Construction crews “topped out” an indoor skydiving chain’s first Ohio bodyflight location Tuesday with one of its highest beams ahead of a planned late spring opening.
The new iFLY Cincinnati in Butler County’s Liberty Twp. is expected to open on the outskirts of the $350 million mixed-use Liberty Center complex.
iFLY has 48 locations worldwide and 36 locations throughout the United States, according to Anthony Thompson, project manager for iFLY, which is based in Austin, Texas.
The experiential entertainment company chose Butler County for its next location because it did not have a facility in this part of the country, Thompson said.
“We felt that this area would be most advantageous for us to open up a brand new facility, one that is of a current prototype, to bring excitement and indoor flying to the community,” he said.
Company officials previously told this news outlet that locating Ohio’s first iFLY in the growing area between Cincinnati and Dayton seemed to make the most sense to provide easy access for families in Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding cities.
Other new developments including Topgolf and Cabela’s in West Chester Twp. and Liberty Center in Liberty Twp. have identified the same trend, officials said.
iFLY’s interest in the region proves that the Interstate 75 Growth Corridor and the regional-draw projects that locate along it are able to attract “a much larger population” than what Kenwood Towne Center can attract, according to Giorgio Karras, a Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) vice president tasked with handling retail leasing at Liberty Center.
“The access down there is limited,” Karras said. “They’re not pulling from the population that I-75, or our site, does. We truly can pull from (not only Cincinnati, but also from) Dayton. A Kenwood site can’t do that.”
He said JLL expects the opening of iFLY to not only draw new customers to Liberty Center, but also more retail tenants.
“This truly unique attraction, being the first of its kind in Ohio, will attract thousands of new visitors from across the region to experience not only the best indoor skydiving but everything else Butler County has to offer,” said Mark Hecquet, president and CEO of the Butler County Visitors Bureau. .
The economic impact of indoor skydiving is significant because it’s something new, exciting and never been done before in the state, let alone the region, Thompson said.
“Therefore, it’s going to be a major draw not only (because) it’s an unusual looking building — it’s an eyecatcher — but also (because of) what we actually do inside,” he said.
iFLY recently opened new locations in Brisbane, Australia and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a Charlotte, North Carolina facility under construction. A typical iFLY creates 20 full-time positions and nine part-time positions, company officials said.
It took the company about a year to select Liberty Center as a site and secure Megen Construction as its choice to build the facility.
“It’s a humbling experience and thrilling at the same time,” said Evans Nwankwo, Megen Construction’s founder, president and CEO. “We’ve done fairly significant public buildings around (the area), for instance, the Freedom Center … and this one is not quite as big but … it’s very interesting and very complex to build and we’re very excited that after looking at six different companies, they chose our team to be able to bring this to life.”