Homefull: $50M jobs, housing, food West Dayton project is not ‘mission creeping’

A $50 million investment into a former school property in West Dayton is going to bring new jobs, healthy food options and housing to an area that is in dire need of all of those things, local leaders said during an official groundbreaking for the project on Thursday.

“For those who are saying there’s nothing happening in West Dayton, I really have to ask you ... Where are you looking at or what hole (are) you buried in?” said Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr.

Construction has started on the first phase of Homefull’s project, which will begin to transform a 16-acre vacant site that was once home to Carlson Elementary School, located on the 800 block of South Gettysburg Avenue.

The first phase is a 48,000-square-foot building called Homefull Grocery & Marketplace that will feature a new market, a wholesale food hub, a Ziks Family Pharmacy and a Kettering Health primary care practice.

Homefull says this facility, which should be completed in about 18 months, will help address food insecurity in a section of Dayton that is a food desert.

Homefull’s new facility, located just north of its Family Living Center permanent supportive housing, will provide essential services for many local residents, including food, health care and job support, said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge.

“That’s what we want for the people of Montgomery County — to not just survive but thrive,” she said.

Dodge said more than 75,000 residents struggle with food insecurity across Montgomery County.

Montgomery County and the city of Dayton are contributing funding to the project.

The first phase will redevelop the front six acres of the property.

The first floor of the new facility will have 12,000 square feet of market space, offering fresh foods and vegetables, dairy products, meats, a deli and essential household goods.

The food hub will help large institutional buyers in the region purchase locally grown produce.

The Kettering Health primary care office will help residents who have been forgoing preventative care and medical treatment, plus those who have relied on emergency departments for their health care needs, said Tina Patterson, CEO of Homefull.

Ziks Family Pharmacy will be located next to the medical practice.

The second floor of the facility will be occupied by Homefull’s administrative offices and community-based services. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in summer of 2024.

A second phase of the project is expected to create as many as 144 housing units.

The plan is to create a walkable community campus, with walking paths, trees and amenities, possibly such as a daycare facility.

Homefull also plans to partner with Sinclair Community College’s agriculture department to create an experimental learning farm and agricultural educational space.

This project shows the true power of partnerships, said Tim Dutton, Homefull’s board chair.

The neighborhood is grateful for the significant investments the partners on this project are making, and hopefully this facility will be around for a long time to come, said Lisa Rucker, chair of the Pineview Neighborhood Association.

Homefull CEO Patterson said she does not think this project suggests the nonprofit is “mission creeping” — which happens when an organization expands its mission beyond its original goals.

She said Homefull — which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year — is doing the same kind of work and focusing on the same kind of goals as its founders did decades ago.

She said this project is about addressing community needs, filling gaps in services and “thinking outside the box.”

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