Austin Landing could close roads to cars to create ‘safe zone’

Sept 04, 2018
The intersection of Innovation Drive and Penny Lane in Austin Landing is one area at the Miami Twp. complex that gets a higher volume of pedestrian and automobile traffic. It is located near office buildings, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, such as a multiplex cinema and The Park, where many events are held. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Austin Landing leaders could restrict – or possibly eliminate — motor vehicle traffic on some streets for safety reasons as the multi-purpose complex attracts more people and businesses.

The residential, shopping and entertainment center’s developer is considering traffic changes with some arteries near high-volume pedestrian sites because of safety and traffic issues, among the harshest criticisms of Austin Landing. About 2,500 people work there, and thousands more come to shop, eat and be entertained.

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“We have some ideas to slow down traffic – or even eliminate traffic – on some of the roadways in the center of the development,” said Larry Dillin, president of VisCap Development, which manages Austin Landing.

Making the complex safer is an ongoing concern, but so, too, is the Austin Boulevard/Ohio 741 intersection, said John Morris, president of the board of Miami Twp. trustees.

Morris said the township is “working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on whatever might be needed outside and around the development.”

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During rush hours, traffic at several locations around the Austin/Ohio 741 interchange is already at levels not projected until 2030. About 50,000 automobiles a day pass through that intersection, according to ODOT.

“There’s a lot of concerns on what’s going to be happening if there’s development on the south side of Austin Landing,” Morris said.

Dillin has been closely involved in that issue, working with ODOT before VisCap’s $350 million Austin South proposal in Springboro can move forward.

But north of Austin Boulevard, for more than a year VisCap has taken a number of steps aimed at increasing safety. They include:

•Changing traffic flow and parking access near the multi-screen Cinepolis theater;

•Improving crosswalks;

•Increasing access for the handicapped;

•Moving to install a traffic signal between Kroger and Kohl’s;

•Planning to institute a 25-mile per hour speed limit throughout the complex.

Dillin said the idea of restricting automobile access on certain streets may involve a few options to redirect traffic within the complex.

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“So we’re looking at some ideas for that,” he said. “Maybe having a dedicated pedestrian area as opposed to vehicle access to help with traffic where we have people moving outside the most. We’d like to make that a safe zone.”

The area in and around The Park hosts and a variety of entertainment and charity events each year. They range from children’s activities, game and movie nights, and car shows to monthly First Fridays, Miami Twp.’s National Night Out, Christmas Tree-lighting celebrations and New Year’s Eve parties.

The Park is surrounded by more than a dozen bars and restaurants, and a multiplex cinema, with four office buildings and a 270-unit luxury apartment complex to the north.

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Another office building immediately north is being built, a restaurant to its west has been approved, as has 12,550 square foot retail building to its south that includes an outdoor plaza. The retail tenant has not been identified, but Dillin said it is a national company.

“The answer to (better safety) is not necessarily eliminating traffic,” he said, but “may be restricting traffic during certain hours, so it’s a safe zone.”

Although not involved in conversations about possibly restricting traffic within Austin Landing, Morris said VisCap should “do what’s necessary” to keep pedestrians and drivers safe.

“It’s an evolving development with new tenants and new buildings – continuing to grow,” Morris said, “And clearly I would hope the developer is going to take both resident and pedestrian and driver safety and make it its highest priority.”

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