“That was one of the fundamental goals when we started this process, and one of the things that the community really wanted,” he said.
The city has not done a formal economic impact analysis, but city officials say that the project has huge potential in terms of attracting new business, making Xenia a more attractive place for residents, and uplifting the surrounding community.
“You can come up with some impressive figures, but there’s also a less quantifiable element: taking a large swath of the community that was devastated in the (1974) tornado, not built back the right way, taking this shopping center that’s aging and has suffered high vacancy for a while and turning it into a destination,” Forschner said. “It’s the heart of our community.”
The 15.5-acre parcel contains the shopping center and the site of a former K-mart that was torn down. Much of the storefront space in the existing buildings is vacant. Initially, the city will focus on renovating and fixing up some of the existing buildings, while others, particularly on the north side, may eventually be torn down. The city has been in dialogue with existing tenants about how to include them in the new development, should they choose to be a part of it.
“It’s an exciting project, and I think we can really make a difference and make something Xenians can be proud of,” Forschner added.
A construction start date has not been set, but activity at the site could begin by the end of the year. The city has hired Springboro-based developer Dillin Corp as a consultant for the plan, with a full development team to be assembled after the plan is approved.