Fairgrounds redevelopment plan takes step forward

For the first time, the plan to build new housing, offices, retail and public spaces at the former Montgomery County fairgrounds on Main Street received initial approval.

The approval Tuesday night by the Dayton Plan Board is an early step toward a new neighborhood – which will be called onMain – becoming a reality and transforming the 38-acre site.

The plan, which gives a high level look at how the development will look, still needs to be approved by Dayton City Commission and then each individual construction project will need to be approved.

But the board approval is still the first look at the fruits of four public meetings, an advisory committee and several focus groups trying to distill a vision for the site, which will be a central part of the city.

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The property along South Main Street is owned by University of Dayton and Premier Health, who came together for a joint venture to redevelop the property. onMain, which will be one of the largest projects in Dayton in recent years.

The long term development will be built out in phases and the plan is to start along Main and Stewart and have that corner be the catalyst as the neighborhood is built inward.

The project sailed through the planning board without opposing speakers. OnMain CEO Buddy LaChance credited that the developers had four public meetings, as well as focus groups and an advisory committee, so they could know what people wanted.

“Even though this is now a private piece of property, they (Premier and UD) have treated it as something that is a community asset and something that we want the community to feel is an asset,” LaChance said.

Jim Wall, South Park resident, said he’s an enthusiastic supporter of the plan and said he wanted to compliment the developers for working with the community.

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“I think the development standard with the staff and what the developers have put together really makes me comfortable that as time goes by, this project is going to be dealt with carefully, professionally and first class,” Wall said.

Initially, the plan calls for a concentration of employers on the south end of the site. North of that is where new housing is proposed.

The plan calls for about 80 percent of the site to be for buildings and streets and about 20 percent as common open space. The development will have an urban design with buildings built out to the streets and sidewalks.

OnMain officials said previously that they expect to work with many developers and businesses on the different projects on the site.

LaChance said after they go to the city commission for approval, they will be able to take more steps and see where the market takes the project.

“Our expectation is that if we’re building the streets, the sidewalks, and the grid for the site as well as the public spaces, that we’ll be looking to partner with developers who support the vision that we’ve cast for the site,” LaChance said.

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The internal streets that will be built within the neighborhoods should be accommodating to walkers and bikers, with the widest internal street being one lane in each direction.

The developers also outlined several open spaces where the public can gather such as a public area around the preserved historic roundhouse. Another public space was proposed on the northeast corner of the site, which is an elevated part of the former fairgrounds with a good view of downtown.

“The views are awesome here. It’s such a unique location within the city of Dayton and they are treating it with that degree of importance that it deserves,” said city planning manager Tony Kroeger.

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