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Premier Health, University of Dayton Unveil New Name, Vision for Former Montgomery County Fairgrounds

By 10/01/2018October 3rd, 20183 Comments

DAYTON, Ohio, October 2, 2018 — The former Montgomery County fairgrounds has a new name and a new direction as a place that fosters imagination, innovation and inclusivity.

Premier Health and the University of Dayton today announced a new name for the 38 acres at the northwest corner of Main and Stewart streets — onMain: Dayton’s Imagination District — embodying a vision for the site as a place where Dayton’s history of innovation takes off into the future.

“The name represents the best of Dayton’s future as well as its history of innovation,” said University President Eric F. Spina. “It will be a platform to attract businesses and entrepreneurs to bring jobs and opportunities to the area as well as a sustainable and inclusive living environment with an emphasis on wellness.”

Appropriately, the name — onMain — emerged from focus groups and conversations with members of the Dayton community who helped brainstorm ways a new name might express the community’s aspirations for this important development, said Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health.

“The name marks the district’s location on Main Street, and is an invitation to live onMain, work onMain, learn onMain and meet onMain,” Boosalis said. “We envision a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development with a distinct identity and personality that is open, welcoming and creative and complements the rebirth and momentum of downtown Dayton.”

Boosalis and Spina said the long-term vision for the district will take up to 15 to 20 years to fully realize, with the partners committed to developing the 38 acres as a sustainable neighborhood for economic development. As anchor institutions, UD and Premier don’t have the profit and time pressures that typical developers do.

The two institutions’ long-term vision for the property allows for flexibility but reflects the input of more than 850 members of the community through the broad-based Fairgrounds to Future planning process. Key elements of the vision include:

  • A truly walkable urban neighborhood with places to work, live and gather.
  • A focus on creative, innovation and entrepreneurial activities and jobs — retail will be geared to serve those who live and work onMain. The district is not intended to be a retail and shopping destination.
  • Mixed-income housing that offers opportunities for residents to live close to where they work.
  • Design standards for buildings that integrate environmental sustainability and wellness, reflecting the mission and values of the two institutions.
  • onMain’s employers, entertainment venues and housing will draw a diverse mix of people who are representative of the broader Dayton community and its vibrant neighborhoods.
  • onMain’s initial phase will focus on creating a critical mass of employment, housing, retail, and other uses at the south end of the site along Main Street.
  • Urban agriculture would be located on land at the western end of the site and on building rooftops.
  • Restoration of the property’s historic Roundhouse.
  • A “catalytic” building would be built at the northwest corner of Stewart and Main streets to spur development.


“The vision for onMain is transformative for Dayton,” said Jamie Greene, principal of planning NEXT, the planning firm hired to lead the process that culminated in the vision. “It is unlike any place in the region or the state, for that matter, with the integration of innovation-oriented employment opportunities, unique housing choices, active community gathering spaces and easy access to the river, bike trails and the core of downtown.


“Many communities — larger and smaller than Dayton — have significant anchor institutions, but few are providing this type of commitment and leadership. The University of Dayton and Premier Health leaned into the planning process over the past year and are now leaning into deliberate and thoughtful implementation actions,” he said.

As is typical with large, complex development projects that involve many community partners, a complete transformation of the property will occur in phases.

Premier Health and the University are taking steps to create a nonprofit development organization to manage the development process and provide day-to-day oversight of the property.

The two institutions purchased the 38-acre site in 2017 and have been working on a long-range vision for the property that builds upon their institutional missions and values, promotes economic development, and fosters a unique sense of place that serves broad community interests.

Outreach to potential funding sources has begun, a process that is likely to take at least 12 to 24 months before any new construction might occur on the property. Such partnerships could fund initial phases of the redevelopment, including roadways, utilities, water and sewer, and removal of some structures.



Cilla Shindell | University of Dayton | | 937-367-2889

Ben Sutherly | Premier Health | | 937-524-3264

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski says:

    Is there any sense that there is an influence of the Catholic Marianist identity within the space, or, is it purely a secular space. I think it is an important space with so much happening within the urban community with the Catholic Community declining, couldn’t there be something about this space that would connect with our Catholic Marianist identity. Just a thought.

  • John Saurine says:

    If the $ is not there then the pause should be “electric” with close stats on how the sections are developing and integrated into fundraising. The people in each section including the city of Dayton should feel like they are contributing not waiting for handout or else innovation is lost to not taking responsibility.
    Very wise: our culture is changing rapidly: the cell phone with video and openness to sharing between men and women is powerful. It may change the norm of construction planners (maybe not totally one or two persons in the drawing room: more people; lot more work).
    The plans that are completed must be done in such a manner as to be removable to accommodate new views: always changeable, not finished in 2036 and that’s it! Viable, living, pregnant with “deep” listening to be current. This will bring other universities and business groups into it when they know they can be innovative. Even panels of adult/student groups could come for conferences and compete for use of community in a section. Of course they must understand the Mission/Vision Statement of Premier & UD (the City of Dayton’s Mission/Vision statement is important as well).
    Enough!!! Very wise , cautious beginning! Now, let the Sun rise!

  • hope taft says:

    Please make sure that the SITES and LEEDS process are followed so the site can be an example for other builders in the community to do construction in a sustainable manner.

    The plan looks like it calls for a great amount of hardscape that will change drainage patterns, harm the aquifer and create problems in the future.