Air Force missions take significant lease in Kettering business park

Missions to find a home at ‘Sixth River’ within Miami Valley Research Park

Elements of key Wright-Patterson Air Force Base missions — Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Life Cycle Management Center — have leased 152,000 square feet of office space at Miami Valley Research Park in Kettering.

Dean Miller of Industrial Commercial Properties, which owns the space at the development, expects a “multi-year” presence at the business park for Air Force personnel as remodeling of on-base offices continues. It is that remodeling that is inspiring the Air Force to look for work space beyond the base fence, he said.

If the lease arrangement proves useful for the Air Force, it’s the hope of Miller that leaders of fast-growing missions at Wright-Patterson will see leasing off-base in the Dayton area as a viable way to operate.

“We’re sort of doing proof of concept on the ability of the Air Force to contract and lease space off-base and actually place their personnel off the base,” Miller said. “If it’s viable for them, it sort of opens up some new avenues.”

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The initial lease is complete, and “It takes up about half of our park,” Miller said.

The missions will take up the entire 1900 Founders Drive building. ICP also owns four smaller buildings nearby along Research Boulevard, and Air Force work will take up about three-quarters of one of those buildings, as well.

The new lease comes at a time when segments of the Dayton office market face post-pandemic challenges as some businesses regroup into a hybrid work model — a model that involves using less office space, as some employees continue working remotely.

But by far, the best-performing office market segment in the Dayton area are offices near Wright-Patterson, Miller said. “We’re on the border line of being considered part of that market.”

Wright-Patterson, with more than 30,000 military and civilian employees, is Ohio’s largest concentration of employment in one location. The installation has grown steadily since 2005.

The goal for ICP is to create what will be seen as an “Air Force-oriented site,” Miller said.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “We’re hoping they (the Air Force) can act as an anchor for the park.”

Mark Schwieterman, Kettering city manager, said the city has worked with ICP for a long time on park development.

“We hope that the access to the base and the amount of the facilities that we have available at the Research Park will be a good match for the Air Force,” Schwieterman said.

It’s expected that the workforce there will consist of both civilian employees and active-duty Air Force employees. The city will be able to draw income tax from civilian workers, he said. Active-duty employees are not subject to local income tax.

“There will be revenue or tax dollars generated,” Schwieterman said. He was not immediately able to say how much revenue is expected.

A representative of AFMC was not able to arrange interviews for this story.

ICP has rebranded its group of buildings in the park as “Sixth River.”

ICP also has 28 acres under contract on its land approaching County Line Road that the city of Kettering has approved for residential, multi-family uses. Miller said ICP is working with a partner to develop about 300 multi-family units on that land.

The developer’s master plan shows its intention to diversify uses in the park area.

“It’s an eight-to-five environment,” Miller said. “It’s a workplace. Nobody lives there and nobody shops there.”

The buildings the Air Force will use are under renovation now. Miller said ICP is targeting mid-December for work to be complete.

He anticipates the Air Force will have a presence at Sixth River for a number of years, perhaps eight.

“What we’re really hoping for is as the concept is accepted and this is (seen as) a viable way of operating … we’re going to get people excited about how easy it is to live outside the fence,” he said.

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