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Springfield to build Melody Parks housing project

Officials breaking ground on the site of the old Melody drive-in theater.

An old Springfield favorite has been torn down to allow new life to enter the community. Melody Cruise-In Auto Theater will be replaced by a large development called Melody Parks.

The project will bring up to 1,250 housing units over the course of a decade, as well as about 500,000 square feet of commercial space for its first phase. That could grow to as much as 1 million square feet of commercial space in future phases of the project.

It is the largest project of its kind in the area in decades. It will cost an estimated $500 million and will be spread on 187 acres.

The project is looking to create a holistic community. That includes plenty of housing options, stores and restaurants in walking distance, with parks and trails nearby.

Jeff Fontain is the president of Borror, the Columbus-based developer heading the project.

“The design aesthetic that we’ve really gone with for this project is intentionally, artfully crafting what those uses are for the walkability. So somebody can use that trail system if they want to walk down to a restaurant, walk down and grab a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, go fur a run, go for a jog,” he said.

Of the 1,250 housing units, around 708 single family homes, around 395 apartment units, and 145 “for rent patio homes.” These patio homes are single story homes built on concrete slabs with an attached or detached garage.

This wider variety of housing options are intended to allow for an easier accessibility to housing.

A bird's eye view of what the Melody Parks project could look like.
A bird's eye view of what the Melody Parks project could look like.

“There are some amazing old historic homes [in Springfield] that are absolutely gorgeous,” Fontaine said. “But for the more everyday-access person to get into a home or even for somebody who doesn’t want to have the maintenance and upkeep of an older home, there just really wasn’t an option. And so we immediately saw a housing void in this market.”

The name of the project and of the streets were also deliberate decisions. The project will keep the name “Melody Park” out of respect for the drive-in movie theater and all of the memories made there.

“The amount of people that I’ve met who have shared a story about when they used to go to this drive-in as kids, taking their kids, taking a girlfriend on the first date, those are the kind of stories that have come out of this,” Fontaine said. “To take that history and just erase it, it’s just not who we are.”

All of the roads in the project will also be named after influential directors, actors, and maybe even Springfield community members who have been in the entertainment industry.

The project has been a close collaboration between Borror and the city of Springfield.

“We pride ourselves on that relationship side [of things],” Fontaine said. “This has been a lot of fun, just creating friendships in a lot of ways.”

“[Borror] wants this to be a true community. And we appreciate that sort of partnership,” Bobby Bruno, the development project coordinator with Springfield, said.

Bruno continued, “I think this is a really awesome example that we can think big here in Springfield and have big things come together. I don’t think we’ve seen anything of this scale in decades, so it’s really, really exciting to the community.”

Phase One of the project includes demolition, installing the infrastructure, and the first round of houses and commercial buildings. Fontaine said demolition of the drive-in should be done in January.

Work on the infrastructure – utilities, waterline, sewer – will take through 2023 to complete. Once that is completed, people can begin moving in. That should begin around the spring or summer of 2024.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.