WEST CARROLLTON — The planned river district along the Great Miami River took another step toward reality with the recent approval of an agreement between the city of West Carrollton and a developer.
Under the agreement between the city and Woodard Development, Woodard is the “contractor at risk” for public improvements such as roads and other infrastructure that will be constructed just west of the Exit 47 interchange on Interstate 75. Those improvements are set to precede a multiphase, mixed-used river district development, to include multiple restaurants, retail, a small watercraft marina, 26 high-end townhome condominiums, a 214-unit apartment project, a hotel and a medical office building, “What that means is that they will arrange for the design, the engineering and manage the construction of the project in exchange for a 5% fee of what the total project budget would be,” City Manager Brad Townsend said during West Carrollton City Council’s most recent meeting. All the public improvements will be designed up front, but only half of them are the improvements that are planned for the first phase of construction, Townsend said. Once the design is complete, the improvements will be bid out and a construction budget will be established, he said. “The city’s liability for that budget will be the lesser of what the actual budget is, or $2.5 million, and that is where the construction at risk comes in for the Woodard folks,” Townsend said. “In exchange for their 5% and management — they keep the project on schedule, hopefully it comes in under $2.5 million — but if it goes over $2.5 million, it’s their responsibility to pay that … so it’s kind of a win-win for both of us.” Woodard Development managing the project relieves city staffers to do other things, Townsend said.
Todd Duplain, a partner at Woodard Development, said what’s contemplated as the scope of the first phase of improvements will be the area of Dixie Drive and south. A second phase will include everything north of Dixie Drive, including Marina Drive to the river. “The intention here of all these public improvements is to create the first-class public infrastructure that includes sidewalks, landscaping, curb and gutter, mast arms for traffic signals and other improvements that kind of set the tone for everyone’s first impression into the river district,” Duplain told city council. “The goal is to create, quite frankly, an opening statement to everyone that will transform this property into a very inviting development.”
Part of the improvements will include sidewalks on both sides of Manchester Road, an extension of Manchester into the marina, rerouting a portion of the bike path and moving some of the electric poles, he said. The “most important and linchpin part” of the design process is a traffic impact study that will start this month, Duplain said. “Traffic engineers will look at this development, figure out what the daily traffic is that they anticipate, given our suspected uses, and they will design what needs to happen to particularly Manchester and/or Dixie from a control perspective,” he said. “Quite frankly, the traffic impact study takes a while. We have to get that right and none of the other phases can begin until we know exactly what the traffic impact study says.”
Civil design will start in August and geotechnical drilling to ensure the soils along Manchester and along Marina are appropriate will occur in October, Duplain said. Final design will be completed in February 2024 and the bidding process will be wrapped up that spring. Construction of the first phase of public improvements is expected to be completed by late fall 2024.