Centerville entertainment district push outlines $50M in investments

CENTERVILLE — The city seeks to qualify an application to the state for a 113-acre entertainment district under a requirement that calls for at least $50 million being invested in the area.

The application by local businessman Patrick Beckel shows “Centerville estimates public and private investment will exceed $30 million,” including about $10 million for the city’s Uptown project.

Total investment estimates top $50.4 million, including recent past and future infrastructure upgrades in the area, Centerville records state.



The proposed entertainment district — expected to be addressed by city council tonight — spans about six blocks on Ohio 48, or Main Street, and about five blocks on Franklin Street, records show.

The designation would aid city business development strategies that call for “higher end bar with music, brewpub… (and) unique restaurants” by allowing for more liquor permits, the application states.

Included infrastructure work “is millions of dollars worth of meaningful investment to keep that a functioning area,” Centerville Development Director Michael Norton-Smith said. “And so we definitely wanted to capitalize on that as part of the application.”

Norton-Smith said the city is assisting with the application. After talking with state officials, the entertainment district is being sought under one of a series of Ohio Department of Commerce population guidelines, he added.

That option requires that the municipality have at least 20,000 residents and either an amusement park or that $50 million “or more will be invested in development and construction in” the district, state records show.

The $50 million investment mark will include work on roads, water and sewer lines, and a fiber optics network that runs through the area, Centerville officials said.

“We wanted to capture that because it is meaningful investment,” Norton-Smith said. “But we think the bulk of the $50 million will come as a result of the enhancements going forward.”

The infrastructure work involved dates back to 2015 and projected private investment in the Uptown plan totals $22.6 million, Centerville records show.

“We are in some ways already outperforming our estimates because we’ve seen private investors make investments in buildings and purchase things that really hadn’t been on our radar,” Norton-Smith said.”

One example, he said, is Salar Restaurant and Lounge co-owner and executive chef Margot Blondet’s recent announcement to expand from Dayton’s Oregon District and open a second location on West Franklin in Centerville.

“Knowing that she wants to create a top-notch restaurant that’s going to be a regional draw is huge,” Norton-Smith said. “But again, it wasn’t in the plans necessarily when we sat down and sketched out what the private investment would look like.”

City Manager Wayne Davis called it “the synergies that arrive when you get public/private investment.”

An entertainment district designation would allow more liquor permits in the Uptown area to help attract people to the nearly 100 businesses in and around the center of the city, officials have said.

Fewer than five Uptown businesses have liquor permits, Norton-Smith has said. Approval for that designation could significantly expand that number, with as many as 15 new ones, state records show.

The proposed area includes 150 addresses, and aligns with Centerville’s Architectural Preservation District and Uptown plans, according to city documents. The Uptown plan is a multi-year, phased project to improve access, parking, business, greenspace and entertainment in the historic center of town.

Beckel, who owns Beckel’s Humidor and The Aficionado on West Franklin, said he applied for the entertainment district to enhance that effort.

“After reviewing the proposals of what is to come for the uptown district I think this only makes sense and is the next logical step,” Beckel’s application letter states.

“The district will help us to bring people back out into our shops and streets,” he added. “It will put us back on the path of being able to gather for community and recreation in the most recognizable part of the city. Let’s get this through so we can be the fun and vibrant community we all want to live and work in.”

Centerville City Council is expected tonight to accept the application and set a public hearing on the issue, city Communications Director Kate Bostdorff said.

Within the following 30 days, council must twice advertise the application before the hearing, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.

If council approves the application, the state would make a decision on approving the additional liquor permits for the district, state records show.


The following is the estimated investment Centerville has calculated as part of an application for an entertainment district.

•Past infrastructure $16.4M

•Uptown public work $10.46M

•Uptown private work $22.6M

TOTAL $54.47M

Source: City of Centerville.

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