Harrison Twp. invests in tear downs, gains new business

Harrison Twp. is betting that if it keeps tearing down old buildings and cutting red tape, then new businesses will be drawn in.

In the traffic circle area off of North Dixie Drive, Restaurant Depot just broke ground for a new 50,000-square-foot store where a former flea market had been torn down.

The next block over from the retailer’s future warehouse, the township is preparing to spend $300,000 to tear down the former North Plaza Inn on North Dixie Driver to attract another new development.

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Township Administrator Kristofer McClintick said to turn abandoned properties into new development, it takes a lot of time, money, phone calls and paper work.

These sites can come with environmental issues, liens or multiple parcels with multiple owners that need to be tracked down. But McClintick said it can help give an edge in attracting business if the township government can show it will put in the work to help a project get started.

“We want to make sure they don’t have to do all the leg work,” he said.

The township is seeing a few recent successes.

Besides Restaurant Depot, Midway Trailer Sales, based in St. Marys, had a grand opening in February for a new location where an old hotel once stood.

The new location at 5135 Wadsworth Road was built after Lexington-based developer Michael Heitz bought the dilapidated Dayton Executive Inn, visible from Interstate 75, and demolished it.

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Midway Trailers bought the land for around $1.4 million, according to property records, and built a 7,500 building and lot that can hold more than 200 trailers. Four people were initially hired at the location.

“I guess you could say we’re kind of on a roll here,” said Cathi Spaugy, development director at Harrison Twp., referring to Midway Trailers and Restaurant Depot.

The projects are a win for the township of 22,000 people just north of Dayton, which has had its share of economic struggles. When the final property value changes over the last three years were calculated in January, Harrison Twp. was among four communities in Montgomery County that had their overall values drop.

But between tearing down the dilapidated properties and the new construction, township officials hope to spur an economic boost.

RELATED: Montgomery County property values rebound from historic drop

Restaurant Depot, which sells groceries and equipment to the food service industry, should bring in an initial 40 people and on track to open before the end of the year.

Restaurant Depot already has stores in most major cities in the state — Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Akron — and picked Harrison Twp. for its future store in the Dayton market.

“It means a great deal for Harrison Twp. in that we have not in the past seen a lot of new construction,” Spaugy said.

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