West Carrollton River District project’s infrastructure work starts in June

The first steps are on the old Roberds store site, immediately southwest of Interstate 75′s Exit 47

West Carrollton is set to launch the first phase of infrastructure efforts for a new multimillion-dollar River District, a project expected to create hundreds of jobs and attract more than 100,000 visitors to the area each year.

The development is set to include dining and retail options, along with apartments, condominiums, a hotel and a medical office. Before any of that can become a reality, infrastructure must be constructed, including road improvements on Manchester Road, utility upgrades and a retention pond, among other items, according to city spokeswoman Cheryl Dillin.

That work is set to start in the middle of this month as part of an already-designed and funded first phase estimated at $1 million, city officials said.

West Carrollton City Council is set to vote June 11 on “Phase 1A” for the site, a $160,000 funding request for design of a “spine” road across the 1100 E. Dixie Drive property near Manchester Road, immediately southwest of the Exit 47 interchange of Interstate 75. City officials say the road is critical for land sales.

“That starts to set the tone for our district,” said Mike Lucking, West Carrollton’s economic development director, who retired Friday. “What that’s going to do is take the larger property, the (former) Roberds property, and bisect that pretty much down the middle, which allows us then to start to subdivide the properties and sell off individual parcels for use” on both sides of the 10-acre property.

The city hopes to go to bid for a contract on that project in the fourth quarter of 2024, with construction starting in the first quarter of 2025 and wrapping up in late spring of that year, Dillin said.

Lucking said he could not provide details about any potential property sales, but noted that the site has generated “some pretty significant interest” from purchasers. He said it would be premature to say what kinds of users have been interested.

“The retail that existed there went back 50 years ago,” Lucking said. “It was old, it was tired, it was time for it to come down. (As a result of this new project) it’ll take on a whole new look. We’re taking some really tired properties and doing something transformational with them.”

A second phase of construction could start as early as the first quarter of 2025, city officials said. It would include improvements along Marina Drive adjacent to the Great Miami River, including burying power lines and creating a few new roadways, prior to the construction of 20 or so multi-story townhouses oriented toward the river.

Lucking said city officials believe the project will be “lifestyle-driven” because of the planned water activities and the bikeway that passes through the area.

“So somebody that’s looking for a nice lifestyle place to reside, if you’re into water sports or you’re into bike riding, (it’ll be a) great place to live and plus, you’re adjacent to the highway (and) there’d be restaurants in close proximity,” he said.



That side of the River District would feature white-tablecloth restaurants for fine dining, while the other side of it near the former Roberds property would include fast-casual dining options, Lucking said.

The whitewater park will feature kayaking, river surfing, a “lazy river” option and more.

“We intend to have temporary docking available,” he said. “It’ll be seasonal, but people are paddling or they’re on a kayak and (they’ll) be able to pull up, tie off their boat and hopefully enjoy some of our restaurants that will be there.”

An estimated $70 million will be invested into the River District and Whitewater Adventure Park. Of that amount, $23.8 million will go toward creating the whitewater park, including $10 million for a river surfing and operations center, $7.5 million for a recreation channel/flume, $5.1 million for dam safety reconstruction efforts and nearly $1.2 million for final design and construction management.

About a third of design drawings for the project are expected to be completed by the end of July, with final detailed design set for August.

Approximately $4 million in grant funding has been allocated to date for the whitewater park’s river improvements.

Funding for that phase thus far includes a Department of Housing and Urban Development Economic Development Initiative (HUD-EDI) grant ($3 million), a Montgomery County Economic Development Grant ($750,000) and a State Capital Grant ($250,000).

West Carrollton is working with federal, state and local leaders to garner additional funding for the whitewater park, requesting $3 million in Community Project Funding grants on the federal level and $2 million from the state of Ohio via its capital budget bill.

The city is targeting the third quarter of 2025 for the completion of final design for the whitewater park and permitting, then begin dam safety reconstruction efforts in the fourth quarter of 2025, the first step in the construction process.

Lucking said that when it comes to a project of this size and scope “redevelopment’s not easy.”

“I know people get frustrated and think, ‘Well, they’re not doing anything,’” he said. “There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of work that goes into getting it to the point where you’ve got a good product to present.”

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

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