XENIA —The City of Xenia is in talks to bring a family entertainment center to town.
At Thursday’s City Council meeting, council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Creative Entertainment Concepts, Inc., to explore redeveloping the former Fulmers grocery store into the center.
CEC, based in Indianapolis, specializes in redeveloping vacated facilities into such centers. At a cost of $15,000 CEC will conduct a two-day on-site assessment, provide a feasibility study, and develop a preliminary floor plan, estimated construction cost, redevelopment budget and operating pro forma.
The company — which has already been out to the site multiple times on its own — is recommending a 14-lane bowling alley, laser tag, an arcade, a party/banquet area and sports bar, which would include outdoor seating, for the nearly 30,000 square foot building, which has been vacant since July 2010.
“If I could do backflips down here I would,” said councilman Dale Louderback. “This has been a long time coming. I think this is a great, great, great opportunity for the city.”
CEC is in direct negotiations with R&B Investments, the building owner, to establish a lease or sale arrangement. City Manager Brent Merriman said to his knowledge nothing has been signed yet but both sides are finding the terms amenable.
Construction could begin as early as the winter if everything is approved, according to a timeline provided to the city. But before that happens a plethora of funding will need to be secured.
“It’s going to require private investment into our community,” said council vice-president Joshua Long.
CEC Managing Partner David Beauregard said his company can also look at bringing a movie theater to the adjacent building, which was most recently a Kmart, which could spark more revitalization of the downtown Xenia area.
“We’re hopeful it will result in some positive development,” City Manager Brent Merriman said. “We think this will be a catalyst for hopefully some substantial redevelopment. It ought to really boost business in that entire shopping center.”
Councilman John Caupp said the proposed center could also lead to more restaurants.
“Anytime we can bring this type of entertainment into our city and people utilize it, they have to eat somewhere,” he said.
If both come to fruition it will allow Xenians to stay in town for a good time. That isn’t always the case now.
“When we want to go to a movie we go to Beavercreek,” Louderback said. “When we want to go bowling, we go to Beavercreek.”
The city would be reimbursed half of the expenditure if a lease agreement for use of the facility is completed. If this proposal falls through, the city would retain all the work performed by CEC to potentially use at another time.
• In other council news, an emergency appropriation of $51,120 was approved to cover Dayton Power & Light charges for the old Simon Kenton Elementary School building.
The city has previously estimated between $40 and $50 a month to cover electricity in the building. However when DP&L performed its yearly reading in July, the city was invoiced more than $33,000. A second reading produced the same result.
The appropriation will cover the current amount due and fund the account to cover the remainder of 2014.
Merriman said the city has hired a local electric contractor to assess the building and potentially explain the jump in costs. That led to some discussions about what to do with the building as the city tries to find a suitable owner/tenant. A 6-month moratorium on the building’s demolition was put in place in May, which expires Nov. 26.
Caupp reiterated he has been on record that the building is a “money pit” and won’t support another moratorium.
• As expected, council approved an agreement between the city and WA Hammond Drierite for the use of the “blue building” on the former Hooven & Allison property for material storage.
The company’s main materials supplier is going out of business and WA Hammond Drierite was able to purchase many year’s worth of materials and needs a place for storage. In exchange for using the property, the company has agreed to provide mowing and maintenance at the site.
Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.