Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Overview of the Defense Edge City

Though there’s development at exits along the entire freeway the northern legs of I-675 have developed at enough of an intensity to be called an edge city, though maybe not strictly to Joel Garreau's definition.

This is the Dayton Region’s “Defense Edge City”.


Since the 20 mile rule requires defense contractors doing business at Wright-Patterson AFB to locate near the base a defense industry cluster has developed in the region
Developers responded by creating a number of office parks and individual buildings near Wright Patterson AFB

And since a lot of defense business is outside the area, too, hotels sprang near the offices for travelers doing work with the military/contractors. The Air Force Museum is another draw for out-of-town visitors.

Finally, as military contractor personnel relocated to the area to be near work, massive retail developments arose, particularly the Fairfield Commons Mall, but also developments across from Wright State.

Combine all this with the base and adjacent Wright State University and one has an impressive cluster of activity.

Given the significance of defense spending in the local economy this has become arguably the most important business district in the region. The Defense Edge City is actually increasing in significance due to fading of manufacturing and with more defense work coming to the area The 11,000 new defense jobs the DDC is trying to generate for the area will most likely be located in this edge city or adjacent development nodes.


The first developments occurred in the wedge of land between Colonel Glenn Highway and I-675, but recent activity has extended south of I-675, and now west, with the very large “Mission Point” development. Perhaps the evolution of this area is worth further study.

The driver for all the development is, of course, the Air Force. Though the base dates to the 1920s the new labs and offices follow a modern campus concept,, so the appearance is similar to college campus or corporate office park environment. Though these pix show men in uniform the reality is that a lot of on-base R&D work is actually done by contractors, frequently retired or separated military.
The western edge of the edge city has grab bag of use: older office buildings at Signal Hill, big box retail, lots of multifamily housing, and some vacant area near that Meijer. The big new development, though it going to be Mission Point.
Miller-Valentine has a fairly ambitious plan for this property (“Mission” in this case means military mission, not the California colonial one). This could be a major extension to the edge city if it is built as planned. Also, note that it is just across the county line in tax-free Beavercreek. One should also note, that the area north of I-675 is in Fairborn, which means a city income tax.
(you’ll have to click on the graphic to read the blurb from the M-V website)

The midsection of the Edge City between roughly Grange Hall Road and the Mall.

The big developments today are happening south of I-675 (to the left in the pix) with the Pentagon Park complex. The Acropolis was the first mover here, being built in the 1990s, after the Fairfield Mall opened up the area. Clark State College from Springfield has recently opened a branch campus in this area as has the DeVry tech school. There looks to be some undeveloped land on New Germany-Trebein Road (which will be renamed Pentagon Park Boulevard), but one can see the area is getting close to build-out.

All this land, south of I-675, is in Beavercreek, so there are no city income taxes, a good marketing point.

The Colonel Glenn Highway strip, up is east, bottom is west.

The first development here was Wright State University (WSU), in the mid/late 1960s. built on land in part donated by the Air Force. There wasn’t any additional development until the 1980s, perhaps late 1970s. The area had to wait for the final approval of funding for I-675 before large scale development could be viable..

One can see the Wright Executive Park along I-657, and retail and food development next to it along Colonel Glenn. This was the first area to really develop in a major fashion,, with strip centers and large office buildings, though the customer base here is also WSU to some extent.

The old country village of “New Germany” is denoted by the dashed line…the fragmented land holdings here means the visual impression on the ground is a bit chaotic, unlike the big box/strip center/office park world immediately to the east.

WSU keeps the land open along Colonel Glenn, but the modernist architecture of the campus makes it blend in as it looks like a big office park. Nutter Center, though built for athletics, is the big concert venue for name-brand pop music acts, like Cher, Rascal Flatts and so forth.

In the background one can see the expansion of the Fairfield Commons mall district southward along Fairfield road to Kemp Road.

A look at developers plans for Pentagon Park, offices and a hotel, and a note on how its expanding to add new offices. This has pretty much been completed as planned
Heading east a bit on I-675. Valle Greene is a less intense development, but making a bid for the defense contractor market, with office space on the freeway, and also some to the south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road (to the left on the pix).


And a pix of what some of this looks like on the ground. One could do this with most of these contractors, which would make an interesting study of changing spec office styles as this area evolved.

Next, maybe a look at the Research Park, which is the southern limit of the defense –driven development, and also perhaps some morphological analyese of office parks and strip centers, and classification of restaurants and nightspots for the business lunch/happy hour scene.

4 comments:

JafaBrit's Art said...

Great post. I think the Valle Greene area is very attractive and a lot of new buildings are popping up there.

Anonymous said...

I think that the best thing the City of Dayton could do for itself in the effort to be a part of the New Economy Edge City would be to find a way to connect Research Park with the University of Dayton in the south through the Watervliet connector; and to connect Tech Town (once it gets off the ground) to the Riverside Defense Community along Springfield Street. There are dots along the way just outside the City limits (MTC for example on Linden Ave in Riverside). Say it with me, Research Triangle.

Jeffrey said...

Oh, I think Valle Greene is a PUD , aka "planned unit development", so there is going to be a visual consistency in the way that property is developed.

Lynn said...

Thanks for your blog. I don't live in Dayton but I had to do a report on it and your blog helped give a better perspective.