Region’s 1st large-scale new urbanism community will test market in Warren County

What experts are calling the region’s first large-scale planned new urbanism community, featuring a sports park, town center, commercial and retail development and ultimately 4,500 residences, is beginning to take shape on 1,400 acres between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Already, sewers and stormwater systems to underlie Union Village are well under way and the first homes should begin to appear early this summer across from the Otterbein retirement community’s main campus on Ohio 741 in Warren County.

Efforts to create an intergenerational community are halfway in place.

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“This is something unlike anything else that is being offered in Cincinnati-Dayton right now,” said John Yung, senior project executive at Urban Fast Forward, a commercial real estate brokerage offering urban planning services from an office in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood.

“This is basically a brand-new town between Monroe and Lebanon,” added Yung, who graduated from Lebanon High School.

Last week, developer Bob Turner, best known for the Habersham planned community in South Carolina, talked about his latest new urbanism project from an office overlooking the first phase of Union Village: 89 homes, four apartment buildings and a town center to feature Otterbein’s headquarters, restaurants and retail.

By early summer, Turner said some of about 30 homes to be completed this year should be under construction, as well as the town center and grand entrance to the community, across from Marble Hall - an old building dating back to when the area was a Shaker community known as Union Village.

The new Union Village is expected to unfold over at least 30 years. It is planned according to new urbanism principles: walkability, connectivity, mixed use and diversity, mixed housing, quality architecture and urban design, traditional neighborhood structure, increased density, green transportation, sustainability and quality of life.

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Just south of the first phase at the corner of Ohio 741 and Ohio 63, a shopping center, anchored by a large supermarket “could happen sooner too,” Turner said.

Turner and project manager Matt Obringer, formerly of the Warren County Regional Planning Commission, talked about features including elevated porches 8 feet deep, providing privacy for residents of homes, built close to the street. The homes will be on narrow lots with garages along alleys in the rear.

A 200-acre greenway is to be preserved, as well as smaller parks throughout the development.

Norton Commons near Louisville, Ky., is the closest example of a development comparable to Union Village, according to Turner. He also said Evans Farms, a community planned north of Columbus, could be similar.

Turner expressed confidence the Dayton-Cincinnati market would respond to Union Village and greenfield new urbanism.

“They haven’t been given that opportunity,” he said. “We’re hoping the market will support it here.”

Colliers International’s Ohio research director, Loren DeFilippo, agreed Union Village was a unique regional example of new urbanism.

He pointed to similar “suburban town center” developments in places across the nation including Reston, Va., and Seaside, Fla.

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He noted the location between Dayton and Cincinnati labor markets in growing, affluent Warren County.

“There is growing interest in live, work, play,” DeFilippo said in a telephone interview.

Is such a large development viable over 30 or more years at that location?

“I can’t give you a definitive if it’s going to be 100 percent successful,” DeFilippo said. “I think it will be a success.”

The Otterbein office can “kickstart” the commercial development, helping to draw restaurants and other retail tenants to the downtown center, DeFilippo said.

Elderly customers will be able to walk across Ohio 741 from the homes and residence halls on the Otterbein campus.

“It becomes its own little town,” DeFilippo said.

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