Housing growth on rise in Xenia; Honda plant could bring workers to region

$3.5 billion Fayette County project to the east presents opportunity for the city.

After about 20 years of the status quo, Xenia residential and commercial development is on the rise. The city is eyeing the $3.5 billion Honda plant being built less than a half hour drive from the city as an opportunity for residential development and growth.

Xenia is experiencing growth in new housing developments at the edges of the city. Sections of Summer Brooke South off of Highlander Drive, Edenbridge, on the corner of Van Eaton and Lower Bellbrook Roads, and Grandstone Trace, between the end of Hollywood Boulevard and Fairground Road, are all either under construction or in planning stages. The city also approved a new section of Wright Cycle Estates earlier this spring.

Since the early 2000s, Xenia “hasn’t seen a lot of activity” in terms of residential construction, City Manager Brent Merriman said, but the interest in the community and the rate of development has increased substantially in the past couple of years.

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“I feel we’re sort of at the beginning of a renaissance in Xenia,” Merriman said. “We haven’t seen the interest and the activity level, across the spectrum of economic fronts, the way we are right now in a very long time. It’s our turn.”

The $3.5 billion Honda/LG battery plant in Fayette County would supply electric car batteries to Honda plants across North America, creating 2,200 jobs — as well as housing, educational, and recreational needs for as many workers.

Members of Xenia City Council have previously said in public meetings that they would rather emphasize redevelopment and revitalization of current and historic Xenia neighborhoods. However, the demand for housing means the city is now doing both.

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“We really are taking an ‘all of the above’ approach,” Merriman said. “We can empirically demonstrate market demand not being met locally or in our immediate region for higher-end housing that just simply isn’t available.”

In addition to new residential developments, the city is currently developing a program to incentivize homeowners in historic neighborhoods to not just repair those homes, but to plant roots.

“In some cases, they’re beautiful historic homes that have fallen into disrepair,” Merriman said. “If it’s someone who wants to come in, do a minimal rehab and then rent the place out, that’s not helping. We want families to feel safe, and to reestablish themselves in these historic neighborhoods, and the key to that is having some ownership.”

The increase in housing development mirrors renewed interest in commercial development. Xenia Towne Square has long been a cornerstone of the city’s redevelopment efforts, and a $125 million project getting started there hopes to make Xenia’s downtown more of a destination for visitors across the region.

“Council has said from the get go, and the feedback we’ve gotten from the community is, we don’t want someone coming in and putting a couple of fast food restaurants and calling it a day. We want something high quality that matches the historic downtown but really adding value,” Merriman said.

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