$165 million project bringing new retail life still saddens environmentalists


Photo: Ann Levett

Chick-fil-a soon to open and is a part of Cornerstone of Centerville

Last year, a small woodland area in Centerville near the southeast edge of Kettering was demolished and a Costco Wholesale store was the first new inhabitant. Although this project is promising to bring new retail life to the area, some question whether sacrificing the green space and wildlife that lived on the acreage surrounding the former Dille family estate is worth it. 

George Oberer, Head of Oberer Construction Company, thinks so. As the developer, he is thrilled about the new retailers coming to the area. Construction on the project has been ongoing for the past year as Costco opened last fall. As soon as winter ended, workers ramped up their activity.

“In addition to Costco, the building out there now on Wilmington Pike will be a small strip shopping mall that will be 10,000 square feet and will include a restaurant chain new to this area called Bagger Dave’s,” Oberer said.

Oberer describes Bagger Dave’s as a “burger tavern” that will offer gourmet hamburgers and carry an array of draft beers. Along with Bagger Dave’s, that same building will be home to a Domino’s, a Total Nutrition Center, and an AT&T store.

“Immediately south of there will be a Chick-fil-A, which is also under construction,” he said.

On the hard corner of Wilmington Pike and Feedwire Road will be another restaurant new to the area – Cheddar’s.

“Cheddar’s is a family restaurant and a higher quality sit-down kind of restaurant which will include no drive-through,” he said.

There will be a new drive-in coming to the area, along with another building. “We also have a Charles Drive-In that is under construction right now,” Oberer said. “There will be another 10,000 square-foot building that our company will own and those buildings inside there will include a Mattress Firm, Great Clips and a Wright-Patt Credit Union.”

There is another new restaurant coming, and the closest of it’s chain is at Kings Island. “You will see a building under construction on the east side of the development up against I-675,” he said. “One more new restaurant coming to the area is a casual Chinese restaurant called Panda Express.”

They also have more plans for the area. “We do have a plan for Phase 3 and we have contracts with a retail user,” Oberer said. “There are a couple more that I can’t say yet because they haven’t signed a contract.”

Oberer also gave us a small view of the project that some people may not know. “The entire project consists of 156 acres on the north side and the total value will be up to the $120-$160 million dollar value.”

The project will be a very long process he noted. “I think the project is on schedule, we are almost sold out on the retail sites for Phases 1, 2 and 3. The community when fully built will be a 10- to 12-year project, and will bring about 2,800 jobs to the area.”

While this project will clearly have an economic impact on the community, many are worried about the environmental impact.

Abby Ryberg, Biology and Environmental Science teacher at Fairmont is among those who were sad to see the loss of green space, particularly so close to the Sugarcreek Reserve area.

“I do think it’s very unfortunate that they took one of the last wild areas in this region,” she said. “I felt the same way when they built The Greene. I just have a really hard time with it. I don’t think that the development was completely necessary, and it does make me sad.”

Ryberg recognizes the amount of jobs that it will provide along with the different shopping opportunities for people.  Many seem to be sad about the loss of greenery, yet they still take advantage of the shopping.

“I have close family members that even though they are equally as sad, they still go shopping there and they’re regular shoppers at Costco; but I still just see so much value in the big picture of having wild areas,” she said.

With the lack of plant life in the area, people have also noticed a lack of space for wildlife. “I’ve heard a lot from the people in the surrounding area that they’ve seen wildlife come into their gated backyards. I just think ultimately if we do enough of those small clear cuts (of green space), it’s going to have a dramatic effect and we’re seeing those effects worldwide in general,” she cautions.

According to Ryberg,  Bellbrook and Sugarcreek park districts have put time and energy into trying to preserve as much land as possible since it was owned by one single family. “They did end up selling almost all of that to the development, but behind that is some land that the park district now owns,” she said. 

Ryberg said if anyone opposes such development of green space, she hopes “that they stick to their guns and next time this happens in this area or their hometown that they would put up a fight to preserve it.”