City investing in developing I-675 corridor

The city of Fairborn is investing in developing the Interstate 675 corridor near the first exits south of I-70 — Ohio 444 (Broad Street) and Ohio 235 (Xenia Drive).

The city hired GPD Group for almost $50,000 to study the corridor for potential economic development.

Based in Columbus, GPD Group will address land use, traffic control measures, regional storm water management and environmental issues for three areas around I-675 that are being considered by the city as Tax Increment Financing districts. The contract is for $46,996.40.

The four-month studywill be paid for out of the County-Municipal Vehicle License Tax account.

“In engineering, you always look for jewels that the city possesses that will attract people to live, work, recreate and build jobs here,” City Engineer Jim Sawyer said. “Certainly this corridor — these two exits — fit in that category as an unpolished gemstone. We’re trying to do the polishing now and make it attractive for developers to come in.”

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The areas that are being considered as TIF districts are west of I-675 — areas A (224.9 acres) and B (334.5 acres) — between Broad and Xenia and area C, which is east of I-675 with the majority of the 306.5 acres south of Xenia. The contract with GPD includes an impact study on areas A and B, and the northwest section of area C.

Sawyer expects the TIF proposal to go before council in the next several months.

“The TIFs are for the anticipated development in that area,” Sawyer said. “It’s a proactive approach to provide funding for developing the infrastructure up front to attract developers.”

City officials said with Calamityville’s presence in Fairborn, they envision an industrial-type parkway near I-675, with product research and development, hotels, offices, restaurants and an education component.

Sawyer said the city is in discussions with two developers to potentially build hotels on both sides of Xenia.

“There’s a lot of land out there that is yet to be developed,” said Chris Wimsatt, the city’s community development director. “Clearly development travels along the highways, and strategically, that is very important for us long term. The wise thing to do is do this pre-development work so we’re ready for development for when development comes.”

Mo Darwish, a principal with GPD Group, said that in the early stages of the study, environmental issues and traffic counts will be examined.

“We’ll work with the city and the stakeholders — what are they looking for? What is it that the city would like to see?” Darwish said. “It’s not completely up to us.”

Sawyer said his engineering staff doesn’t have the time to do an analysis of the I-675 corridor with all of the other projects the department is working on.

“Two heads are better than one in this case,” he said. “We’ll use their expertise to advise us in the best way to develop this corridor because $47,000 is a small price to pay for millions of dollars of investment to come.”

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