New plans for Dayton Mall area

Area officials are forging a new future for the Dayton Mall area.

Consultants, hired by the Miami Twp. trustees for $55,000, unveiled a preliminary plan last week for everything from branding to land use for the mall and adjoining residential, office, commercial and retail areas in Miamisburg, Washington Twp. and West Carrollton.

“This is not just about the Dayton Mall,” said Chris Snyder, assistant director for planning and zoning in Miami Twp.

The plan is part of a township effort to focus on developing a long-term plan for the 40-year-old mall and surrounding area.

“The goal of the project is to produce a plan that will create a social center of Miami Twp.,” according to the report on the first phase.

Phase I sets the stage for creation of a detailed master plan, expected to cost as much as $374,900, taking into account everything from pedestrian friendliness to regional competition to ensure the mall’s continued success.

Phase II will build on key considerations established during the initial project work.

Key considerations include:

  • Creating a township center
  • Providing safe and efficient roads and connections
  • Developing uniform building standards
  • Promoting a collaborative environment with political jurisdictions and agencies and leveraging existing resources
  • Creating a mixed-use enviroment including evaluating existing venues
  • Positioning the mall to be the primary shopping venue in Montgomery County
  • And identifying champions of the plan

“The mall has to be the primary shopping area in the area,” Sukirti Ghosh, of MKSK, the lead consulting firm, during a presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 8, to the Miami Twp. trustees.

The mall already faces competition from retail and mixed-use developments around the region.

Most recently, last week Dodd Camera announced it was opening a store at Austin Landing and closing its Dayton Mall store.

Other competitors identified in the plan include the Fairfield Commons Mall and the Greene in Greene County. Steiner + Associates, developer of the Greene, is working on another mixed-used area south on Interstate 75 in Butler County.

“We know there’s going to be more competition. Some of that is already under way,” Doug Harnish of Market Metric$, a local market analysis firm, said during the presentation to the township trustees.

The mall area will be competing for market share, particularly recognizing the potential from population growth to the south, Harnish said.

“Warren County is the most significant area in terms of future growth,” he said.

Warren County, which grew 34.3 percent from 2000 to 2010, is expected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2017. Butler County is expected to add another 3.7 percent between 2012 and 2017 after adding 10.6 percent in the past decade.

The township has been promoting greater “connectivity” along the Ohio 741 corridor between the mall and development around the Austin Boulevard interchange at Interstate 75.

The mall-area plan consultants, who worked with a steering committee including area business owners in developing the preliminary plan, are expected to turn to the public in the next phase.

At last week’s presentation, representatives from Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton urged the planners to include better bus access.

“When you are looking for people to work and to shop, I think you have to make it feasible to get to the mall,” Paula Ewers said.

The new plan also will take into account past plans dating back to 2005 on making the area – from the mall in Miami Twp. east into Washington Twp. and west in Miamisburg and West Carrollton - more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

“The street is not only for the cars,” said Ghosh, an associate in MKSK’s Covington, Ky., office.

MKSK’s work includes the development the entertainment pavilion and bike hub at Riverscape in downtown Dayton. Local consultants included Market Metric$, LJB, transportation and infrastructure specialists; and O’Keeffe public relations and communications, worked on the preliminary plan.

New York-based FRCH provided branding and conceptual assistance, while HR&A, another national firm, provided economic development perspectives.

Noting the plan went beyond Miami Township limits, Trustee Mike Nolan supported the mall area’s economic development district picking up the cost of the next phase. The township footed the $55,000 bill for the preliminary work.

The economic development district is expected to pay $104,140 to $374,900 for the plan, depending on the level of detail sought on public financing of proposed improvements through tax incremental financing.

Trustee Deborah Preston advocated for the plan including most detailed information, to be provided through the most expensive option, expected to cost $374,900.

“It would just really solidify the vision,” Preston said.

A leader will need to be identified to pursue the plan and federal, state and local assistance, Ghosh said.

“After this vision is developed,” he said. “Somebody has to champion it.”

The economic development district’s role pleased Mark Langdon, part of the the mall redevelopment plan and general manager of the Homewood Suites by Hilton Dayton South.

“That makes it a regional initiative versus a Miami Twp. initiative. I feel that’s what we need,” he said. “This is something I’ve been advocating for a long, long time.”

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