Investment in Wilmington Pike will boost city, officials say

Facade upgrades, demolition program are newest part of strategy

Kettering city officials hope a $500,000 annual investment along the Wilmington Pike corridor will spur reinvestment and redevelopment.

The city has bought four properties, including the former Wonder Bread Store and a former Payless shoe store, with a portion of that annual investment.

“Wilmington Pike through the years became an area where there was a little less investment going on. There were some vacancies along there. Some of the buildings were getting older and a little less useful in their lifetime,” said Kettering Economic Development Manager Gregg Gorsuch. “So City Council thought it was time to take a step back, look at the entire Wilmington Pike Corridor and see what could be done there.”

The Wilmington Pike Improvement Committee, created in 2012, has worked to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

“It’s also a major thoroughfare connecting the southern suburbs to the core city of Dayton, so we see a lot of traffic throughout the day,” Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said.

The city invested $10 million, mostly funded by grants, to improve roadway infrastructure in anticipation of redevelopment.

“They did several infrastructure improvements, starting with the roadway, sewer, water, fiber optics. All of that is now in place and ready for future development to take off,” Gorsuch said.

Schwieterman said drawing customers into businesses in the city starts with the roadway.

“The condition of that roadway really sets the tone for people’s perception of the city of Kettering,” he said. “It’s good for our economic development and our benefit, to show a good picture and the condition of Wilmington Pike’s roadway.”

Gorsuch and Schwieterman expect the roadway improvements and redevelopment efforts to draw more revenue for the city.

“I think taxes will generate more revenue for the city. The vacant buildings now and the vacant lots along Wilmington Pike are certainly not generating any revenue for the city, so … we’re going to encourage redevelopment there and get some new businesses to move into some buildings — existing buildings or new buildings,” Gorsuch said.

The committee created a strategic plan that includes the city’s purchase of vacant lots or buildings to prepare for redevelopment. It recently implemented two new programs.

“The Facade and Site Improvement Program is a program where we will assist property owners to do a new facade on the building, for example. The city will pay half of that cost, up to $25,000,” Gorsuch said.

The Demolition Program pays for half the cost of demolition, up to $25,000, for privately owned buildings.

The Facade and Site Improvement Program has already aided in the upgrade of one privately owned building, and is in the approval process for another.

The former Burger King property at 4125 Wilmington Pike is scheduled to be torn down as part of the Demolition Program, according to Gorsuch. It is expected to be the future home of a Grismer Tire store, according to the city.

“We knew when we started this project it was not going to be a one- or two-year project. It’s more, I would say a 10- to 15-year project before we really see the end, but we are encouraged by what we’re seeing so far,” Gorsuch added. “El Rancho Grande recently opened a restaurant along Wilmington Pike. Meijer’s is doing a very extensive renovation to their location along Wilmington Pike. Kitchens By Design just did a large addition and renovated their entire showroom on Wilmington Pike Corridor..”

Gorsuch also cited the recent openings of Kettering Grill and Cafe and The Wright Wing restaurant.

Schwieterman said the investments will benefit everyone in Kettering.

“It will stabilize the area for years to come, and we want to add value for the property owners that have put their livelihood and their businesses on Wilmington Pike,” he said. “And, at the same time, we want to provide value to the residents who live adjacent to Wilmington Pike.”

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