Huber Heights seeks to establish plan to revitalize center of city

Dayton Daily News (OH), 2014-07-27


July 27 -- Huber Heights officials are in the early stages of looking to revitalize the center of town that city leaders say points to a commitment to the entire community and not just the growth north of Interstate 70 .

The first step in what the city is calling the "Central Revitalization Plan" is to address the vacant Big Lots building near the Brandt Pike and Chambersburg Road intersection, which could be the future site of the city tax and water offices as well as the new Dayton Metro Library Huber Heights branch.

Officials said if the city is willing to take the first step in redeveloping that area, it would then encourage other property owners to do the same.

City Council is expected to vote Monday night on authorizing a $50,000 budget to begin working on the initial project, which could include market and environmental studies and additional land use and planning efforts.

The funds to pay for the initial work will come from the general fund.

"This community is committed to the entire community," City Manager Rob Schommer said. "Growth in one area of the community will benefit all areas of the community, including south of I-70 ."

The target area is 6550-6600 Brandt Pike , where a mixed-use concept could thrive, Schommer said. Big Lots closed in November of last year and moved to its new location at 5555 Executive Boulevard .

That left an empty 92,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1974. Schommer said the property has several maintenance and fire code violations, and demolishing the blighted structure is a possibility.

The property is owned by 6550 Brandt Pike Ohio LLC , according to Montgomery County records. The property owner could not be reached for comment.

The city leases space on a month-to-month basis in the Huber Centre for the tax and water departments for nearly $5,600 .

The revitalization plan features 6,000 square feet of new office space for the city's tax and water departments; assisting the library with its relocation; developing outlots; identifying blighted properties for redevelopment; and could include demolition and creation of new developable lots.

A new public parking lot, green space and creating a community revitalization committee also are included in the plan. Schommer said the city could have a land use plan identified by the end of the year.

"This is well, well done," Huber Heights resident Janell Smith . "This is a fantastic plan."

Schommer said the city would like the library to be the focal point of the area. The current location is in the Huber Centre at 6160 Chambersburg Road , where it occupies 21,528 square feet, making it the largest branch library, according to Tim Kambitsch , executive director of the Dayton Metro Library .

Kambitsch said the Huber Heights relocation is part of segment four of the organization's overall project that features 17 new libraries by 2017 and $187 million in construction costs. The library's lease with the Huber Centre expires at the end of 2016.

The library plans to schedule community meetings the second half of next year and the design phase will take place in 2016. The goal is to open a new $6.6 million , 30,000-square-foot branch in Huber Heights in 2017, Kambitsch said.

Kambitsch said it's been suggested that the library move north of I-70 near the Sinclair Community College Learning Center and recreation amenities. But relocating the library to the former Big Lots site has "some appeal to it as well" because it would remain in close proximity to schools, Kambitsch said.

"This branch is one of our most successful locations," he said. "We want to make sure that we continue to be accessible and close to patrons. We have plenty of time to have that conversation with our community."

In 2013, 296,000 people visited the Huber Heights library and 729,000 items were borrowed.

The library would be a "catalyst in that area," Councilwoman Judy Blankenship said. "I'm really happy to see that they're thinking about keeping it in the area. It's been successful there."

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