Housing could spark mall area jobs, retail growth

Master plan area already employs more than 8,000 workers.

The admittedly rosy study shows potential for 1,200 multifamily residential units, more than 350 new jobs and thousands of square feet of new retail and office space.

“The residential market is what we are confident that we can get, and that will then drive the retail,” master plan Project Manager Steve Kearney of Stantec’s Urban Places Group said.

The market assessment is part of the mall area’s master plan, which is expected to be completed late this year. Stantec was hired last fall to develop a plan to keep the area around the 45-year-old mall a vibrant district through both short- and long-term projects.

Surrounded by Miamisburg, Washington Twp. and West Carrollton, the Miami Twp. complex accounts for more than $200 million in annual sales, and the 2.2-square-mile master plan area employs more than 8,000 workers.

The new study says sufficient demand exists in the business-dominated district to support 1,200 multifamily residential units. The overwhelming majority would be rental properties projected to be occupied by current Montgomery County residents, documents show.

The assessment also demonstrates the potential for 80,000 square feet of retail space to be built and 30,000 square feet of new office space, both of which could combine to bring more than 350 jobs, officials said.

The investment figures are “optimistic,” a marketing analyst and a consultant developing the Dayton Mall area master plan agree. Both say those numbers are contingent upon trends in the economy, which is “slowing down,” according to University of Dayton associate marketing professor Serdar Durmusoglu.

The analyst who compiled the assessment “says it’s hard to judge markets past a five-year time frame,’” Kearney said.

“Because there could be a recession — something dramatic could happen,” Kearney added.

He noted the Great Recession in saying, “If you looked at any estimate from 2004, they would not have come true.”

But both he and Durmusoglu note that business expansion is fueled by population growth. And new housing accounts for a large chunk — more than $182 million — of that potential investment, Kearney said.

The assessment is based in part on a residential market potential analysis that uses target market methodology, documents show.

This approach is “particularly effective in defining realistic housing potential for urban neighborhoods because it encompasses not only basic demographic characteristics – such as income qualification and age – but also less-frequently analyzed attributes such as mobility rates, life stage, lifestyle patterns and household compatibility issues,” according to the analysis by Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc.

While 1,200 multifamily residential units would account for most of the estimated $205 million in investment, the retail assessment projects $16.2 million in development, while office space would account for $6 million, Kearney said.

General estimates indicate the projected 110,000 square feet of combined retail and office space would a translate into more than 350 jobs, Kearney said. But a higher priority would be attracting people to live in the area, according to Durmusoglu.

“The growth in retail space can somewhat be justified if those residential units are built first and get filled,” he stated in an email.

Which is what the mall area master plan calls for a this point, Kearney said. The assessment calls for most of the multifamily housing to be rental units geared toward younger professionals, in part because “the greater willingness of renters to populate emerging neighborhoods,” according to the assessment.

The mall area’s current development is at least 90 percent business-based, said Miami Twp. Community Development Director Chris Snyder.

A draft of the master plan calls for residential units to be in the same buildings with retail establishments, with the businesses occupying the ground floor, Kearney said.

“So that (business) ratio will change if you implemented the plan and we’re able to attract that,” Snyder said.

The multifamily units would average 946 square feet and cost more than $1,000 a month, documents show.

“We crunch the numbers the same way that (developers) would crunch the numbers,” Kearney said, “to make sure this development would result in eight percent return on investment from the developer’s side.”