(Chicago) September 20, 2017–-Like many U.S. communities, Fairborn, Ohio saw population numbers flatten, then stall after decades of post-World War II growth. Nearby communities seemed to grow exponentially. The challenge was how to reinvigorate the city of 33,000 on a limited economic development budget. City officials tried an increasingly sought-after approach –assistance from The Counselors of Real Estate® (CRE) professional association. CRE’s Consulting Corps enlists teams of credentialed volunteer real estate advisors who donate their professional services to provide strategic action plans for municipalities, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.
According to Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick, the city needed a realistic revitalization plan – one that many different entities could support. “We had a lot of energy and ideas,” says Mr. Kirkpatrick, “but we really needed an objective analysis and a fresh perspective.”
Those who volunteer for CRE Consulting Corps teams are seasoned real estate advisors from a wide variety of property specialties. They are selected for experience matching the specific property challenge, and must reside outside the project’s market area, to ensure multiple unbiased viewpoints are applied to the issues.
The team recommended redevelopment options for the functionally obsolete and largely-abandoned Skyway Retail Center, the original scope of the CRE project. But the team made additional recommendations that focused on finances; downtown revitalization including transportation; new business generation; creative event organization; and strengthening relationships with leadership of the locally-based Wright State University and Wright Patterson Air Force Base to draw additional consumers to Fairborn.
The City agreed with the redevelopment recommendation of the Corps team for the Skyway site, and began purchasing portions of the property. It is now envisioned as a local services hub, clustering government and consumer offices together. The team also provided longer-term recommendations for five large targeted properties around the city, some of which are currently undeveloped.
“Fairborn has a lot of strengths,” Corps team leader David McCoy, CRE said. He is a Hawaii-based property consultant who has acted as a commissioner for the Third Circuit Court of Hawaii. “We spent a week in the city interviewing government officials, business owners and community leaders; reviewing local market data; analyzing the city’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities; and making initial assessments of possible paths the city could take. “
Nearly four years ago, Fairborn added a new city department to address economic development. In 2014, the City Council created a strategic plan with specific goals to boost business development. The Consulting Corps plan was the next step in determining direction and priorities.
“The report is a strategic action plan,” said Rob Anderson, Fairborn’s city manager. “It’s a roadmap that contains achievable, affordable action steps to continue to enhance Fairborn and its assets. With our proximity to Wright Patterson and Wright State University, as well as the city of Dayton, we have many strong qualities that make Fairborn very attractive to businesses and a place more people want to call home.” Four exits from major interstate highways can also serve to attract tourism.
The unique character of Fairborn’s downtown, where a number of public events are already held throughout the year, was highlighted as a “placemaking” opportunity. “We felt the downtown district, with its mix of businesses and restaurants in historic buildings, could become even more of a “destination”—a memorable place that attracts visitors and provides unique customer experiences. This is achievable with planning and promotion,” Mr. McCoy said.
In addition to Mr. McCoy, the team included experts from New Jersey, North Carolina, Arizona, and British Columbia who specialize in property investment, land use, adaptive reuse, historic renovation, sustainability, risk management and technology. While team members donate their professional expertise and time to Consulting Corps assignments, Corps clients cover travel expenses plus a small administrative cost.
The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), established in 1953, is an international professional organization whose members, admitted by invitation, provide objective, reliable advice and counsel on matters affecting all forms of real property in the United States and abroad. Members of The Counselors include ranking representatives of real estate, financial, legal and accounting firms as well as leaders of government and academia, all of whom, upon admission, are credentialed as CREs (Counselors of Real Estate). There are just 1,100 CRE members in the world. Through The CRE Consulting Corps, CRE members volunteer their time and professional advisory services to solve complex real estate problems for municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations as a way to give back to the world community.
About the City of Fairborn
The City of Fairborn, established in 1950, is home to just over 33,000 residents, and also Wright State University, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio’s largest single site employer. Fairborn has been associated with progress and cutting-edge technology. The City’s redevelopment and growth has resulted in a broad array of businesses and retail services. Fairborn’s favorable location, business advocacy groups and involved citizens have made it a vibrant cultural and economic center that affords endless opportunities.
For more information, contact The Counselors of Real Estate, 430 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611; 312/329.8427; https://cre.org