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Former Montgomery County Fairgrounds To Find New Life As onMain: Dayton's Imagination District

A rendering of a completed onMain Imagination District.
A rendering of a completed onMain Imagination District.

Premier Health and the University of Dayton have unveiled a new name and concept for the former site of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. The 38 acre site is to be known as onMain: Dayton’s Imagination District.

The site will serve as a mixed-use community of residential, commercial and retail establishments, though Premier and UD officials say the district will not be designed as a retail and shopping destination like The Greene or Austin Landing.

Craig Self, Chief Strategy Officer at Premier says onMain will complement revitalization going on in Dayton already.

“We believe that we can create a walkable, urban neighborhood, we can create a place that people work, they live, they gather to create a creative innovation district,” he says. “It won’t lean retail unless it compliments the housing or buildings on the site.”

Development will begin along Main and Stewart streets, then likely continue to the top of the hill, developing the space around the historic Round House, which will serve as “a focal point of the development and where the community will gather."

Self says urban agricultural development would then be located on land at the western end of the site and on building rooftops.

“The other important part of the property is to be very environmentally focused, and address some issues that are potentially around food deserts our region. So our thought is, we build buildings that will be environmentally friendly - maybe some innovative technology, like how do you use the exterior panels of the building from an electrical standpoint, could we use the roofs from the solar standpoint, could you have hanging gardens off the side of the parking structures? And in the short term use the property potentially for urban gardening and then do some connectivity through, potentially the Gem City Market or others who are trying to address hunger in our region.”

Self says the mixed-income housing, on-site employers, and entertainment venues aim to bring a diverse population to the district, and connect onMain to the surrounding neighborhoods near Miami Valley Hospital, UD, and Veteran’s Park along the river, though he says final completion of the project could take several decades.

“Over the next 20 years, plus or minus, in this site we’ll invest as a community a couple hundred million, if you really think where this site could go.

Premier says over the next 12 to 24 months they’ll look at funding options as they invest in  infrastructure, demolition of some of the buildings on site, and restoration of the property’s historic Roundhouse. They’re hoping some of that funding comes from state and federal grants, and partnering with the city of Dayton.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.
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