In 2006, The Greene was a much-anticipated addition for shoppers in the region. An article in this newspaper, said the grand opening at Interstate 675 and Indian Ripple Road was filled with “children squealing in the town center water fountain, shoppers describing on cell phones what it’s like, and waves of street music mixed with bursts of laughter from patrons dining alfresco.”
A handful of protesters picketed the opening. They were upset about the impact the shopping center would have on the local community and small businesses.
“People just want to be listened to,” said Steve Willshaw, general manager. “They want to be heard.”
Ten years later, the district is still filled with music echoing in the streets while patrons bustle in and out of restaurants during the lunch hour. Owned by Olshan Properties, The Greene started out with about 35 businesses.
Willshaw said the criticism over the center quickly subsided, and his boss even invited the protesters to Brio for lunch to discuss their concerns.
“I bet they’re some of our best customers now,” said Kelli Kooken, marketing director.
The 72-acre, 1.1 million-square-foot destination continues to add retailers and restaurants. More than 100 businesses call the district home, and tenants continue to lease what’s left of increasingly limited space. Most recently, businesses like World of Beer, Ulta and J.Crew Mercantile have announced new location openings at The Greene.
Construction on the 10,000-plus-square-foot World of Beer building is set to be finished this year.
“In 10 years time, we have seen tenants come and go, as well as witnessed growth,” Kooken said.
Ann Upthegrove-Vore, president and CEO of the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce, said the success of the family-oriented destination has led to continued economic and job growth.
“The Greene attracts visitors not only from throughout Greene County, but it draws visitors from outside of our community to experience the shops and restaurants that are unique to The Greene,” she said.
Kooken and Willshaw sat down with the Dayton Daily News to reflect on changes and growth over the past decade. Both have worked as a team since the start of the town center and have become like family, they said.
“Having been here since the inception, I feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and ownership,” Kooken said.
Kooken envisions and executes the advertising, marketing and event planning for The Greene, while Willshaw manages the mixed-use property. They’ve planned countless concerts, hosted celebrities like Rachael Ray and Kevin Bacon, and coined traditions like the annual Christmas tree lighting.
The Greene is about more than just shopping or dining, Kooken said. It’s about a diverse experience for the patron. They’ve been innovating from the start, with free events like QR code scavenger hunts and flash mobs before they were even popular, she said. Uniqueness is at the center of their brand.
“That’s us in a nutshell,” Willshaw said. “That’s what were about.”
From fast-casual restaurants to upscale dining experiences, The Greene offers something for a range of demographics to enjoy. Willshaw said the restaurants have “built-in” clients with high occupancy of both residential and office spaces at The Greene.
Even in economic downturns, the leadership team said the center remained profitable.
“Even when it looked like The Greene might’ve been stagnant, we always had something in the works,” she said. “Some new business was coming or someone was in the works of signing a lease.”
Moving forward, the property will consider adding more office and parking space.
The Greene has a 10-year plan moving forward, but it is an “ever-evolving” process, according to the managers. Limited space, competitors like online shopping and other local malls, and customer trends all impact how The Greene will evolve.
For its 10th anniversary, The Greene will pack the month of August with events and special promotions. Events include back-to-school tax-free shopping, a fashion show, family movie night and an anniversary block party. The schedule also will include normal weekly events like live music and family nights.
Kooken said The Greene has thrived because of the emphasis on “constant growth and refreshment.” The duo said their work as a team has helped define the success of the retail and entertainment destination.
“This is where people want to go,” she said. “It really still is the place to be.”