Dayton Ohio Unfiltered. David Esrati's commentary, reporting and insights on a city on the rebound.
Economic Development in Dayton OH
Dayton Ohio has a lot of economic development organizations and directors of our many small fiefdoms. Often, one battles another in a shell game moving jobs from one jurisdiction to another. The ideas here are ways to transcend the political boundaries and create real economic growth opportunities.
In my last post about the City and inspectional services I mentioned the insane requirements forced on rehabs for fire rating separations and costs of sprinklers. It’s something I’ve had to hear about from people working in the city for years. My friend Bill Rain sent me something he’d written long ago, looking at ways to work some compromise into the system, so I’m sharing it here with you:
With any legislation, you need to predict what groups will be for or against. From our discussions, it sounds like your meetings with fire marshals’ have been positive. My experience has been that the fire unions and any groups representing fireman and inspectors tend to support any code changes that they view as “protective to firefighters”. The same for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as they like complexity in the building code to support their members. Groups in favor will be builders, developers, ICMA (Mayors and Mangers), etc. As we discussed, I would structure legislation to effect buildings of a certain size (number of stories, height, square footage) as this will garner more support with small to large cities as they both have the same problem, what to do with small multi-story buildings.
Our discussion earlier was around the requirements for 2 hour fire rating. If you take a step back and look at what requires existing building owners to add 2 hour rated walls, this is usually triggered by a “change of use”. I have never liked the concept of change of use as it only looks at the last use. I have bought historic buildings that had residential on upper floors but was abandoned and when we wanted to bring residential back, was told by the chief building official that the building use is commercial and that mixed-use will be a change of use and triggers updated code compliance. As we discussed, 2 hour rating is not the issue if only drywall is required (less expensive). The bigger issue is 2 hour rating with full suppression (sprinklers). Current building code pushes sprinklers for everything. The problem is that most existing buildings don’t have the water infrastructure to support sprinklers. There is the economic feasibility from a cost prospective. These cost include new water service and tap fee (usually minimum 3 inch and a new, more expensive meter and billing rate), splitting the service for both fire and domestic, 2 new back flow preventers, the physical cost to install the sprinklers (anywhere from $1.5-$3 per sqft) and disruption to the existing ceiling and cost to repair.
My recommendation would be a new section to the building code that gives chief building officials flexibility to deal with these EXISTING buildings (new construction is different). The job of the chief building official is to protect human life. I have used the phrase “is someone going to die if we don’t do XXXX”. If the answer is no, then they should have flexibility. The biggest cause of fires in older building is faulty electric and fire started by vacancy. If you want to make a building safe, make them feasible that someone will use it. The new section of code should require 2 hour DRYWALL separated uses and primary egress, new electrical service or existing that has a UL rated panel and MC, romex or vinyl clad interior wire and 2 means of egress. Egress is a big issue. There are multiple issues here. Old stairs usually don’t meet modern rise and run requirements. If space allows, new WOOD stairs should be allowed to be built to meet the primary egress requirements. If space does not allow, the chief building official should have flexibility to look at the new upstairs use. If the use is owner occupied residential space then there should be a contractual way to shift liability to the owner/user. Primary Egress should be treated different if it is commercial and will have clients coming to the space. This does not get into ADA requirements but there should be relief if it is for owner occupied, non-commercial use. For second means of egress, stairs are not always feasible in many buildings. The code should allow for the use of fire escapes or fire ladders.
These changes should allow for many small buildings in downtown areas to be reused. I know your time line is tight so wanted to get some ideas into your hands.
The key thing to think about is are we protecting people or property with these regulations? And, if we’re talking about fire safety- an empty building is always a bigger risk of fire than an occupied one. Let’s focus on keeping and maintaining the stock and making it at least as safe as when it was built- instead of putting unreal expectations. By requiring modern electric service, up-to-code gas lines and mechanical systems, you are decreasing the risk of fire much more than by having empty buildings waiting for an arson. Never mind the fact that occupied buildings generate tax income, whereas vacant ones just create tax burdens overtime.
Practical solutions to protect our community are up to us. If there was one place where we should be evoking home rule- it’s to protect our downtown historic buildings before too many more succumb to the wrecking ball.
The Dayton Business Journal has a cover story about Dayton’s woefully inept Building Inspection department- something that’s been inept for a long time. Olivia Barrow talks to several small independent start-ups that ran face first into the wall of BS that Dayton likes to throw at every project that doesn’t come with political payola.
From the DBJ article-
Michael Cromartie, chief building inspector, wants to see Dayton thrive as much as anyone. But working with his 1999 computer system and a skeleton crew bound to enforce state building codes to the letter, he has a natural tendency to prefer businesses with money.
“If they’re undercapitalized, that’s always a challenge,” he said. “We have walked some people through every step of the process. But can I do that with everybody? No.”
Cromartie said while he can’t design a project for a business, he still wants to meet with prospective business owners as early as possible — before they even sign a lease or buy a building….
Somewhere inside the mammoth tome of regulations that is the Ohio Building Code, there’s a chapter created for existing buildings that violate today’s safety and accessibility standards — Article 34. It’s often cited as a way for entrepreneurs to save money building out a space in one of downtown’s charming, but code-delinquent historic buildings.
But Juhl never even had the chance to get his building evaluated through Article 34.
“The city won’t even look at that chapter unless you build a case around it,” he said. “It would have been a pain in the butt. So instead we brought a 130-year-old building up to 2011 code.”
Article 34 has been used successfully on several projects in Dayton — including Square One Salon & Spa, Warped Wing Brewing Co. and The Barrel House — but those projects were well-funded or advised by experienced architects or business owners.
“It’s virtually impossible for a business owner to use Chapter 34 (without an architect),” said Brock Taylor, development specialist for the city.
The regulation allows a building to be evaluated on a point system that includes trade-offs and substitutions between some of the most expensive elements of bringing a building up to code.
That includes leaving out a sprinkler system in favor of a cheaper alarm system, or reducing the intended occupancy in order to avoid other costly regulations.
But ultimately, even an Article 34 review process can end up being a waste of time, Cromartie said.
“Sometimes you do the investigation and realize it’s not even going to save you any money,” he said.
That chapter of the code becomes another factor that slants the playing field toward well-capitalized, investor-backed ventures….
A technological upgrade is also in order, but it won’t come online until January of 2016.
“The city is investing over $1 million in replacing its obsolete permitting software,” Cromartie said.
And the city is also creating a new staff position that could provide some of the relief business owners are looking for.
Michael Cromartie has picked up some knowledge from his years on the job- or should I say his reign of terror. His claim as one of the Monarchy of Montgomery County is being married to former Mayor James H. McGee’s daughter, former judge Francis McGee.
I ran into the same BS over 27 years ago when I bought a building ready for the wrecking ball. Not only were there issues with the historic district code, there were zoning issues and then the building inspection issues. When you have a building that someone is willing to invest 30x the purchase price- it would have been nice for a little common sense, but that wasn’t the case. Despite having 4 exit doors with windows in them- and huge storefront windows- the geniuses insisted that we needed the lighted “Exit” signs over a door. You know the ones required by code for hallways in multistory buildings- that have a bunch of solid- similar doors- where there is no way of telling which one leads out.
I came to believe that the building code as enforced by Dayton was the antidote to Darwin (i.e.- protecting morons from extinction).
I’m pretty sure a firefighter is going to argue with me on another point- the one requiring sprinklers. I’m placing a bet that sprinklers malfunction and do more damage than actually work and put out fires- but, Dayton seems hell bent on keeping the sprinkler installers in business. I find it amazing that most of Europe where buildings are over 600 years old- survived without sprinklers.
I know many contractors that refuse to work in Dayton due to the incredible amount of BS that this department manages to spew. I was told that my existing roof- in the back of my house with true 2×6, 14′ rafters on a slight pitch were undersized- and needed to go- despite being original- and decked with 5/4″ planks. I told the inspector to pound salt. That wasn’t what he was there to inspect. On my cottages they tried to claim that faced insulation, that was stapled and seams taped wasn’t a proper vapor barrier- and that we had to remove the facing- and use plastic instead. Except that you couldn’t buy unfaced insulation anywhere. Yet another fail.
If you wonder why houses get torn down instead of rehabbed in Dayton- it’s because to do them legally is too much hassle, and to do them illegally isn’t worth the headaches- plus, the demolition companies pay to get our commission elected.
The reality is that the Ohio building code isn’t written for rehab. It’s written by the construction lobby with one goal in mind- build new instead of rehab. When enforced by megalomaniacs like Cromartie, the public isn’t any safer, and our old buildings fall victim to unreasonable requirements. Is a two-hour fire rating between floors of a 100-year-old building that’s built with old growth timber really going to make a difference compared to having working alarms? Are sprinklers in every unit of a residential conversion really more important than fire extinguishers? When it comes to ADA- does every unit in a residential rental building have to meet ADA requirements or just a majority?
Instead of “investing” a million in new permitting software, why don’t we just shut down the entire department and let the county do it? In the name of regionalism and setting an example of cooperation like we did with 911?
I’m sure it would do more to hasten renovation and investment back in the city than letting King Cromartie continue his reign of terror on “under-capitalized” entrepreneurs (i.e.- no money to pay them off).
We can’t plow snow because we don’t have enough salt. That was good enough for the city commission- and Public Works director Fred Stovall. Salt prices went up, he only has 60 drivers, overtime, etc.
So, schools close, kids don’t get their free meals, their parents have to make alternate plans for child care- affecting tens of thousands of people, because we can’t figure out that a city’s first responsibility is making sure roads are clear- for us- and for emergency vehicles as well.
But, we have plenty of money for…. wait…. a packaging company. Of course, we run it through the loosely controlled slush fund- CityWide Development, where tax dollars go and go and go:
A Dayton packaging company will get $110,000 in incentives to grow in Dayton.
The city is expected to vote Wednesday night to facilitate a $100,000 low-interest loan and a $10,000 grant for Miami Valley Packaging Solutions Inc. to help expand its presence in Dayton. The company is investing $2.1 million to purchase and renovate the building at 150 Janney Road.
The city is providing CityWide Development Corp. $105,000 for the loan, with the extra $5,000 going to CityWide to help administer it. The city is separately giving a $10,000 grant to the company.
With the funding, the Dayton-based packing company will have the financing in place for its planned move and growth in the city.
Miami Valley Packaging Solutions said last fall the new 100,000 square-foot space will be a major upgrade from its current 66,000 square-foot headquarters at 1752 Stanley Ave.
With equipment purchases, the move is expected to cost $3 million. Partners Kenny Phegley, Jamie Williams and Don Chmiel say they want to significantly expand business.
City documents indicate Miami Valley Packaging Solutions will retain 21 jobs and create nine new ones over the next five years. The company bought B&L Packaging in 2009 and specializes in corrugated packaging, with a line of plastic packaging growing quickly.
Of course if you own another packaging company in town- this means you are now at a disadvantage- and you still can’t get your employees to work.
But- that’s “Economic Development” Dayton style- where we pick and choose the winners and losers in your tax dollar lottery.
And it there is too much snow, we can buy boxes from Miami Valley Packaging Solutions and package it up- and send it somewhere else.
We had four to five inches of dry powder fall last night. You didn’t even have to brush your car off- driving and wipers would blow it all off, yet, schools are closed and even the base is closed. LexisNexis shut down- an internet based business- more so because the employees have to stay home to take care of kids who are staying home. Ripple effect.
Costs to businesses- huge. Cost to community huge.
And, let’s face it- most of the people who get to play hookey for the day- are still getting paid. Teachers- paid. Base employees – paid. Note- these people get paid with tax dollars. The working poor- who are slaving minimum wage jobs to begin with- who now have to make other arrangements for child care- they don’t get paid if they don’t work.
This is called inequity. And the root cause? Government that can’t get the job of plowing streets done. They claim they don’t have the money to do it.
So- simple solution- take the teachers pay- take the base employees pay- and put it into a snow day fund- that pays for roads to be cleared.
Or- maybe, change the laws about snow days- and make them mandatory make up days in the summer- maybe that way, they won’t continue to be paid days off. As to the base employees- I don’t recall the grunts in the Korean War, or the Battle of the Bulge getting days off because of a little snow. Last I checked, we’re still flying missions- and at war somewhere- so there are no excuses for staying home.
Oh, but, the risk of accident or injury from driving in these “horrible conditions”- suck it. Learn how to drive in the snow- or move to Florida. Just kidding- but the reality is, if this city hadn’t sprawled- we wouldn’t have the miles of roads to clear. Bad leadership, still hasn’t taken responsibility for proper emergency services. Need an example- just look at the current fight over who is going to provide Fire and EMS to the Cornerstone project. Seriously, if the ‘burbs and townships can’t get their act together- they should immediately be disbanded and forced to become part of the county- who should be responsible for clearing all the roads- not individual municipalities.
This isn’t my first rant about snow days- here are two oldies but goodies:
It’s time we stopped worrying as much about “economic development” which isn’t governments job- and start worrying about keeping the streets, schools, businesses and military bases open which is governments job. It’s time for the snow sissy’s to be held accountable and made to pay for their lame decisions.
What you put on the front page isn’t always the biggest news- it’s the news you think will sell papers. In the business- the biggest “sellers” go above the fold- so you see it in the paper box window or on the top of the stack.
This article was below the fold- but, it’s there for a reason- to sell papers.
“One in 3 accused of felonies under 18
West Dayton statistics on arrests show large number of offenses.”
It’s only news on paper- not online
When you go to the newspaper site online- where there is a “free” teaser area- this article is no where to be found. Had to save the iPad edition to get the link. And let’s be clear, we all know “West Dayton” is a code word for black.
Here is how the article begins:
About one in three people arrested for felony crimes in west Dayton are under the age of 18, police officials said, and juveniles have been linked to a variety of serious offenses in the area, including a string of armed robberies over the summer.
More than 150 juveniles this year have been booked for felony assault, burglary, robbery and theft offenses that took place in west Dayton,
according to data from police reports and records obtained by this newspaper.
Almost 40 percent of suspects arrested for felony theft offenses in west Dayton were minors, compared to 23 percent of theft suspects citywide.
Some West Dayton neighborhoods have a greater share of young residents than the city as a whole, officials said. Education, poverty and socioeconomic factors can play a role in youth crime trends, according to juvenile justice experts.
The article continues with more finger pointing statistics:
By comparison, juveniles citywide represented less than 23 percent of felony burglary and theft suspects arrested and less than 27 percent of robbery suspects, according to the police data.
Nationally, less than 22 percent of burglary, robbery and theft suspects arrested are juveniles, according to 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Justice.
We’re in trouble if this is the best quotes we can get from “experts”
Effective intervention programs must target crime-producing needs, such as substance abuse; anti-social attitudes, values and beliefs; anti-social peer associations; and a lack of self-control and problem-solving skills, according to Edward Latessa, a professor and director of the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.
“Montgomery County has a very strong juvenile court and has developed quite a few evidence-based programs to serve youth in the community,” he said.
Dayton police are using analysts to evaluate crime data and police reports each day to determine connections between illegal activities, such as suspects and crime patterns. Officers are then assigned to specific patrols based on the data. Officials said they hope to catch young criminals in the act before their crimes progress in severity.
“The more we can interrupt any kind of patterns, any kind of criminal conduct, the better the neighborhoods will be,” Carper said.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time amongst these “black youth criminals” over the last two summers- hanging green basketball nets on decrepit courts that would get housing violation notices in any other community. Weeds growing through cracks in the pavement that were taller than kids expected to play there (Parkside courts) or rims so rusty you’d have to get a tetanus shot to dunk on safely (Gettysburg park) or backboards so rotted they could barely hold a rim (multiple- but the worst were at Burkham park and Princeton Rec). If you notice something- all these parks are on the West Side. For comparison- go to Jane Reese park in Patterson Park, where there were no weeds, rust, and the backboards and rims were in perfect condition- they even had nets.
I rarely saw adults working with kids on the courts, coaching, mentoring or getting to know their neighborhood kids. One memorable exception was on the old courts from the former Grace A Greene school, off Edison Street, where I ran into a guy with a gaggle of kids- and he was running drills, and teaching them the fundamentals of the game. He was a barber- around 42, and the kids were mostly his own and his deceased sister’s, but this is the kind of intervention we need more of- not police and courts, by the time the cops figure things out and you’re in the court’s eye, it’s already too late.
Rotting wood, bent rim. This is at one of our few staffed recreation centers
I spent a lot of time at Princeton Rec hanging nets. The courts get a lot of use, and 2 of the rims were the worthless style for chain nets that I had to use zip ties to attach the nets (it took me a year to realize I had to double the zip ties with each attachment point to stop them from becoming a fun game to pop ties by hanging on the nets). I put up three new quality rims at this court because they were missing or so badly broken it had to be done. Note- the Princeton Rec center has full time staff, not many, but some, and I never, ever saw them working with the kids outside. In fact, when I told kids to complain about the backboards and rims to the people inside- the kids told me that the city employees said that it was someone else’s job to take care of the rec equipment at their facility.
I’m not going to go on a diatribe about what needs to be fixed here. My readers are smart enough to know, kids’ youth sports are one of the best and cheapest ways to keep kids out of trouble and interacting with adults in a positive environment. My campaign literature had a picture of my x’s kid, a 10-year-old girl, who was playing football with the Dayton Vikings at the screwed up field on the site of the former Belmont High School. The program had teams at all age levels, equipment for all the kids, and was in a league of about 8 teams based out of Butler County. Figure each team had close to 20 kids, so you had over 100 kids practicing every day of the week in football season.
I ran into Bruce, the “Commissioner” last week at Skyline on Brown. The team shut down last year- apparently the move to Wilbur Wright field didn’t go too well, and the number of kids dropped. All the equipment is in storage. The kids- are on the streets, you know what happens next.
full disclosure- my firm The Next Wave does work for Quincy’s fish- they had zero editorial input on this.
Heard it here first folks- Quincy’s Fish is moving from W. Third to the old Lou’s Broaster hut location at 865 N. Main St. It’s a blow to the West Side- but a boon to the lower Riverdale area and Downtown. Should be open by Dec. 1, 2014.
This isn’t a ding on opening business on the West Side- it’s a ding on our crappy system of recording deeds, collecting taxes and protecting vacant buildings in Dayton. It’s also good reason to hire a title company even when signing a lease on a distressed building in Dayton, especially if your landlord is a known felon.
The building, which at one time was a bank and then a Pizza Hut – and lastly “Charlies Angels” had sat vacant for a few years. The claimed owner was Mark Donelson, of Donelson Investments. Former husband of Scherrie McLin, daughter of former political power broker CJ McLin and sister of former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin- who is now in prison for mishandling pre-paid funeral money in the family funeral home.
Donelson had moved the title into numerous persons’ names during his incarceration and apparently had never actually set up the Nevada corporation, the Donelson Trust of Nevada, to which he had last transferred the title. The owner of Quincy’s found this out- after they had been taken to court over failure to pay rent. Rent payments had been going into escrow, over the lack of an air conditioner, until the matter was settled- which is when the question of rightful, legal ownership surfaced. All of the money in escrow, ended up reverting to the owner of Quincy’s since the judge couldn’t determine ownership of the building. [updated Mar 19, 2015 after receiving a phone call threat from Mr. Donelson]
Despite months of sweat equity and investment into transforming the eyesore back into a going concern, the lack of legal standing of the “owner” of the building made any chance of stability in that location seem elusive.
Enter the old “Lou’s Broaster Hut” or “Chicken Louies” at 865 N. Main Street. Another building that has been adversely affected by failures of our city to protect investors’ investments. First was the closing of the highway access to N. Main street and construction. Then the break-ins through the roof and the theft of metal. Another abandoned restaurant, another reclamation project.
The abysmal record of the Dayton Police in solving crimes by drug seeking junkies who rely on pennies on the dollar for recovered scrap from viable buildings is good reason to pay attention to the County Commission race- where former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell is proposing an idea that’s been tested in Europe- giving the worst offending heroin addicts the drug in a controlled environment so as to keep them from causing millions of dollars of damage for scrap.
With the experience on Third Street behind them- the owners of Quincy’s think they can turn the old “White Tower” building around in 30 days and be open for business by Dec. 1, 2014.
In the meantime, the question of the ownership of the W. Third Street building will just be another case of failure of our system of recording deeds and titles. Our current “system” came along with the relaxation of rules which allowed for the resale of mortgages without physical transfer of deeds- which was in part what led to the financial crisis and housing collapse of 2009. It’s time to stop this malarkey of digital deed transfers and shell corporations that haven’t been fully vetted. It’s also time to impose penalties on those organizations- be it banks, or shell corps, who hold these buildings without taking care of them. In the end- they cost all of us.
In today’s Dayton Daily news, the front page story talks about the tanking property values in Montgomery County- and then gushes over South Park- a “gainer” among the rest of the failing county.
To begin with, you have to realize that when your property is already way undervalued due to the failures of our local governments (yes plural- since we have way too many) over the last 40 years, we’ve allowed sprawl and “economic development” to run our community. Both of which have caused the costs of basic government services to grow faster than the tax base.
Our “median assessed value” is still almost half of what the rest of the county is. Take that into consideration, as well as our neighborhood of 850 odd houses, is a very small sample of the whole. So when you read everything in the DDn article about why our neighborhood’s appraised values went up- remember, it’s a tiny increase in the grand scheme of things- where you still have a sinking ship deeply in need of triage.
Soaring South Park
It was exactly that kind of effort — over many years — that has contributed to rising values in the South Park and other historic districts.
Together, the 1,875 residential properties in the 10 historic districts as defined by the county saw 14.4 percent increase in total assessed value. Only the Oregon District, which lost 9.3 percent, and McPherson Town, which declined by less than 1 percent, saw decreasing values.
The South Park Historic District was the county’s biggest gainer. The median assessed value for the 646 residential properties in the district increased by 32.1 percent during the three years, rising from $66,905 in 2011 to $88,410.
In South Park, the county’s largest historic district, only 35 residential properties — or about 1 in 18 — lost value, according to the newspaper’s analysis.
Brian Ressler, president of Historic South Park, Inc., the district’s non-profit neighborhood association, attributed much of the neighborhood’s resurgence to two businesses that have dedicated themselves to buying and rehabilitating homes there — Full Circle Development (Gasper) and The Home Group Realty Co.
“They have contributed a lot to basically creating a market where there wasn’t one before,” Ressler said of the two businesses. “They’ve been able to increase demand for housing in the neighborhood in a way that couldn’t have occurred before because they’ve been able to do so much at once.”
A number of other folks have also pitched in to rehabilitate homes in the neighborhood – many of which date to the late 1800s.
Holly DiFlora, owner of The Home Group, said she and her husband Michael, who grew up in Old North Dayton, began buying blighted South Park properties in 2006 after retiring and moving back to the area.
“We’ve done 35 houses in the neighborhood,” DiFlora said of the rehabs. “We knew we had to do critical mass in order to really jump start the neighborhood. And we have.”
Longtime residents Pat and Susan Moran won’t argue about the progress, but like many property owners with increased appraisals they’re ambivalent.
Their two-story home on Bonner Street, built in 1890, increased almost 19 percent, from $101,300 to $120,230.
So, were the Morans happy with their new assessment?
“Yes and no,” Pat said with a grin. “If we were going to sell it, sure.”
But it also means they’ll pay more in property taxes.
“I think it’s good for the neighborhood,” said Susan, “but it’s not good for the individuals.”
Asking Brian Ressler, a relative newcomer to the neighborhood on what caused the increase is like asking a first-year med student to be “Dr. House” who solves the toughest medical problems- all within 50 minutes every week.
South Park is a success, not because of the investment of the DiFloras and the Gaspers- although they definitely helped. It’s a combination of things that are fundamentally different from what other neighborhoods in Dayton are doing (the smaller historic districts- Oregon and McPherson Town both dropped in value- again, very small sample sizes make the numbers meaningless).
So, if you want to know what really caused the values to go up, you need to do some quick comparisons. The City of Dayton made a concerted effort to “bring back Wright Dunbar”- investing many millions into redevelopment. More than DiFlora and Gasper ever dreamed of spending. At one point, the city spent a million to redo just 4 homes- that all sold at a loss. This kind of attempted government intervention has never proven to be effective. If you want to see what wholesale dollars poured into neighborhoods does- look at Twin Towers that has had a gazillion spent on new homes, social services and even their own school program. Values are still stagnant at best. Look at the Fairgrounds neighborhood- where the Genesis project poured millions in- and the city promised that it would never turn into student housing. Section 8 residents are getting the boot- so investors can house 4 UD students in illegal (supposedly) rooming houses billing by the semester. Homes built with city money are now requiring new roofs before the tax abatements are even finished.
South Park has been an organic work in progress for almost 3 decades- when the historic designation was made in 1984- it forced renovations and changes to the exteriors to conform to a stricter set of standards with oversight. This stopped many slumlords from being able to come in and quickly solve paint problems with vinyl siding and falling down porches by putting up aluminum awnings. It also bonded neighbors together- with a mission, to make sure that no one was getting anything over on the rules. It’s how I got in trouble for putting up wood grain vinyl garage doors- on a dump of a garage on a house that had been on the market for 2 years without an offer.
Secondly, the neighborhood has really good physical natural boundaries. Sort of like the Oscar Newman “defensible space” that when implemented incorrectly in Five Oaks- failed. We have Woodland Cemetery to the south, U.S. 35 to the north (which split the neighborhood from the Oregon District in the early 1960s. Wayne Ave. to the east and either Warren or Main to the west depending on whom you talk to. Good fences are said to make good neighbors- good boundaries make good neighborhoods.
Because the effort to become a historic district was organic- and home grown, it pulled the neighborhood together, and we did everything we could to try to help each other in the process of rehab and reclamation. One early investor, Dan Campbell- a union carpenter, taught me everything I know about framing and hanging drywall- which he gladly shared in exchange for help on his projects. We shared tools, we cleaned alleys together- and we worked on Home Tours to show off our work.
In the mid-1990s, I did a video about the neighborhood- a 30-minute TV program- to run on DATV and to be handed out on VHS tape. It was called “South Park Soliloquy”- and while it was meant to market the neighborhood- I stayed away from talking about the “Victorian Houses” and the rehab efforts- and talked more about the kinds of people who had chosen to live here. Instead of baroque chamber music and a stuffy voice over- it’s in the neighbors’ words- with the happy music of Buckwheat Zydeco (I traded building Buck’s first website for the rights). We started to evolved from a house centric appeal to become the “neighborhood where neighbors become friends.” The video is still on YouTube.
And although many of the neighbors who are in the video have left and a few have passed, the energy of this video continues to thrive in this neighborhood.
As part of the Genesis project- and to protect their investment, Miami Valley Hospital has funded two community-based police officers for almost twenty years. And while I can’t say that crime has decreased dramatically – there is a better connection between neighbors and the police helped create a sense of security that wasn’t here before. All neighborhoods should have their own, dedicated officers that know the community inside and out.
Neighbors also banded together to form South Park Preservation Works- a non-profit development company that took some of the worst houses in the neighborhood and stopped them from having to be demolished. A for-profit neighborhood development corporation, South Park Social Capital, was my brainchild around 1998 to try to keep the old Skinners bar from reopening- and to shut down a carry out that belonged to a drug dealer. Although the corporation failed- we now have very reputable businesses in both locations- one being the South Park Tavern and the other Oak St. Antiques.
We also worked hard at growing our social events, and doing things that weren’t your typical neighborhood events. Does your neighborhood produce Shakespeare? How about a Halloween Parade with a marching band before trick or treat? Or, dog walking flash mobs, or hot toddy parties, chili cook-offs and now social soccer Sundays? All of these contribute to a focus on quality of life issues- and knowing your neighbors. These are all post video events- you can see our porch, patio and deck parties in the video.
We’ve attracted investors other than the Gaspers and the DiFloras as well. A client of my ad agency came into the neighborhood- and wanted an office like mine. I had bought the boarded up corner grocery back in 1988 on the day the stock market imploded for $2,200 and $2,400 in back taxes. I knew of another building like it that was on the market- and they ended up buying 4 properties in the neighborhood all for $15K. One of which was the house next to the Morans- which skyrocketed in “value” according to the reappraisal.
Jim Gagnet, took the impossible project of 424 Hickory and saved it- before he brought Coco’s back to the neighborhood. He’s currently finishing up 3 more houses on Lincoln Street- one of which was a horrific looking green monster of a house- that’s now a beautiful shell. He invests here because he knows that there are others willing to invest- the planned project just South of Coco’s and the new Goodwill all bode well for him making a return.
No amount of government investment or even private capital make as much impact as the efforts of the social capital in a neighborhood. It’s not about investing in property- it’s about investing in a community. Once the projects were torn down about 4 years ago- where you had a bunch of people who weren’t necessarily there by choice, there was another burst of investment (this is where DiFlora and Gasper came in). The neighborhood was well on its way before that. One investor, Eric Segalewitz, had bought the entire block facing the projects- while they were still up. He turned the houses into hipster pads and is now about to cash out. People thought he was crazy when he bought them- they don’t now.
We’ve also been lucky enough to have some really amazing small businesses in the ‘hood that have stuck it out. A major person behind almost every volunteer effort for years has been Bill Daniels from the Pizza Factory (he also owns the South Park Tavern). He’s provided food for volunteers more times than anyone can count. He’s gone out and given coupons for free pizzas to people for doing great Christmas decorations- you don’t have that in every neighborhood- but you should. Our newish coffee house- Ghostlight, the same thing. Custom Frame Services has done the same thing over the years. When we decided to do a sculpture- we hire our neighbor Hamilton Dixon- and we have an incredible whirligig on Park Drive now.
There are more amazing things about this neighborhood than I can write- I’ve left off our urban gardens, and our food truck shindig, etc.
It’s people that make a city- not buildings and certainly not government. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner your property values will rise, too.
additional note: Monday 6 Oct- in the same edition of the Dayton Daily news- on the “editorial page” was a full page story about Pecha Kucha Dayton- the team that puts this amazing event on- of course- 3/4 of it- lives in South Park.
another note: Tue 7 Oct. As of 2015- South Park will no longer qualify as a HUBzone according to the SBA. Another sign that things have changed.
I’ve been to more public meetings than most. For the most part- they suck. Forums aren’t forums, Q&A is random, some moderators have no clue how to run a meeting- and a lot of people like to talk too much- myself included.
I try to get out and video as many as possible that I think may be interesting and share them with you. Good idea number one if you are going to hold a forum- have someone video it and post to YouTube.
Good ideas number 2-5:
Have a podium and a microphone- with your organization on the podium (just like the Presidential Press Secretary) it answers a question- and it makes it easy for a set and forget camera.
Have a moderator who always REPEATS and focuses the question and directs who should answer. If multiple people will answer- have a strict timer.
Have set questions in advance- that are given to the panel, and the audience in advance. This isn’t 60 minutes gotcha- this is a forum- where people are trying to learn and understand and discuss.
Provide a backgrouder- a synopsis of the issue, with key points, reference links, opposing views- prime the pump. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on.
All that said- also, make sure you don’t do what happened here- make sure everyone knows what time it starts, stops and what’s expected. Also- don’t make everyone sit through the whole thing- have a schedule, bring speakers in at designated times and be respectful of their time.
The issue was “Economic development” – and particularly the West Side. I have my own views on this- skip forward to 1:18
From their Facebook page:
Dayton Unit NAACP Educates Citizens About The
Economic Development Environment In Dayton
On Monday, August 25, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy, the Dayton Unit NAACP will hold its monthly community meeting entitled, “Economic Development Environment In Dayton.” The distinguished guest panelists will be Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton; Catherine Crosby, executive director of the Dayton Human Relations Council; Richard L. Wright, executive director of Parity Inc.; John A. Lumpkin, vice president of wealth management and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley; and Silvia Anderson, manager of workforce services for OhioMeansJobs in Montgomery County. The moderator will be Chris Shaw, chair of the Dayton Unit NAACP Economic Development Committee.
“The Dayton Unit NAACP is highly concerned about the lack of Employment Opportunities to include City, County and State Highway Construction Jobs; Small Business Development to include Retail Outlets, Restaurants and Service Facilities; and the lack of Franchise Businesses which are so prevalent in other areas of the Region, said Derrick L. Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP. “We look forward to hearing the great things these leaders are accomplishing from an Economic Development standpoint in Dayton proper,” said Foward. “The citizens of Dayton are counting on you in a BIG way to enhance their quality of life.”
“The Economic Development Committee is concerned about jobs, business development and wealth building,” said Shaw. “While we know issues and opportunities exist, by bringing together community stakeholders, we will be able to update the residents of Dayton on collaborative efforts to further these goals. We look forward to community participation,” said Shaw.
There were about 50 people in attendance. At the end- I was asked to take a photo of everyone with their hands in the air- “hands up don’t shoot” for their FB page. Good to know I’m good for something.
I didn’t go last night, because I was pretty sure it would happen again- and I had a ton of work to finish. I wouldn’t have waded into another one of these swarms again.
In front page news, Dayton Public School scored near the bottom of all Districts in the State. Jefferson Township and Trotwood Madison were right there with them.
Dayton Public Schools again had the lowest performance index in the area, with its 75.2 mark ranking. Dayton had the second worst ranking among Ohio public districts, only ahead of Warrensville Heights in northeast Ohio. On another measure, DPS did meet two of the 24 state testing standards, putting it ahead of Cleveland, Youngstown and Canton schools, and tying Dayton with Columbus, Toledo and Akron…
Dayton (2), Trotwood-Madison (3) and Middletown (3) schools ranked lowest in standards met…
Dayton, Trotwood and Tri-County North were the only local schools to receive three F’s in value-added….
Trotwood (74.8), Northridge (73.1) and Dayton (72.2) had the lowest graduation rates, although Dayton’s rate was an improvement from last year’s 69.9.
There is a direct correlation between these two news stories. And there is a solution- and it costs a lot less than what our city wastes in corporate welfare under the guise of “economic development.”
We’ve abandoned our youth.
I grew up in a community that was more Oakwood than Dayton. Cleveland Heights wasn’t as wealthy, or as lily white in the 70’s but it had a focus on its kids. There were “park monitors” in the summer in parks throughout the city- high schoolers who were paid and sent to parks and school playgrounds with a duffel bag of bats, balls, Frisbees, and a job description of helping kids have fun together. We spend a couple of million each summer on our YouthWorks program putting kids into businesses – but nothing to let kids lead kids. Heights also had outdoor pools, an ice rink, the sorts of things one only finds in Kettering today. School scores aside, I think Kettering gets many more things right in their spending priorities which seem focused on quality of life- which in turn positions them nicely for the private sector to do their own economic development. For those of you who aren’t aware- they have an ice rink, BMX track, an internationally recognized skate park, indoor outdoor pools with waterpark features, enough soccer fields to host the world cup (if only parents were watching) baseball, softball and basketball courts all in top condition.
Dayton, our largest city can point to a few dedicated private citizens and organizations doing the right thing:
First Dayton Little League: Located in Dayton, OH, First Dayton Little League is in Ohio District 8 under District Administrator Shannon Walker. The league has been a chartered member of Little League since 1951. Approximately 90 children are participating in First Dayton Little League, which fields 5 teams. The league president is Ron Johnson.
The program at Washington Park died a few years ago, due to a number of factors. Here are a hole 90 kids, out of probably close to 20,000 that are involved in “America’s pastime.”
When it comes to youth football- there is a small league that does it’s best to make things happen for the kids.
The Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading (DJYFC) is a youth football organization based in Dayton. We are a certified non-profit with the State of Ohio and a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. We are a member of the Butler County Youth Football League (BCYFL) in Hamilton, Ohio. Also affiliated with the American Youth Football Association (AYF), one of the largest international youth football organizations established to promote the wholesome development of youth with an emphasis on learning, playing, and enjoying the sport while instilling high moral standards.
They involve more kids than the Little League organization. For a while the now renamed “Vikings” team, played on the worst field I’ve ever seen- the old Belmont High Schook practice field- before giving up and moving to Wright Brothers school field. When they asked repeatedly for DPS to help them with an electricity drop and permission to place a POD container, they got nowhere until a connected parent pushed for some help.
From the Dayton Jets site (they ge
Teens who do not participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes or use marijuana or other drugs; they are also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)
Children in after school programs were half as likely to drop out of high school, and two and one half times more likely to pursue higher education, than students not participating. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids 2000)
Young people need the influence of caring adults and positive role models in their lives. Good after school programs can accomplish that by helping youngsters develop the knowledge, skills and healthy habits to achieve their greatest potential. (US Secretary of Education Rod Paige, 2003)
Soccer, the cheapest sport out there, in terms of equipment, is staging a surge, mostly due to the immigrant community- both the Turks and Mexicans get it- and want programs for their kids.
DASA’s Commitment to our Community
Our Value Statement:
Teaching important lifetime skills in soccer, teamwork, and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, kids having fun!
To continuously provide a high-quality, affordable, recreational soccer experience for Dayton youth and their families.
Dayton SAY is the official youth soccer program for the City of Dayton Recreation and Youth Services. We are committed to serve the children of Dayton with the same intent, “Building community togetherness, stability and growth using recreation and youth services to enhance the quality of life for Dayton youth and families”.
For all my visits to basketball courts in the city- I’ve only encountered one “supervised” session, where a 41-year-old barber from Trotwood was working with neighborhood kids, his kid and his dead sister’s 5 kids that he’d taken in, at the old Grace A Greene courts, where there are 6 backboards, 5 rims and a lot of weeds in the cracks.
Going to the city rec’s page- they offer:
The City of Dayton’s Youth Sports Leagues are great for learning sportsmanship, teamwork, and developing athletic talent. In the fall and winter we offer a variety of basketball leagues. In the spring and summer we offer T?ball, coach pitch and kid pitch baseball, girls’ softball, and boxing. We also provide various classes to get youth active and moving all year long.
and of course- a video of our very unathletic mayor making a speech at “Youth Baseball Day.” If you watch the video, you find out that in order to make the field playable at Princeton Recreation Center- it took help of the Cincinnati Reds and three other donors. Our city, while it has no problem handing off a million plus dollars to tear down buildings for a developer without money or a plan, can’t maintain its own baseball fields.
The two diamonds at the end of my street are unrecognizable as diamonds anymore. A neighbor had to spend hours working on weeding the cracks in the tennis court, and then tightened a net to be able to play tennis with his kids.
Our schools have cut gym. Busing makes after school sports a very difficult process for parents. Each neighborhood has kids attending a dozen plus different schools. Scouting is an expensive proposition for low-income youth. Our two Boy’s and Girl’s clubs shrunk to one (where the outdoor courts in the parking lot have 4 backboards and 3 rims).
We filled in our outdoor pools. We sold off our recreation centers or tore them down. We’ve failed our kids.
And then we wonder why our schools are failing and we’ve got kids wilding in the streets?
Scoff at my hanging green basketball nets, (over 500 so far)- but it guilted city hall into investing a reported million dollars in court replacements and upgrades. Now, we need to figure out how to get kids working with role model adults on those basketball courts if we want to keep them out of the criminal courts.
It’s not just a question of can we do better? It’s we must do better. We’re failing our kids.
first comment on Facebook by Jay Madewell- music programs too. DPS has no more music programs (except Stivers). Time to bring back music into the schools.
If there are any youth sports programs that I missed- or programs for kids in Dayton- please leave them in comments- thank you.
Other than the wages it pays and the services it consumes- a racino isn’t anything other than a way for the state to steal poor people’s money. Compare the economic output of a racino- with the factory it replaced and you start to see where we are headed.
Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. the Dayton Unit of the NAACP is having a forum on “economic development” at the Dayton Boys Academy, just West of the intersection of James H McGee and W. Third Street. Our mayor, Nan “the demolisher” Whaley is one of the speakers. Having her talk about “economic development” is akin to asking Hannibal Lecter to speak on the benefits of organ donation.
Other speakers include:
Catherine Crosby, executive director of the City of Dayton Human Relations Council
Richard L. Wright, executive director of Parity Inc.
John A. Lumpkin, vice president of Wealth Management, and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley
Silvia Anderson, manager of Workforce Services for OhioMeansJobs Montgomery County.
The moderator will be Chris Shaw, chair of the Dayton Unit NAACP Economic Development Committee
“The Dayton Unit NAACP is highly concerned about the lack of Employment Opportunities to include city, county and state highway construction jobs; small business development to include retail outlets, restaurants and service facilities; and the lack of franchise businesses which are so prevalent in other areas of the region, said Derrick L. Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP. We look forward to hearing the great things these leaders are accomplishing from an Economic Development standpoint in Dayton proper, said Foward. “The Citizens of Dayton are counting on you in a BIG way to enhance their quality of life.
“The Economic Development Committee is concerned about jobs, business development and wealth building,” said Shaw. “While we know issues and opportunities exist, by bringing together community stakeholders, we will be able to update the residents of Dayton on collaborative efforts to further these goals. We look forward to community participation,” said Shaw.
I’m wondering what “Great things these leaders are accomplishing” too- especially, since business and government keep getting confused. Not a single developer invited. Nothing against my friend Mr. Lumpkin, but, he’s a former banker and now a financial adviser, not a business owner or a developer.
“Economic development” is code for taking taxpayers’ money and spending it where no one else will, or where politicians get kickbacks.
The real question is why businesses don’t thrive in Dayton- well except for CareSource- a tax-funded middleman where the CEO makes millions a year doing what a government employee would never get paid more than $185K a year for.
We could talk about the extra money a small business has to spend on security glass, alarm systems, video surveillance, guards and higher insurance premiums because of the vacant homes, crime and disinvestment. Our police force is half of what it once was, yet the city is the same size.
Back to the racino. Because the state guarantees a return on the slot machines, investors had no problem putting millions into building a legalized theft business. No tax breaks, no abatement, no grants. No other businesses, except health care and banking in this country are as free to operate knowing they will get paid no matter what. Other businesses all have to weigh their risk vs. return. In most of Dayton, the perceived risk outweighs its return.
If you want investment and jobs, look around at your neighborhoods- the boarded up homes, the weeds in the streets, the potholes, the broken curbs, the knocked down street lights in the center of U.S. 35 W that never got replaced and ask, why are we so lacking in government services despite paying the second highest income tax in the area?
The answer, unfortunately, is our government started concentrating on “economic development” and forgot about the fundamental premise of running a city properly.