UD Announces Plan To Redevelop Fairgrounds

Alexandra Scherb
Contributing Writer

Project partners UD and Premier Health announced on Oct. 2 that what was known as Montgomery County Fairgrounds will become a mixed-use, walkable neighborhood containing residential spaces, offices and gathering places. Its new name is onMain.

UD and Premier Health purchased Fairgrounds, an area adjacent to campus, on April 14, 2017. The land was sold to them for $15 million. UD and Premier each paid $5.25 million; the remaining cost was supplemented by Montgomery County and a state grant.

You can find what will be onMain by going to Fitz Hall, crossing the street to Flanagan’s Pub and walking a block toward the river. It will be boxed in by Patterson, Apple, Stewart and Main streets.

According to Cilla Shindell, the UD contact for information about onMain, the residential spaces will not be available as student housing; this is not another student neighborhood. Instead, there will be mix-income apartments available for rent by Dayton residents. These apartments especially will be intended for those who work at any of the businesses at onMain. Anyone living there with UD ties would be a graduate or UD faculty.

Provost Paul Benson confirmed there is no plan for classes to be held on the site.

Being next to the river and a mile from downtown Dayton, onMain will increase access to different parts of the city. The intention is for onMain to be pedestrian friendly.

“onMain should bridge UD’s campus with the downtown Dayton core, filling a geographical gap that has long separated Stewart Street from the heart of Dayton’s downtown,” Benson said.

The neighborhood will include urban agriculture on the western end of the site (along Patterson Street), as well as on the building rooftops. The structures will be designed in an environmentally-sustainable way.

Shindell said “to fully build out the project could take up to 15 to 20 years, hundreds of millions of dollars and involve numerous partners.”

What students will see crop up in the initial phase of construction (in about 3 or 4 years, according to Shindell) is the catalytic building.

“We envision the early catalytic building as having a research focus, both for enterprises that might be directly affiliated with UD and/or with Premier Health, but also for research-focused companies in Dayton looking for additional office space with access to flexible high-bay laboratory spaces,” Benson said. “This sort of environment will need student talent during UD students’ educations and after they graduate.”

Construction will begin at the corner of Stewart and Main, with the catalytic building, and will progress along the edges. The projects with longer timelines will be in the center of the site.

They also “have started outreach to potential funding sources to help fund initial phases of the redevelopment, including roadways, utilities, water and sewer and removal of some structures,” Shindell said.

The 38-acre site has the potential to increase the number of and diversify the types of businesses in Dayton, as well as create more jobs.

“It will be a platform to attract businesses and entrepreneurs to bring jobs and opportunities to the area as well as a sustainable and inclusive living environment with an emphasis on wellness,” said UD President Eric Spina.

Fairgrounds, now onMain, is not the only site UD is involved in redeveloping. The university also in investing money in the Dayton Arcade, which is in downtown Dayton.

Because it’s estimated to take 15 to 20 years to complete, current students won’t reap the benefits from onMain. But maybe we’ll get to see how it turns out when we visit our kids for family weekend.  

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