U-Haul project a win for Dayton Mall redevelopment plan

U-Haul has purchased the shopping center that formerly housed Dick’s Sporting Goods and h.h. gregg on Springboro Pike (Ohio 741) and intends to redevelop the site that recently was identified as a pivotal piece of a larger Dayton Mall-area improvement plan.

U-Haul paid $3.4 million for the nine-acre property and 87,000-square-foot building in a transaction that closed on Thursday.

It wasted no time moving in, opening a small-scale truck-and-trailer rental office that is open seven days a week offering rentals of trucks, trailers, vans and dollies.

“We have a long and proud history of taking unused commercial and industrial properties and turning them into productive businesses which generate tax revenue, provide jobs, and help to promote in-fill development to meet community members’ needs while preserving the natural resources and land normally required for new construction,” Parul Butala, planning and zoning manager for U-Haul’s parent company, told Miamisburg city officials in a proposed site plan for the property.

Plans call for U-Haul to create climate-controlled self-storage units inside a portion of the building, which also will house a retail showroom and office for the truck- and trailer-rental facility, Drew Case, marketing president of U-Haul Company of Southwest Ohio, said Tuesday.

A handful of free-standing storage units will be built separate from the main building, and those units will not be temperature-controlled, Case said. The store also will offer “U-Box” moving and self-storage containers that can be shipped nationwide or overseas, he said.

The renovation of the building and construction of the free-standing storage units will take about a year to complete, Case said. No estimate was available for the total cost of the project, but Case said it would represent a “substantial investment.”

The new U-Haul center will employ 10 to 15, he said.

Chris Fine, economic development director for the city of Miamisburg, said the project “represents an opportunity to fill a rather large building with a strong company that will be a good steward of the site.”

The shopping center lost both of its long-time tenants to the Dayton Mall: Dick’s Sporting Goods moved out in November 2012, and h.h. gregg followed six months later in mid-2013.

Halloween Express, a Halloween-themed costume retailer, currently occupies a portion of the building that previously housed h.h. gregg. It wasn’t immediately clear when the costume store would shut down or move; its voicemail greeting on Tuesday indicated it was closed for a family-related reasons but is scheduled to reopen Wednesday.

The shopping center is part of one of four areas considered “catalytic sites” for re-development — pivotal in a broader redevelopment and improvement plan being created for the area surrounding the Dayton Mall. The tracts east and west of Ohio 741 that include the shopping center were added to a list of sites targeted for redevelopment last month after public input.

Steve Kearney, project manager who is overseeing the broader Dayton Mall plan for Stantec’s Urban Places Group, said Tuesday that if U-Haul redevelops and revitalizes the nine-acre property, planners will focus on the rest of the tracts in its Ohio 741 target sites, nearly all of which are on the west side of the road, across the street from the U-Haul project.

The redevelopment scenarios that will become part of the Dayton Mall area’s master plan must have the support of the property owners, so if the former Dick’s Sporting Goods/h.h. gregg retail center has already been renovated and redeveloped by U-Haul, planners will omit the tract from its plans, Kearney said.

U-Haul has undertaken a project similar to that planned in Miamisburg in Huber Heights. In August 2014, U-Haul purchased a former Big Lots store at 6550 Brandt Pike and opened a rental office and is constructing self-storage units in that former big-box store.

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