A 1,230-acre planned community is starting to grow up in Warren County.
Ten builders will contribute homes, apartments or condominiums to the first phase of Union Village, a community also to feature a $15.3 million, 20-field sports complex expected to open in the spring.
“It’s going to be incredible,” said Charles Simms, one of the builders comprising the Union Village Guild. “It’s just going to take a little time to get it going.”
Union Village is expected to be developed over the next 30 years on the land off Ohio 741, between Springboro and Mason.
The development is to include retail, restaurants and offices accessible via walkways and a 200-acre greenway system of meadows, woodland parks and pathways connecting to Warren County Armco Park and the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. according to a press release announcing the builders.
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Last week, the entrance to the town center and the road system for the first phase were complete. The town center will be anchored by a $6 million, three-story building for Otterbein’s headquarters, a restaurant and bank, as well as the Union Village real estate office.
Simms, known for townhome developments in Dayton and Springboro, has signed on to build seven townhomes and 48 apartments here. Nine other home builders will construct the homes in the first phase, beginning this winter.
The guild is to eventually include a range of “designers and craftspeople who share a vision” for the principles of New Urbanism, according to the press release.
For example, garages will be behind the residences and accessed from alleys, the homes sitting close to streets designed to “calm traffic,” Project Manager Matt Obringer said.
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“It’s things like front porches, tree-lined streets, and the ability to walk to the corner store a block away that makes the project special,” Obringer said in the release announcing the guild.
Obringer proudly pointed out how Marble Hall — one of the original buildings in the Union Village Shaker community that predated Otterbein — stands directly across Ohio 741 from the Union Village town center entrance. In another nod to history, the streets are named for Shaker families that lived there.
For the first time, Otterbein’s 200-acre retirement campus on the west side of Ohio 741, and Union Village are being described separately, although the entire tract is owned by the retirement-community provider.
“They are two distinctive projects,” said Gary Horning, vice president of marketing and communications for Otterbein. “The Otterbein Lebanon senior life community is not part of Union Village, although who knows there may come a time we use the location to make it easier to find us.”
“Residents of Otterbein and those of Union Village may certainly walk across the street to leverage events or activities or shopping or restaurants – no different than Otterbein residents spending time in Lebanon or other local towns or attractions,” Horning added in an email.
Union Village residents who are at least 55 years old and willing to pay fees will be eligible for Otterbein activities and amenities, Horning said.
The first phase of Union Village is expected to draw baby boomers and millennials, rather than senior citizens like those residing across Ohio 741.
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Simms said the builders visited Norton Commons, a new urbanism community outside Louisville, Ky., to understand New Urbanism principles. The two-story townhomes he plans to build will have detached two-car garages, separated by yards.
“Otterbein hopes to earn money from the land development, which we will invest in our core business – senior care,” Horning added.
Across Ohio 741, Otterbein continues to expand its main campus, most recently investing close to $2 million in five new sign-family homes designed for retirees, with New Urbanism features.
“You can think of Union Village and Otterbein as really good neighbors,” Obringer added.
Contractors are putting the final touches on $1.2 million in road improvements on Ohio 741 and Greentree Road.
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The first tournament at the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village is expected to be held in April, depending on how well the “growing season” prepares the grass fields for use, Deputy Administrator Martin Russell told the Warren County commissioners.