Michael Heitz, the developer of the Hara Arena property, said Monday that sometime in the next two to three months, demolition of about two-thirds of the tornado-damaged property should begin.
Heitz said he is putting together a legal description of the recently rezoned former entertainment property, with an environmental report and surveys, for JobsOhio. He expects JobsOhio, the state’s private jobs creation arm, to put its marketing muscle behind the 130-acre site, to help him find a future user.
“This is one of their biggest tracts in the state of Ohio, under one piece of land,” Heitz said in an interview. “We’re talking about 130 acres. They want to get involved in this, especially since we got the zoning changed from recreational. (Until then) They couldn’t do anything about it until we got it industrial (zoning). We’re working very closely with them on that right now.”
RELATED: Is there hope for Hara site? Trotwood approves new zoning for property
A message seeking comment was sent to representatives of Jobs Ohio and the Dayton Development Coalition.
Last week, the Dayton Daily News reported that Trotwood City Council had rezoned about 25 acres of the site for light industrial uses. Now, Heitz says he will approach Harrison Twp. for a similar rezoning for the township’s part of the former arena property.
“We want to do this one step at a time,” Heitz said. “Then we’re taking the other acreage we have — about, I think, 60 acres in Trotwood — and (we want to) get that rezoned right now, too.”
Clean-up work of the site is happening now, he said.
“Since we got that (Trotwood rezoning) completed, we can go on and move,” said Heitz, who is based in Lexington Ky.
Trotwood council last week approved the rezoning of the area from recreational to a PUD (planed unit development) that permits light industrial uses, said Chad Downing, executive director of the Trotwood Community Improvement Corp.
Hara closed in 2016 after 50 years as a performance and event locale. It was heavily damaged in last year’s spate of Memorial Day tornadoes that tore through the region.
“There’s no chance we’re going to bring back Hara Arena,” Heitz said, anticipating a question he says he hears often. “People have been after me. ‘When are you going to reopen that?’ There is absolutely no chance at all that we’re going to bring back Hara Arena. There’s just no market for it.”
In fact, the familiar arena section of the property will likely have to come down, due to the destruction wrought by the tornado.
Instead, there is a market, he believes, for light industrial uses. Heitz said he has received calls from interested potential users whom he cannot discuss. “There are a lot of other opportunities in there,” he said. “I could have something for you in the next 30 to 45 days.”
Trotwood zoning does not permit trucking or logistics uses at the property, he also said.