Local students get chance to pitch fairground redevelopment plans

Local engineering students will pitch designs that could be used in the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds redevelopment.

Six University of Dayton and eight Sinclair Community College students are working on a two-semester capstone project that uses the 38-acre site on South Main Street as a lab. This semester, the students spent several days a week collecting data at the property. In January, the student teams will begin drawings and plans for residential and commercial buildings, waste and stormwater management, traffic, landscaping, lighting and parking.

“What we believe our contribution would be is offering some ideas and visions and a perspective that is different than a consulting firm,” said Don Chase, the University of Dayton director of undergraduate studies for civil and environmental engineering and faculty adviser for the project.

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The students aren’t licensed yet, meaning the planning firm overseeing the redevelopment — planning NEXT — won’t be able to take the plans as is, Chase said, but he hopes some of the elements the students propose will be built into the ultimate plans.

“One of the things that’s proposed is residence halls. They are students and they’re connected right now with some of the needs students have with regards to housing,” Chase said.

The students are also environmentally aware and conscious, helping to add insight on an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable site, he added, fitting the standards the onMain partners have set.

Premier Health and the University of Dayton bought the former fairgrounds in April 2017, for $15 million. Each institution spent $5.25 million and Montgomery County and the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority contributed the rest.

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In early October, the partners announced plans to rename the site onMain: Dayton’s Imagination District. Plans for redevelopment, which could take 10 to 15 years to complete in phases, include retail space, housing and buildings for employment.

Other elements of the redevelopment include a walkable urban neighborhood, retail geared toward those who work and live onMain, environmentally sustainable buildings, urban agriculture and restoration of the property’s historic Roundhouse.

Second-year Sinclair civil engineering students Zachary Osterday and Christopher Hess said they understand the appeal of the environment onMain aims for — to be able to live, work and play all in one urban community. The lifestyle has become popular among Millennials and Baby Boomers who want everything within walking distance.

“Restaurants, movie, theaters, stores, retail, all in the same area, kind of like The Greene is what I’m thinking,” Hess said.

The partnership between Sinclair and University of Dayton students also will teach the students how to communicate with surveyors, architects, civil engineers and construction managers as each group of students works on a different aspect of the project.

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“Design scenarios such as this produce high-quality learning experiences that no classroom lecture could ever produce,” said Eric Dunn, chair of Sinclair’s engineering technology department. “This project will give students a taste of how to follow and maintain a client’s architectural and overall site vision while also conforming to federal, state and local design standards.”

Premier and UD are searching for redevelopment funding sources, which could take at least one to two years before any new construction could occur, according to a statement.

“This was real world experience … Obviously the professor supervised, but we were kind of left to our own devices. So we had to come up with our own system for collecting data, and it was really cool because that’s what you’d actually be doing out in the real world.”


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