Montgomery County Fairgrounds plan's fate uncertain

Miller-Valentine: Brookville fair site not viable

Developer, Fair Board, offer little clarity on project direction

A plan to move the historic Montgomery County Fairgrounds to Brookville, which has been in the works for more than a year, appears to be in jeopardy and it’s not clear what that will mean for the proposed redevelopment of the existing fairgrounds property south of downtown Dayton.

The president of the Montgomery County Fair board said early Thursday that he expected the developer, Miller-Valentine Group, to step away from the project.

But later in the day, the president of Miller-Valentine said the funds for the fairgrounds relocation have been secured, but added it may not be relocated to Brookville, which has been the understanding of local communities for months.

Miller-Valentine Group President and Partner Dave Dickerson said in an e-mailed statement that $19.1 million has been secured for the fairgrounds relocation project through both public and private support.

But he added: “The Montgomery County Fair Board and Miller-Valentine Group have determined that the Northbrook Industrial Park in Brookville, initially identified as a new home for the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, as currently proposed, is no longer a viable option for this relocation.

“The fair board and Miller-Valentine still recognize the benefits of relocating the fair,” Dickerson said.

The fair board met Thursday night to discuss the issue, but no decision will be made until Feb. 9 when they meet next, according to a spokesman.

John Friedline, president of the fair board that owns the historic fairgrounds off South Main Street across from Miami Valley Hospital, was still optimistic about the development.

“We don’t think this is the kiss of death,” Friedline said.

Miller-Valentine has until Jan. 31 to officially to purchase the fairgrounds property or exit any proposed deal, Friedline said.

“They have not officially done that yet, but that is the indication that we are receiving,” the board president said.

Friedline spoke on the same day that the city of Dayton announced that it had reached an agreement with Miller-Valentine and another company — Cross Street Partners, a real estate services firm from Baltimore, Md. — to rehab the downtown Arcade in several phases

Friedline cited unexpected expenses in the fairgrounds project as a reason for Miller-Valentine to change its plans.

“Basically because of budget restraints,” he said. “There were a couple of things at the last moment, unforeseen expenses, that neither party was aware of. Financially, it’s just not going to be able to be worked out.”

Asked about the unexpected costs, he said, “It was just a little bit of everything.”

Execution of the project was always seen to be dependent on getting funding in place, Friedline said.

The fairgrounds redevelopment had been envisioned in 2014 and 2015 as an expansive project affecting two cities, costing an estimated $18 million at first. The deal would have moved the fairgrounds and the fair events from the current site on South Main Street to the Northbrook Industrial Park in Brookville.

That move would have included moving the fairground’s historic Roundhouse, Dickerson has said in the past.

In 2014, the city of Brookville rezoned nearly 70 acres of land to host the fair.

“We’ve had a number of recent discussions, and we have no comment on those discussions,” Rodney Stephan, law director for the city of Brookville, said Thursday.

The vision was to have 20 acres of fairgrounds property developed commercially with a grocery store, hotel, office, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The remaining 17 acres would have been used to build market-rate apartments and condominiums.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley said all involved parties have worked hard for three years to make a deal at the fairgrounds happen. He declined further comment.

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