The Montgomery County Agricultural Society is expected to vote Tuesday night on whether to sell its fairgrounds property just south of downtown Dayton so that it can move to a new site in Brookville.
If MCAS, often referred to as the Fair Board, approves the resolutions, Miller Valentine Group would have two years to exercise an option to purchase the 37-acre South Main Street site for $16 million to $18 million. But an outline of the proposed agreement says both parties “will work diligently to execute the proposed option agreement by Dec. 31, 2013.”
Eric Joo, vice president of commercial development, said there is not a specific plan in place for the existing fairgrounds site if Miller Valentine acquires it.
“Step 1 is do they want to sell? Step 2 is let’s do a study of what we want to do with the site,” Joo said. “There are a lot of ideas. If you talk to 10 people at Miller Valentine, you’ll get 12 different ideas of what could go there. I think we’re seeing a resurgence of interest of people wanting to be downtown.”
The existing fairgrounds property is adjacent to two of the fastest-growing anchors in south Dayton – Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.
If the deal goes through, Miller Valentine also will be responsible for acquiring the 66-acre site proposed as the new home of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds – just north of I-70 and west of Arlington Road in Brookville.
The Agricultural Society, with the help of a consultant, evaluated three options, according to Alan Schaeffer, attorney for the Fair Board.
“They had multiple meetings … each site was rated, and the best site was determined to be the Brookville site,” Schaeffer said. “And keep in mind, in that process, the current location was evaluated.”
Joo said the move to Brookville would result in a larger fairgrounds site that could accommodate on-site camping, and provide a rural setting suited to the Agricultural Society’s mission of education and support of youth programs like 4-H.
John Yancik, vice president of the MCAS, said if the board turns down Miller Valentine’s offer, it will have to address how to continue running the fair at the existing site.
“I would say it’s truly still up in the air,” Yancik said. “We have a 21-person board, so there will be 21 different opinions.”
Joo and Schaeffer both said the Fair Board is struggling with a lack of funding and aging buildings at the existing site. Joo said the $16 million-plus purchase price is far above the actual value of the land, but will allow the fair to reinvest.
“The physical buildings on the fairgrounds are very poor, bordering on unsafe conditions and they become less and less viable every year,” Joo said. “That decreases visitor participation, which reduces income, which limits (the fair’s) ability to reinvest in itself.”
The 2014 Montgomery County Fair will be held at the South Main Street site regardless of Tuesday night’s vote, because of a clause that allows one more fair to be held at the site after Miller Valentine exercises its option to purchase.
The agreement also includes a provision where the county would move the historic roundhouse building from the South Main Street property to the Brookville site.
As with any project of this size, Tuesday’s vote is just one piece, with Joo saying the city, county, port authority and others would be involved in financing and other steps.
“But I would like to say, I wouldn’t be going through all this trouble if I didn’t think I was going to move forward,” Joo said.
FAIR BOARD MEETING
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Main and Stewart streets, Dayton