UD grad eyes vacant Centerville site for dessert spot with retro twist



CENTERVILLE — Plans are in the works to turn a long-vacant site near Centerville’s Historic District into the first Dayton-area franchise of an Ohio-based business specializing in desserts.

Northmont High School and University of Dayton grad Jeffrey Neace is looking to open a Whit’s Frozen Custard on Ohio 48, a concept city officials say should work well with long-range plans for the area.

Neace said he wants to transform the vacant Marathon service station at 199 N. Main St. into a community gathering spot with a large outdoor area and vintage atmosphere.

Credit: STAFF

Credit: STAFF

“It’s going to be locally owned,” said Neace, a U.S. Army veteran living in Washington Twp. “And my big thing is trying to create a community asset that everyone can put their arms around.

“Bill’s Donuts has been around forever,” he added. “But everyone puts their arms around Bill’s…It takes time to develop that kind of situation.”

When completed – hopefully by next summer, Neace said - “it’s going to have a modern, retro feel to it” and add 10-15 jobs.

The site is within a mile of about 6,000 students in Centerville public and private schools, he said, and “we’re trying to make it very family friendly - that type of motif.”

Neace said he is developing plans for the franchise, which he was granted from the Granville-based company with more than 30 Ohio sites, nearly all of them in small towns. There is a Whit’s located in Lebanon.

But he has talked with Centerville officials, who said the revamped site should blend in well with city plans for historic district.

“The Uptown Action Plan calls for making Uptown a more walkable destination, and this location is within walking distance or a short drive for thousands of families,” Centerville Communications Director Kate Bostdorff said in an email.

“It complements the work planned for that area: thoughtfully redevelopment to create a more vibrant community while maintaining the unique historical feel,” she added.

Neace said he wants to have plans submitted to the city in about a month. He’s working with a contractor who helped develop The Dublin Pub, Jimmie’s Ladder 11 in Dayton, as well as Archers Tavern in Centerville.

The concept will include “deconstructing” the inside of the 1,800 square foot structure that has been vacant for more than four years, he said.

The bay garage doors will stay and lead to umbrella tables on a patio that will occupy more square footage than the building, Neace added.



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