Montgomery County Fair officials have narrowed their search for a new location to three undisclosed sites around the county, John Friedline, president of the county Agricultural Society Board, said Tuesday.
None of that land is in Dayton or in Brookville, the last named location for a new fair site.
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Friedline said the fair board is closely reviewing the sites, all of which feature a minimum of 100 acres. That would allow the fair to expand and offer more space for its events.
“We are down to three locations, but we don’t want to disclose them now,” Friedline said. “We are doing our due diligence to figure out where we want to go.”
Friedline also said tentative dates have been targeted for competitive bidding to purchase the current 37-acre fair site on South Main Street in Dayton.
Fair board reps will meet with officials from the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and Montgomery County Port Authority this week to discuss a request for proposals from bidders. The fairgrounds is owned by Montgomery County.
A request for bids is a departure from how the fair board has tried to market the fairgrounds. For two years, it worked with developer Miller-Valentine, which planned a project dubbed “Midtown.” The fair was thought to be moving to the Northbrook Industrial Park in Brookville, allowing the fairgrounds to be redeveloped into a commercial property with offices, restaurants, entertainment destinations, apartments and condominiums.
But a deal did not materialize and Miller-Valentine’s option expired in January.
The county and Agricultural Society plan to send out requests for bids in mid-May. Friedline said the intention is to pre-qualify bidders. No minimum bid has been set, and the fair board is researching a minimum figure necessary to move the fair and build at a new location.
Figures that have been discussed over the past two years have been between $17 million and $20 million, but with a rising real estate market, it’s unclear what the ground could sell for, or what it would cost to move the fair.
David Dickerson, Dayton market president for Miller-Valentine, said his firm intends to submit a bid based on what it knows now about a potential sale.
Dickerson said Miller-Valentine assembled more than $19 million for the relocation and sale, but added costs associated with the Brookville site pushed the desired sale figure beyond what had been raised.
“We were not in a position to provide added funding,” he said. But, he added, “we have been involved in the process for two-plus years, so we have a lot of time and energy committed with raising funds. We have an interest in taking the project forward.”
Officials hope to be able to open bids by late July, Friedline said, and it’s hoped that a buyer will take possession of the fairgrounds on Nov. 1.
What is certain is that the Montgomery County Fair will stay at its current home this summer, with the 2016 fair dates scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.
Friedline said the board needs to have the fairgrounds vacated of tenants and public events by Oct. 1, unless the board and the county don’t receive viable proposals to redevelop the land.
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