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Former fairgrounds may not be fully redeveloped for decades

Demolition at the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds will begin later this year but it could take 15 to 20 years before the property is fully redeveloped.

The University of Dayton and Premier Health have entered a “new phase” of their plans for the 38-acre site on South Main Street, they jointly announced Wednesday. Though a detailed timeline of the project hasn’t been released, Wednesday’s announcement projects redevelopment of the property being taking place in multiple phases and being completed some time between 2033 and 2038.

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It often takes a decade or longer to finish a project with as dramatic a scope as the fairgrounds, said Jason Woodard, owner of Woodard Development

“I think with the two parties that are involved it’s going to be a great development for the region. People just need to have a little bit of patience,” Woodard said.

Woodard’s company is known for its development of Water Street town homes and flats and the Delco Lofts in downtown along the Great Miami River. Woodard pointed to Austin Landing as a development that started around 2009 and is just now finishing up its first development phase around nine years later.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after UD and Premier jointly bought the fairgrounds last year. UD and Premier each paid $5.25 million of the $15 million purchase price.

“This is not your typical capital development,” said Mary Boosalis, CEO and president of Premier Health. “We have an ambitious vision that will take considerable public and private support to realize. As we said from the beginning, we want to do this right versus fast, and that will take time.”

The organizations have started to seek funding for the property and will continue to do so for the next year or two. The university and health system are looking for partners who would be willing to pay for or help build roads and utility infrastructure such as water and sewer lines, according to the Wednesday announcement.

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Woodard said he hasn’t been approached about helping to redevelop the fairgrounds but he said it will not be hard to find people who want to. The fairgrounds redevelopment — just minutes from downtown’s central business district — is one of the most anticipated projects in recent Dayton history.

“They’re two of the biggest entities in the region so the ability to attract financing is certainly there,” Woodard said. “I don’t think getting the money will be an issue.”

The Story So Far 

Then: UD and Premier purchased the fairgrounds in 2017 and announced preliminary plans in January that call for a mix of retail, housing, green space and offices. 

Now: UD and Premier are seeking funding to build on the site. The organizations will spend a year or two seeking redevelopment funds. 

Next: No new construction will begin for one to two years and redevelopment may not be finished for 15 to 20 years, which is considered a fairly standard time line.

The university and health system released preliminary designs for the fairgrounds in January that call for a mix of housing, retail, green space and parking, among other uses. The plans propose building to begin along Main Street and work from the edges of the property inward.

“Our early emphasis is putting in place the resources and partnerships to support and ensure the success of the vision we introduced in January,” UD president Eric Spina said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

Though UD and Premier haven’t decided on specific plans for the future of the fairgrounds, they’ll be using it for other purposes in the meantime.

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Demolition on a number of structures will begin during the second half of 2018. The Roundhouse at the former fairgrounds will be preserved and a property management firm has been hired to maintain the grounds and keep the buildings secure, according to the announcement.

While Premier Health and Encompass Health construct a freestanding rehabilitation hospital north of the former fairgrounds, Miami Valley Hospital employees will temporarily use a portion of the north end of the property for parking. Passersby may also notice new landscaping and iron gates being installed at the former fairgrounds.

“The vision remains the same: to create a vibrant, mixed-use development that builds on Dayton’s history of innovation and entrepreneurship and can propel our next wave of jobs and opportunity,” Spina said.


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