CRE Consulting Corps: Making a Difference in Fairborn, Ohio

June 2016

"We had a lot of energy and ideas, but we really needed an objective analysis and a fresh perspective."
Dan Kirkpatrick, Mayor, City of Fairborn, Ohio

“The report is a strategic action plan. It’s a roadmap that contains achievable, affordable action steps to continue to enhance Fairborn and its assets.”   
Pete Bales, Interim City Manager, City of Fairborn 

Client: Like many American cities that experienced decades of growth post-World War II, Fairborn, Ohio, (pop. 33.000) began to stagnate in the 1970s. Completion of I-675 bypassed the city, deterring customers for local businesses. Meanwhile, the nearby town of Beavercreek (closer to a highway interchange) grew, with newer housing, schools and shopping centers. Fairborn city officials, engaged the CRE Consulting Corps to create a revitalization strategy.

Challenge: City leaders had already identified potential redevelopment sites but agreed they needed fresh perspective. The assignment began as a request to analyze the obsolete Skyway Retail Center and make recommendations for its redevelopment. The project changed dramatically, however, once the team met with stakeholders onsite in Fairborn and viewed the property and the city.

Skyway Retail Center redevelopment was the original focus.
Skyway Retail Center redevelopment was the original focus.

Aerial view of Fairborn, Ohio.

Assessment: The team reviewed market data and conducted interviews with 20 government, business and community leaders. A SWOT analysis revealed Fairborn’s strengths, including excellent medical services, proximity to Wright Patterson Air Force Base (largest employer in the state), the Air Force Museum, and Wright State University which has 19,000 students. The city is also pro-growth, progressive and business-friendly. An eclectic mix of retail and service businesses line downtown streets, in historic buildings with new streetscaping. However, lack of investment and economic development in recent decades was a decided weakness, and lack of convenient public transit limits easy access to Fairborn’s amenities from the Air Force base, museum or university. Ultimately, the team expanded the project’s scope to include downtown Fairborn and an area adjacent to the university.


"The report is a strategic action plan, it's a roadmap that contains achievable, affordable action steps to continue to enhance Fairbprn and its assets."
Pete Bales, Interim City Manager, City of Fairborn 


Downtown - a mix of unique businesses in a historic setting.

Recommendations: The team provided short-and longer-term goals for the city. The team suggested immediate action to address Fairborn’s central business district, including strengthening its downtown business association and dedicating resources to promote the history of Fairborn and celebrate its unique shops and businesses. The team’s strategy also emphasized identifying the central business district as a “destination,” building on the new business incubator. They advised active partnership with the Air Force base and Wright State University, creating activity-based entertainment venues and establishing a motorized trolley to enhance access to downtown. As for the Skyway Retail Center: the team believed a Citizen Services, Health and Wellness Center would be a successful development and provide a convenient concentration of services.

Longer-term, the team prioritized redevelopment of several other targeted sites and made recommendations for each, identifying commercial and residential opportunities, including mixed-use, hospitality, retail, and student housing.


After implementing the team's recommendations, "we've seen vacancy in our downtown go from 10 vacant spots to 1 in about year and a half."

Rob Anderson, City Manager, Fairborn Ohio



Team: The team was led by David McCoy, CRE, Kamuela, Hawaii (center). Panelists (L to R) were Swain Chapman, CRE, Chapman Management Group, Tucson, Ariz.; Thomas Shircliff, CRE, Intelligent Buildings, Charlotte, N.C., David Lane, CRE, Lane Property Advisors, Kelowana, B.C.; Canada; and Demetrios Louziotis, Jr., CRE, Pavonis Group, Madison, N.J.