West Carrollton partners with developers for river district project

A development services agreement approved by West Carrollton City Council on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, paves the way for a river district along the Great Miami River off of East Central Avenue. The agreement outlines new development and riverfront housing next to a planned whitewater park.

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A development services agreement approved by West Carrollton City Council on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, paves the way for a river district along the Great Miami River off of East Central Avenue. The agreement outlines new development and riverfront housing next to a planned whitewater park.

WEST CARROLLTON — A river district along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton is a step closer to reality.

A development services agreement between the city, Dillin LLC and Woodard Development details multiphase, mixed-used development on property just west of the Exit 47 interchange on Interstate 75. That includes a hotel, medical office building, service retail, multiple restaurants (fast casual, premium white-tablecloth and drive-thrus) and a small watercraft marina, plus 26 high-end townhome condominiums and a 214-unit apartment project.

The city council on Tuesday evening approved the agreement for the site, which includes East Dixie Drive, Marina Drive, Bowman Land, North Alex Road and Central Avenue, plus an area along the riverfront and the former Roberds Carrollton Plaza.

Plans unveiled at Tuesday’s city council meeting show that hotel, retail and restaurants are envisioned for the southeast portion of the site with professional and medical office use to the west of it. Town homes are designated along the eastern part of the river front with a waterfront-oriented entertainment district and a marina located immediately west of it. A residential product could take place for the western-most part of the development, just south of a recrafted and enlarged boat launch area.

Larry Dillin of Dillin LLC said the plan that was presented to city council isn’t precisely how the project will be developed in the course of its estimated 7- to 10-year timespan for construction.

“It’s going to happen in multiple phases, but we believe that for your community, the kinds of uses that we’re talking about here are the right kind of uses to help change your community long-term, to enhance its economic diversity, to maximize its tax-revenue generation, maximize the value for the community from a public access standpoint” he said.

ExploreWest Carrollton project near river, I-75 to include hotel, office, restaurants, housing
Combined ShapeCaption
A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Combined ShapeCaption
A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Dillin said the planning for the area goes beyond the 25 acres acquired by the city.

“Why do we think about it that way?” he said. “Well, if we’re going to do something that’s a sustainable development that enhances the community environment, then we really need to look beyond the borders of the site.”

Dillin said the high-volume of traffic on I-75 and the high volume of commuter traffic on Dixie Highway are both “opportunities to harvest.”

“The visibility of the site directly adjacent to I-75 is an obvious opportunity,” he said . “It has high-visibility because the freeway is elevated a little above that site.”

Todd Duplain of Woodard Development said city officials being willing to purchase land for the project and being patient enough to go through the process of creating “a well-thought out vision” will pay “significant dividends” for the community and the region as a whole.

Combined ShapeCaption
A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. In the foreground is the vacant former Roberds Carrollton Plaza. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. In the foreground is the vacant former Roberds Carrollton Plaza. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Combined ShapeCaption
A river district is being proposed along the Great Miami River in West Carrollton off of East Central Avenue. The proposal includes new development, a whitewater park and riverfront housing. In the foreground is the vacant former Roberds Carrollton Plaza. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

“That uniqueness of you guys controlling the land is something that is not a process that Larry and I get into,” he said. “Usually, developers control the land. The beauty of this is that you control what happens here. This is your project (that) we’re going to execute for you.”

Woodard Development and Dillin Inc. will take the next 6 to 9 months to do a “deep-dive study” on the master plan, the market demand and the public finance package, he said.

Duplain said he and Dillin would be “very responsive to the market.”

“Our job isn’t to create demand, our job is to respond to demand and that’s what I believe this team will be very good at accomplishing,” he said.

Mike Lucking, the city’s economic development director, said that during the planning period, the city will work in conjunction with the developer to assess the current infrastructure and plan for public utilities and services as needed. During the first 24 months of the development services agreement period, the city will compensate the developer a total of $120,000 across four semi-annual installments.

Total investment in the project is estimated to be more than $84.8 million, $72 million of which is projected to be private investment, with the remainder coming from site infrastructure and prior land acquisition, Lucking said.

ExploreProposed whitewater park in West Carrollton expected to spark economic growth

Annual tax revenues expected to be generated once the project is fully built out are expected to come from real estate tax ($2.5 million), payroll tax ($319,000), income tax ($175,163), sales tax ($478,000) and taxes from a new community authority ($160,000), Lucking said.

“It has a lot of positive financial impact for this community,” he said.

Lucking said development of the river district and a whitewater park adjacent to it are at the very top of West Carrollton’s top 10 objectives for 2022.

Council member Angie Fryman said the city’s residents should be thanked for their input on the project. “The Comprehensive Plan they did 10 or 12 years ago told us what they wanted and that’s what we’ve been doing,” she said.

Mayor Jeff Sanner said the agreement was “definitely a step in the right direction” for West Carrollton.

“We received a lot of criticism for holding onto this property for so long, but we knew when the right development was here, we would do it,” Sanner said.

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