New Melody Parks housing development pays homage to historic Melody Cruise-In Theatre

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- It’s one of the largest development projects in the history of Springfield, and it’s inspired by one of Springfield’s nostalgic pieces of history, the Melody Cruise-In Theatre. The new residential community, Melody Parks, will provide over 1,200 housing and rental units, commercial restaurants, retail spaces, and more. 

Arbor Homes will construct new 1,200 to 3,200 square foot homes, and Fischer Homes will construct semi-custom, 2,000 to 4,000 square foot homes. There will also be first-, second-, and third-floor apartments and patio homes. Parks, ponds, and walking trails help create a larger sense of community within the 400-acre development site. 

Ohio-based development, construction, and management company, Borror is one of the developers of Melody Parks, alongside Dillin Corp. Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck says this collaborative project will serve as a catalyst for the greater Springfield community. Given its location off Route 40, less than two miles west of I-70, Melody Parks can provide housing for those who commute to nearby cities like Columbus and Dayton for work.

One of the home styles that can be built in Melody Parks, in the Fischer Homes phase of the development.“Borror has been an excellent community partner from the beginning,” Heck says in a press release. “The key to successful relationships and partnerships is communication, and the City and Borror have been able to work collaboratively to develop solutions and strategies to effectively move this substantial project forward to the benefit of all in the community.”

President of Borror, Jeff Fontaine, says the residential land and infill housing company provides services for communities in and around Central Ohio. The Columbus company has done projects in Portsmouth, Lancaster, and now, Springfield. Although this is their first endeavor locally, several staff members at Borror have close ties to this community.

“We have team members who are very familiar with the Springfield market, having been Wittenberg University graduates. One of those is our CEO and my business partner, Lori Steiner, who is a graduate. There’s also (VP of Portfolio Management) Kaileigh Pickett who has been working on this project as well. It’s a lot of fun for them to have those local ties on this.”

An artist's rendering of the development.Fontaine says the proximity to the interstate lends to a more connected community, making Springfield a good location for this huge new development. As more manufacturing industries return to the Central Ohio area, including the lithium batteries and EV markets, and the LG plant, the need for more housing units for those new employees is crucial. Within the greater Springfield market, there hasn’t been a large-scale housing development project of this size in nearly 50 years, says Fontaine. 

“There’s been some great projects done in the last 5 to 10 years on a smaller scale of 50 to 100 homes here or there,” he says. “We really believe there was a pent-up demand for really good quality, large-scale housing opportunities for people to step up in the market. Whether that’s a quality standpoint or age and maintenance standpoint, we’re really excited to be able to deliver those opportunities that just don’t exist on a wide-scale range in the market today.”

As part of the cohesive community, Melody Parks will provide housing for every stage of life, including entry to step-up home-buying options, with 720 single-family homes ranging from $300,000 to $700,000. A step up from that is the larger footprint homes, the Melody Parks Estates, with four and five-bedroom homes, and high-end finishes. In addition, there are also standard rental market-rate multi-family units, including apartments and patio-homes. Young professionals and families can enjoy common amenities, community rooms, gardens, a pool, a gym, and garages. 

One of the home styles that can be built in Melody Parks.As an homage to the former site of the local gem, The Melody Cruise-In Theatre, Melody Parks also highlights the area’s connections to film and the entertainment industry. 

VP of Portfolio Management Kaileigh Pickett says Borror wanted to give this community its own flavor and branding, while tying that back into the Cruise-In history. 

“We wanted to honor the Chakeres family who owned the ground, so we decided to go with a movie and director theme for all of our street names. Our main drive is Picture Parkway, we have Director’s Drive. We try to pay homage to some of the more famous individuals from Springfield or who have ties to Springfield.”

Street names include Chambers Street (for actor Justin Chambers), Legend Drive (for musician John Legend), Coppola Court, and Hitchcock Drive honoring some of the Hollywood greats. Fontaine says it’s finding these historic storylines of the past, and connecting them to future developments that is his favorite part of the job. 

“We love to honor the communities that were established in and around where our developments are created, and the people that have stories that share with us,” he says. “Stories that we’ve heard since announcing this project have been so fun for us to talk to people about what life was like for them going to the old Melody Cruise-In as a kid, a highschooler, or a parent. For us, it’s one little way of honoring those stories and the Chakeres family and everything they had done to build into the rich film heritage that Springfield has.”

One of the home styles that can be built in Melody Parks.The first phase of the housing development is currently underway, as of a few weeks ago. The roadways, storm pipes and standard infrastructure have begun. Fontaine anticipates the first homes will be constructed this year, available for presale, and expects to see the first residents moving in by early 2025. 

“From a community engagement and municipal city partnership level, we have been beyond grateful for the greater Springfield partnership and for the City of Springfield’s commitment for finding ways to continue to help improve and grow their community,” Fontaine says. “If it weren’t for the efforts on their fronts to entice young businesses to come to the community, and to continue to work with us to refine our plans. It’s hard in our business today to find the right communities that are engaged in development and understand how the growth platform of the Ohio region is happening in the next 10 to 20 years, and having the foresight to help capture that for their community. We can’t praise the City Manager and his team high enough, they’ve been exquisite to work with.”

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Sarah Spohn is a Michigan native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over the Midwest. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, nonprofits, and community. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at [email protected]