Austin Landing’s new owners take over a complex entering its second decade with changing priorities that, one industry observer says, may play a key role in its future regional reach.
The management team of the Columbia Investment Group that bought the 70-acre, mixed-use development in a $134.5 million deal last month sees a need to focus on tenants and to “stabilize the asset” that has been nearly built out in the past 10 years, but this year lost a major corporate employer.
The site has seen years of rapid development and is “moving to a different stage of maintain and enhance,” said Kendall Goodrich, chair and professor of the marketing department at Wright State University’s Soin College of Business.
And the new owners of the anchor of the Austin Boulevard interchange of Interstate 75 “seem to be very committed to the property,” he said.
Yet “there’s some level of uncertainty” because New York-based Columbia doesn’t have “local knowledge of the area” that former owners RG Properties and EBS Asset Management Inc., Goodrich said.
But new ownership has retained some staff from VisCap Development, the former Austin Landing manager, according to Columbia.
And, Goodrich said, “it’s more likely that they’re well-positioned” with the development to be a “geographic attraction to the Dayton and Cincinnati folks.”
The new ownership’s highest priorities for 2020 include “maintaining and continuing improving the quality of (Austin Landing), including satisfying the tenancy and servicing the community,” Soly Halabi, who heads that group, said in an email to the Dayton Daily News.
Austin Landing lists more than 60 tenants, including 15 business offices, and employs about 2,000 people, officials have said.
In the coming year, “we’d like to lease and stabilize the asset, including building out the outparcels,” he added.
The complex has some undeveloped parcels of “infill” at various sites, said Miami Twp. Community Development Director Chris Snyder.
Snyder said he has met with the new owners and “we’ve had good conversations about the future of the development.
“And they indicated very positively a desire to continue improving the development and continue a lot of the programs,” he added.
A new entity, Austin Landing Property Management, LLC, has been formed to manage the day-to-day operations, according to Joseph Simhon, co-owner/manager of Columbia Investment Group.
Simhon said the team consists of himself, Halabi, and “key members of the former management team.” That includes Jennifer Blair, a property management administrator from VisCap, who will maintain an office on site at Austin Landing, according to Columbia.
New ownership at the complex that opened in 2010 is a natural progression, said Miami Twp. Trustee John Morris, who is also CEO at the Ohio Valley Construction Education Foundation.
“I think people need to understand that all developments go through a state of maturation. And that – ultimately, in most cases – ends up in a change of ownership,” Morris said.
“You have a development group that loves to build and create something and then that transitions to more of a state of management,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’re seeing here.”
That transition follows the loss of its first tenant and major employer Teradata, which completed its move of more than 200 jobs to San Diego earlier this year.
Competition to keep and attract tenants is likely to intensify, Goodrich said, and several factors may influence Austin Landing’s success. Among them: the economy; and the marketing of other regional sites, including Beavercreek’s The Mall at Fairfield Commons and The Greene, the downtown Dayton area and Liberty Center north of Cincinnati.
Two corners of the Austin interchange also remain vacant and both have drawn the interest of developer Larry Dillin, who formerly managed Austin Landing.
One proposal across Austin Boulevard on Springboro land at the southeast corner – Austin South – has not gone forward while another at the southwest corner – Austin West – remains in the concept stage.
How those two tracts develop, Goodrich said, could either make for a more competitive scenario for Austin Landing or work in its favor.
“The biggest challenge for these Austin developers is going to be how they attract business tenants,” he said. “Ultimately, they’re going to have to attract from the Dayton and northern Cincinnati areas.”
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