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Former department store to be converted into $10M commercial office development

By   –  Senior Reporter, Dayton Business Journal

A former big box store at a Dayton-area mall will be converted into a commercial office building, continuing a recent trend by shopping centers to bring in a more diverse tenant base.

Washington Prime Group, the Columbus-based company that owns two malls in the region, and prominent local developer Synergy & Mills Development, have reached an agreement to bring a new commercial office development to The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek.

The more than $10 million project, called "The Meridian," will see Synergy redevelop a two-story, 150,000-square-foot space that formerly housed an Elder-Beerman department store at the mall, which is owned by Washington Prime. The office will join other developments in and around Fairfield Commons, including retail stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels.

Synergy’s office conversion plans will provide for major renovations to the interior and exterior of the building, including a "modern, innovative design to the project that reflects the leading-edge technological work done in the nearby Pentagon Corridor," the company says.

“The Meridian at Fairfield Commons is a capstone project for Synergy and the development we’ve been doing in this area for the past 25 years — the perfect blend of an amazing office environment and direct, walkable access to amenities for employees,” Synergy President and CEO Jerad Barnett said. “We talk constantly in our industry about the trend for experiential, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environments and the desire to 'work, shop and play' without having to jump in your car, and I can’t think of a location like this anywhere in the market that will offer such a large footprint to do so.”

Barnett told me the building is being converted on spec, meaning tenants have not been secured for the project thus far. However, he added they've been in discussions with potential tenants as recently as this week. Barnett said the office complex would be ideal for defense contractors given its proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, though he noted businesses in other industries could also find this to be an ideal space.

 

"I think we'll get a lot of defense contractors interested in this space, but we want to be fairly flexible," he said, adding medical offices and laboratories could be another possibility. "It will definitely be multiple tenants given its such a large footprint."

Current tenants at the former Elder-Beerman space include Mosaic Church and University Baptist Church, which located there at the beginning of 2021. Barnett said he wasn't sure when they would move out.

Synergy plans to begin construction to redevelop the existing building into office, laboratory, and research and development space starting in late 2021. Barnett said the goal is to have tenants operating in the building less than a year from now.

John Kopilchack, director of development for Synergy, said plans for The Meridian started last year when they toured the facility. After the tour he said they "began to dream about what this space could be."

“It has been maintained extremely well and with its open floor plans, high ceilings and most importantly, fantastic location and connectivity to the mall, we knew this was an extraordinary opportunity to do something special, not just for Beavercreek and the Pentagon Corridor, but for the entire Dayton region," Kopilchack said.

Matt Jurkowitz, vice president of development for Washington Prime, said they are excited by the opportunity to partner with Synergy on what he describes as "first-class office space" at Fairfield Commons.

"This project, once complete, will add a substantial number of people to the Fairfield Commons’ campus daily — people that will eat, play and shop at lunchtime and after the workday ends," Jurkowitz said. "This new traffic will benefit existing tenants and bolster Washington Prime Group’s ongoing efforts to position this thriving town center as the premier place to shop, eat, play and work in Beavercreek and the broader Pentagon Corridor.”

Synergy has been busy developing in the area surrounding Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. With this announcement, Synergy will be under construction or nearing so on 300,000 square feet of space in Beavercreek and Fairborn. This includes 63,000 square feet at Project Waterworks on National Road, 85,000 square feet at Project Promotum on Colonel Glenn Highway and 150,000 square feet at The Meridian at Fairfield Commons.

Barnett said these projects will result in over $50 million of investment by Synergy, "demonstrating our continued commitment to the Dayton region and to the many companies, individuals and entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses here and call this area home."

"From a timing standpoint, with the significant increase in construction prices we’ve seen in 2021 coupled with a lack of available materials, The Meridian is a strategic investment for Synergy that allows us to offer amazing space to the market faster and more affordable than any other development," he said. "The redevelopment of the former department store space is one of the most unique opportunities we’ve pursued at Synergy, and I’m incredibly excited for the transformation to begin.”

Fairfield Commons General Manager Leanne Rubosky said the mall is pleased to partner with Synergy to add "beautifully designed office space."

"We can’t wait to welcome all the workers who will be located in the redeveloped building to The Mall at Fairfield Commons to shop, dine and hang out, and we are proud to show off all the exciting things we have been working on during the past few years," Rubosky said.

These redevelopment efforts demonstrate Washington Prime Group’s commitment to the Dayton region while illustrating its mandate to diversify tenancy and further solidify Fairfield Commons as a "go-to gathering place" offering a mix of retail, dining, entertainment and mixed-use options.

Investments and improvements made at Fairfield Commons provide numerous benefits to the Beavercreek community and the greater Dayton region, including employment opportunities, amenities for area residents and the redevelopment of vacant facilities into economic drivers.

Columbus-based Washington Prime Group is a public company that specializes in retail REIT, providing ownership, management, acquisition and development of retail properties. In addition to Fairfield Commons, Washington Prime also owns the Dayton Mall in Miami Township.

Headquartered in Beavercreek, Synergy & Mills Development is a privately held construction and full-service real estate development company that focuses on the defense, medical, office and retail sectors.