Former Xenia senior center could give boost to small businesses

The city of Xenia plans to lease the recently vacated senior center on East Church Street to accommodate a new small-business incubator.

City council last month approved the rezoning of the city-owned property at 130 E. Church St. — where the Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Center has existed since 1981 — from residential to a public and institutional district.

Xenia officials are looking to lease the building to the Central State University Extension office and Manifold Development and open a small business incubator. Manifold Development is a new nonprofit organization that works with other nonprofits and is focused on helping organizations grow, according to City Planner Brian Forschner.

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Forschner said the incubator would provide “a space and program designed to help existing and aspiring entrepreneurs translate their dreams and ideas into successful, sustainable businesses or growth of existing businesses.”

“The incubator would implement part of the city’s community-driven comprehensive plan known as X-Plan, which recommended an incubator in Xenia as a means to nurture local entrepreneurship,” Forschner said. “The incubator has the potential to become an economic generator, churning out successful, unique, home-grown businesses that will occupy buildings and employ workers in Xenia.”

The entire property is approximately 1.84 acres and includes a public parking lot on the western portion. According to a city staff report, the business incubator would be a mix of office-like operations, training seminars, meetings and one-on-one mentoring. The facility features a full kitchen, which could be used by restaurants or catering services to try out new menus and invite the public.

The senior center moved last week to its new space at the REACH Center. Because of construction delays at the new site, 338 S. Progress Drive, classes at the senior center were cancelled last week and are scheduled to resume Monday.

There are more than 700 members at the Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Center, which also delivers about 30,000 meals a year to senior citizens across the county, according to Judy Baker, the center’s director.

Baker said they aren’t quite up and running at the new site, but they are looking forward to having activities at the REACH Center.

“It is going to be wonderful. Our new facility is about 4,500 square feet more space. There is new equipment and a new kitchen,” she said.

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The former senior center is located directly across from Xenia’s YMCA, which has also moved into the REACH Center.

The city plans to lease or sell the former YMCA building and “some entities have expressed interest … although it is premature to comment” on what might become of the building, Forschner said.

“The city hopes to find a user who can restore a productive use to the property that complements the proposed incubator activity across the street, adjacent residential neighborhoods, Greene County’s plans for its nearby facilities, and efforts to revitalize the adjacent historic former Carnegie Library,” he said.


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