Contractors are working to tear down the sprawling former Defense Electronics Supply Center (DESC) building in the Kettering Business Park, and an Amazon last-mile distribution center that will bring hundreds of jobs could open soon.
Kettering City Council has approved an agreement to sell three Kettering Business Park parcels totaling 14.2 acres to TW Development Group of Cincinnati, the project’s developer, for $210,001. The city will reimburse the developer up to $1.1 million for demolition of a 200,000 square-foot warehouse on the northeast side of the property.
TW Development already owns the similar-sized building immediately to the west, and that is where the Amazon facility would be located, according to city officials, with the demolition site becoming parking and truck bay areas.
Kettering Economic Development Manager Gregg Gorsuch said TW will put $8.5 million into renovating the building for Amazon, and the other small businesses currently at one end of the building will remain there.
Jim McCarthy of TW Development said on Monday that demolition is underway.
“There is demolition going on at the 2,000 Composite building to accommodate the Amazon project,” he said. “Additionally, Amazon has a separate contractor doing some build out work, so that has begun. We are just now beginning the site work which will accommodate 750-plus parking spaces.”
The giant e-commerce retailer could start operations there late this summer, the city has said.
The O’Rourke Wrecking company of Cincinnati was hired to demolish the 9074 building, and the company is in the beginning stages of that.
“Things are moving along and, hopefully, we will have things done in the middle of July,” McCarthy said. “We are praying for good weather and for things to be as dry as possible for all of the work we have to do.”
He said structurally the buildings are sound but have been neglected for a long period of time.
“We haven’t run into any surprises - yet,” McCarthy said. “We are just working well with the city and keeping things moving in the right direction. I am optimistic about completing this project on time.”
Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the DESC facility, closed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, cost the area more than 2,500 jobs and left an environmental cleanup that was paid for by the military.
“From Kettering’s perspective they were a top five taxpayer,” Schwieterman said.
When it became clear the Air Force would not reverse the decision, “the region focused on redevelopment and putting a redevelopment plan in place,” Schwieterman said, adding that the city took the lead in the redevelopment effort and took ownership in 1996 of what is now the Kettering Business Park.
“They were also a regional major employer, and that is why the region responded,” he said.
There was a partnership with the Air Force, which had retained some parcels of land.
“They had to transfer parcels of land over time to us. And as the environmental cleanup of those parcels was completed, the deed was transferred to the city,” Schwieterman said. “We have all the deeds now – it was into the 2000s before that happened.”
The environmental cleanup was paid for by the Air Force and a redevelopment master plan (reuse plan) for the park was created in the mid-1990s by the region for commercial and light industrial use.
Schwieterman said the lesson the city has learned is “you cannot be reactive in the BRAC process. You must be proactive. That’s what this region does so well. And I think that’s why we continue to grow the missions at Wright-Patterson Air Force. The coalition is being pro-active, keeping their eye and making people aware that we have to be conscious of the base at all times.”
Most of those employees now located in the park are with Synchrony Financial. But Alternate Solutions Health Network has invested millions of dollars in its facilities at the site, and Kettering Health Network opened a command center there recently.
More stories by Lynn Hulsey and Wayne Baker
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