Dayton Mall area plan calls for changes

For 45 years, people pulled off Interstate 75 in Miami Twp. to visit what they called the Dayton Mall area. Planners hope to brand that still bustling retail and commercial area as Miami Crossing as part of a long-range plan that includes more than $200 million in proposed investment.

A market assessment shows the plan approved on Tuesday can create 1,200 multifamily residential units, and more than 350 new jobs from thousands of square feet of new retail and office space within 12 years.

Lyons Ridge Drive area south of the mall will feature, as part of the proposal, a 16-acre village center that includes housing, retail, entertainment and a public park, officials said. The village center proposal is a key part of talks with developers, officials said.

“We’ve had some discussions with developers over the course of the process. But now we’ve got a plan and some visuals it is more significant,” said Miami Twp. Community Development Director Chris Snyder.

The 145-page plan, approved by the Miami Twp.-Dayton Mall Joint Economic Development District board, will put local officials in a better position to address and attract large-scale projects, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations already to date – which is the reason we have the recommendations we have in the plan,” he said. “We feel the plan is a viable plan and can be done and we’ve certainly had a lot of conversations with a lot of the effected property owners.”

The panel overseen by Miamisburg and Miami Twp. hired Stantec’s Urban Places Group last year to complete the first master plan for area around the 45-year-old mall.

The mall accounts for more than $200 million in annual sales, and the 2.2-square mile master plan area employs more than 8,000 workers. JEDD officials sought the plan as a means of keeping the area vibrant with short- and long-term projects.

The district has been the target of criticism because of traffic congestion, lack of pedestrian safety and access, and its limited access for the disabled, among other issues. But the plan “shows it’s moving in a very progressive way,” said JEDD board Chairman Tracy Williams.

The switch to branding the area as Miami Crossing is detailed in the plan. The strategy “identifies the mall area as a district and destination, clearly articulates its uniqueness, and builds on the marketability of a premier address,” according to the plan.

The logo can be incorporated in to the district in various ways, including signs, streetscapes and landscapes, officials said. Miami Crossing will be introduced in various areas over time, Snyder said, but it may be a part of early changes around Exit 44, where Interstate 75 overpasses Ohio 725.

“I think it’s really going to be a couple of years,” he said. “In the first year, we’ll see how we can roll it out in an organized campaign.”

Because of earlier proposed changes involving Exit 44, Miamisburg City Manager Keith Johnson said it caused him some apprehension. But the process in this instance “was a good one,” he said.

The change in branding was guided by public input sessions, where community members “reviewed the design brief, which highlighted outcomes branding could produce; described strategies for unifying design elements across the district; and outlined three potential design directions for a brand,” according to the plan.

The village center is a result of feedback from the community, which said it wanted to see a “more walkable, livable” area around the mall, said master plan Project Manager Steve Kearney of Stantec.

The Lyons Ridge is one of three “catalytic” development sites outlined in the plan. The others are Mad River Station and Prestige Summit. But Lyons Ridge is thought to be one of the first areas where redevelopment can more easily occur because the township owns about three acres there, documents show.

It would include 300 to 350 residential units, 30,000 square feet of entertainment space, 35,000 square feet of retail space and a 95,000-square-foot park. It would include splitting Lyons Ridge just north of Lyons Road and creating a park across a wide boulevard. The park’s north border would be Mall Ring Road, just south of the Dayton Mall.

A scaled down version of the village center is less expensive and includes about nine acres on the north side of Lyons Ridge with no split in the road, according to the plan. It would include 200 residential units, 31,000 square feet of retail space, an 18,000 square foot park and – Kearney said – a higher return on investment for the developer.

Recommended phased development calls for Lyons Ridge and Mad River Station to begin in three to five years with most aspects of Prestige Summit not beginning for 10 years, according to the plan.

Snyder and Kearney have emphasized that future development will be “market driven” and done so with the willingness of land owners.

“We’re very clear in that every property owner might not want to be a part of this,” Kearney said. “There are some (land) uses that are here today that can and will work with this plan.”

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