. People will flock toward a development that offers an experience — planned events, unique restaurants and entertainment for all demographics.

“Retail is going through a fairly monumental change and we’d like to see that sort out a little bit,” Dillin said. “That’s making us think differently about the physical space we construct, but the need to have retail is very important. We believe retail is certainly not going to die, the real estate storefront is not going anywhere — it’s only a matter of how we plan that interaction. For us, it’s more about defining merchandise concepts and then making certain we have retail partners that embrace that merchandising plan.”

» RELATED: Bookstore at Austin Landing closes

Dillin said he expects retailers to have a different role in the future — using physical spaces as “showrooms” that allow people to see products even if they want to order it from the comfort of their living room.

Phil Parker, president of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, told Dillin on Friday that he appreciated the mixed-use concept compared to some traditional malls or department stores models.

“Times have changed,” Parker said.

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