The city’s plans for the former Roberds site - “prominent” land West Carrollton is buying to further its goal for a multi-million riverfront entertainment district – are not clear just yet.
“Certainly, one of the visions is to try and create an arena in the Dayton metro marketplace,” West Carrollton Economic Development Director Michael Lucking said. “And that’s certainly first and foremost.
“But I don’t think we’re going to limit ourselves to that,” he added.
The 13.75 acres it plans to buy on East Dixie Drive at the southwest quadrant of Interstate 75’s Exit 47 – where Lucking said 90,000 vehicles cross daily - is an “integral part” of the city’s Miami Bend Community Entertainment District, Mayor Jeff Sanner said.
In 2012, a 600-acre, $110 million entertainment district was proposed in West Carrollton. Two years later, the city received state approval for a Community Entertainment District for the area along East Dixie, and a market study evaluating the impact of what is now projected to be a 5,200-seat event center was completed.
City council last week voted 6-1 last week on a $3.2 million financial package to buy the land near the Great Miami River from Carrollton Properties LLC, demolish structures and clear the site.
“We’re getting a very prominent piece of real estate,” Lucking said. “This is the gateway to the community. It’s an important piece of property for us going forward.”
The city’s intent to acquire the land blindsided Richard Beatty, who said he owns a third of Carrollton Properties.
“I’m not saying that I’m not interested in selling the property,” Beatty told city council last week. “But I would like to have time to review the documents.”
The city would pay $1.8 million for nearly 11 acres, get another 2-plus acre tract donated, and pay about $1 million to get the land “shovel ready,” records show.
Meanwhile, city officials stressed they would work with the handful of remaining tenants to see if they could relocate in West Carrollton. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles License Agency & Title Office is among them.
Deputy Registrar Brian Manley said he welcomes the city’s help.
“I’m concerned as the longevity of that space, how quickly the city may act to evict the tenants,” BMV Deputy Registrar Brian Manley told council.
“We would just like to get some more information as to what we might be able to expect as far as getting notice to find alternative” sites, he said.
The purchase would give the city several properties in the entertainment district – including some on the river – that total more than 20 acres, Lucking said.
But Councilman Patrick Merris voted against the plan. He questioned the wisdom of acquiring land that has been largely unoccupied for years after, county records show, Carrollton Properties bought the two parcels for $1.2 million in 2003.
That was three years after furniture and appliance retailer Roberds Inc., a fixture in West Carrollton for years, decided to close all of its 15 stores and two distribution centers in Ohio, Georgia and Indiana.
The condition of the buildings, parking lots and landscaping have been a deterrents to developers, Lucking said. He noted the city’s purchase would be important in other ways.
“Acquisition of this property really provides West Carrollton with the ability to drive the redevelopment process,” he said. “And I think what it does to the development community is that it demonstrates that the city’s got some skin in the game - that we have equity and we want to see this developed.
“We’ve put our money and our efforts into it and it would be a good potential partnership for a developer,” Lucking added. “The timing is about right and the negotiating price is about right.”
Sanner said identifying a developer for the site will be key for the city’s plans.
“This particular piece of land – when it’s made shovel ready and development starts there – it’s going to spur everything else along the river,” he said.