Melody Parks: Work starts on retail and housing called one of city’s largest projects

$400 million plan mixes restaurant, retail and 1,200 housing units on the city’s east side, but detractors remain.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Construction crews are moving dirt in part of the 400-acre Melody Parks master planned community on Springfield’s east side, with developers promising to start housing sales this summer.

The $400 million Melody Parks development is expected to result in more than 1,200 housing units over the next several years, offering a mixture of single-family, multi-family and for-rent patio-style homes and apartments.

Space also is planned for retail and commercial uses in a development that will include ponds and walking trails.

This is one of the single largest projects in Springfield’s history,” Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said in a release. “It combines a mix of commercial restaurant and retail as well as a variety of residential options that are needed in our community.”

The project is not without controversy, however, with Springfield Twp. trustees and Clark-Shawnee Local School District objecting to parts of the plan. The district believes Melody Parks will result in hundreds more students in their district without adequate funding to the schools.

Clark-Shawnee has filed two legal challenges, arguing oversight actions by Clark County government to remove members of the CEDA Regional Planning Commission retroactively and set aside a vote against part of the Melody Parks project were improper.

Named after the former Melody Cruise-In Theatre, which was on the land, the project is being co-developed by Borror and Dillin Corp., both Ohio-based businesses with experience in large projects. The Greater Springfield Partnership (GSP) and its Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) are working with Borror and Dillin in a limited partnership called 40 Partners LLC.

The project will be along U.S. Route 40 east of Bird Road and including area around Nextedge park. It also is less than 2 miles west of Interstate 70, and developers said the location between Columbus and Dayton makes it ideal for those who commute to nearby cities for work.

The CIC owns about 200 acres of the 400 acres planned for the project and will sell that to 40 Partners as builders contract for residential lots, according to Horton Hobbs, the GSP’s vice president for economic development.

“We are more of a ‘silent’ partner and contributor of land to the development,” Hobbs said.

Melody Parks will be a catalyst for growth not only in Springfield, but the entire region, according to Heck.

“We have been successful in attracting new industry and businesses, which has led to an increase in population,” the city manager said. “This in turn has led to the need for additional housing opportunities, as well as commercial retail and restaurant amenities.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Housing options

Melody Parks will include a range of housing options, planned to be staggered over a period of time, developers said.

Arbor Homes will build new houses that will range from 1,200 to 3,200 square feet, offer a variety of floor plans and include features like walk-in closets, gourmet kitchens, large family rooms, open floor plans and two-car garages.

One section of the development, called The Estates at Melody Parks, will feature semi-custom homes by Fischer Homes. Those homes will range from 2,000 to more than 4,000 square feet and also offer a variety of floor plans that include basements and have many options to choose from like gourmet kitchens, grand open floor plans and three-car garages.

A three-story apartment community planned to open in 2025 will offer a pool, private clubhouse and onsite gym, developers said. The apartments will feature modern living spaces with appliances.

In 2026, a mix of single-story one- and two-bedroom apartments will be available. Developers said the patio homes would be good for active adults or empty nesters looking to downsize. The pet-friendly community will offer “comforts of a luxurious single-family home with premium amenities, maintenance-free living and a wonderful social atmosphere,” the release said.

Parks, ponds and trails

Melody Parks is expected to have 15 park areas, a half-dozen ponds and several walking trails that weave through the neighborhoods.

Hobbs said the GSP and CIC will help with the amenities.

“Our intent is to provide funding, through the proceeds of our land sales, for upgraded amenities (fountains, decorative lighting and signage) throughout the development,” Hobbs said.

The development will include streets such as Coppola Court and Hitchcock Drive to honor some Hollywood greats and pay tribute to the Melody drive-in.

“The 400-acre site has been intentionally designed to breathe new life into the Springfield community, while still paying homage to the area’s rich history in film and entertainment,” developers said in the release.

Borror is a development, construction and management company with 60 years of experience, mostly in central Ohio, where it has built more than 15,000 places to live. This is the company’s first Clark County project.

Borror has built mid-rise apartments, multi-use buildings and senior living facilities, among others.

“Borror has been an excellent community partner from the beginning,” Heck said.

He credited the company’s communication and ability to work collaboratively on solutions to move the project forward.

Dillin provides experience in master-planned, mixed-use community place making, and specializes in integrating developments into surrounding neighborhoods. Dillin is focused on the commercial aspect of Melody Parks, Hobbs said.

Controversy and lawsuits

Clark-Shawnee has two lawsuits pending in Clark County Common Pleas Court.

Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn on Tuesday said: “The matters remain before the court, and we are awaiting their ruling.”

The first alleges the CEDA Regional Planning Commission violated open meetings laws with its early November meeting.

At that meeting, Clark County Development Director J. Alex Dietz said three board members vacated their seats due to attendance policy violations and the chair resigned his position. Dietz said land allocated for Melody Parks, therefore, was automatically approved because the resignations brought the previous majority vote to deny the land to 2-2. A tie vote meant no action was taken, and with no action within 30 days of the request, CEDA policy required automatic approval, Dietz said.

Clark Shawnee asked for an injunction to stop the commission from taking any action, for the court to compel the board to comply with the Ohio Open Meetings Act and to forfeit $500 and pay court costs and attorney fees.

In late November, Clark-Shawnee filed a second lawsuit against the CEDA commission, saying one of its members did not live in the area that she represented during an October meeting to vote on land for Melody Parks. CEDA was designed to include representatives of Springfield Twp. and the city of Springfield.

Kuhn said then the Clark County representatives for the CEDA Regional Planning Commission are required to either live in Springfield or Springfield Twp., but a member lived in Moorefield Twp. and her vote should have been negated. He said with the “retroactive removal” of three board members who violated attendance policy and the subsequent nullification of their previous votes, he believes the other member’s vote should be negated as well.

The district had hoped for an injunction that would have temporarily prevented work, but that did not happen, Kuhn said. Even if the cases are successful, the CEDA board could later approve the project properly, he said.

“Our message from the beginning has been the right things need to be done the right way,” Kuhn said.

Clark-Shawnee supports development, he said, but not without the tax revenue to support additional students.

Kuhn said no additional talks have happened with the school district, city officials or the developers regarding Melody Parks. He believes all sides are waiting to see what ruling comes from the court filings.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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