New crossroads work to create identity ‘as the heart of Springboro’

City leaders set aside $400,000 to pay for a brick wall topped with “Welcome to Springboro” and featuring a community video board as part of a plan to welcome visitors to the city center’s new multi-million dollar development.

"I think the goal there is to create some identity of that as the heart of Springboro,"said Jerad M. Barnett, president and CEO of Mills-Barnett Pavilion, the developer redeveloping the northwest corner of Springboro's central crossroads.

The sign and landscaping will be placed at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, or Ohio 73 and Ohio 741, in Springboro.

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Springboro City Council earlier this month approved a five-year, $24.6 million capital improvements plan, including the sign for the area that previously was the home of Pro Automotive, an auto-repair shop and former gas station that since relocated to East Street.

While originally the city center, the crossroads area had lost out to newer parts of Springboro, such as Setttlers Walk, home to a Dorothy Lane Market, restaurants, a microbrewery and other shopping and services.

Austin Landing, just north of the city boundary, also drew people to its Kroger Marketplace, stores, microbrewery and restaurants.

Springboro’s efforts to attract extension of development across Austin Boulevard have so far not materialized.

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The overall budget includes $3 million in federal highway funding through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Another $350,000 of the capital-improvements budget is set aside for purchase of the last building still standing on six-acre section on the northwest corner owned by Springboro and turned over to Barnett’s company for redevelopment.

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All told, about $30 million is to be or has already been spent at and around the intersection, including $10 million committed by the developer, who is also working with Springboro on the Ascent office campus.

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Last week, Barnett said his company had seen to demolition of more buildings in the former Springboro IGA Plaza.

In addition, he said work had begun on infrastructure and roads in the redevelopment now known as Wright Station.

Barnett said the name Wright Station is expected to enable the city and the developer to “create some branding” capitalizing on the last name of Springboro’s founder, Jonathan Wright, and the fact the city was a stop on the Underground Railroad used to help escaped slaves from southern states get to free states or Canada.

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The developer said his company also was finalizing drawings and talking to potential users about the first retail building in the development.

“We’d like to be submitting for permit still this year and breaking ground after the first of the year,” Barnett said, unconcerned about construction during winter months.

First the developer is to build the $4.5 million performing arts center expected to anchor Wright Station.

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The center will be home to the Premier Health Theater, Springboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Playhouse South Theater Group from Kettering and Center Stage Academy of the Arts and include a 3,000-square-foot waiting area.

The Chamber, currently located on South Main Street in Olde Springboro, would lease about 2,000 square feet, including a meeting room for up to 60 people.

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A 2,500-square-foot dance studio is to be leased by Center Stage, which is currently located next to the redevelopment in buildings previously adjoining the Springboro IGA.

The southwest corner has also been cleared of a Speedway station, but City Manager Chris Pozzuto there were no other firm plans at or near the intersection in 2019.

“All we anticipate for now is what is detailed in the CIP,” Pozzuto said in in an email.

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