Post election present: higher trash fees

Trash left in Alley by Dayton "trash collection"

I turned this in to “Dayton Delivers” 2 trash collections ago- after it had sat for at least 1. Still there.

After the last election where stupid Dayton voters put the “Endorsed Democrats” on the ballot, we got hit with a fee for new street lights.

This year, we get higher trash fees:

Dayton proposes the largest waste collection fee increase in years, which comes at a time when the city lost a major service contract and personnel costs are rising.

The city in 2016 proposes increasing the annual fee by $10 to $151.90.

The proposed fee hike exceeds the increases of the three previous years combined.

Dayton’s waste collection fees usually are tied to the consumer price index, which has been flat because of low fuel prices.

But a fee hike is necessitated to cover employee raises and rising health-care costs, city officials said.

“It’s related to costs,” said Stanley Earley, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

Also, Dayton next year will lose thousands of customers because Riverside is switching providers.

Dayton provides waste pick-up and disposal services to about 55,000 customers.

Source: Dayton trash fees likely to increase next year

Because you read this site, you aren’t a stupid Dayton voter, so you’ll understand the following:

  1. Costs should have dropped over the last year, since fuel prices are now 1/3rd or less than they were.
  2. If the costs of labor are so high, maybe we should put our system out to bid- obviously, Riverside found a better deal. Of course, if you are Nan Whaley, who accepted tens of thousands of union dollars to her half-million-dollar campaign, you have to pay the union back somehow.
  3. If the 55,000 customers pay $10 more per year, that means we needed $550,000 more to keep the price the same. Let’s see, we spent $450,000 for a building on Wayne Avenue next to Garden Station that has zero development, we paid $450,000 for a building at 601 E. Third Street that has no development, we are in the process of buying the “Paru Tower/Key Bank/Society Bank/Third National Bank” building on North Main for $500,000 with no signed contract, hmmmm, right there is 3 years of revenue for the trash service that went to buy trashed buildings with no public use.
  4. And, oh, yes, there is also the million dollars we gave Student Suites to make the hole in the ground on Ludlow, and the $167,000 we spent tearing down parts of the old DP&L steam plant at E. Third and Webster… do you see where your tax dollars are being spent yet?

The fact is that while this issue will slide under every one’s radar until January when the first bills get mailed, everyone is up in arms because Queen Nan, media attention whore, is making statements about accepting Syrian Refugees- and trying to square up against Governor John Kasich, media whore, who is saying no Syrian Refugees will be coming to Ohio.

Note, your chance of being killed by a teen driving a car with temporary plates while texting are much higher than your chance of being a victim of a Jihadist. But, that’s the point- why discuss things we can fix here in Ohio- like School funding- or reinstating proper leaf collection, which actually make a difference?

The hole on Ludlow Street

Photo by David Esrati of the demolition of the Dayton Daily News building 1923 addition

The day after demolition was allowed to continue

Last week the Dayton Daily news had the sad, sad story of poor Steve Rauch who didn’t get paid for tearing down a perfectly good historic building. No mention of performance bonds- which is the norm for projects like this:

The company that demolished parts of the historic Dayton Daily News building at 45 S. Ludlow St. has sued Student Suites Dayton LLC for allegedly not paying its nearly $800,000 bill.

The civil lawsuit filed Thursday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by Steve Rauch Inc. seeks financial damages and a foreclosure on the mechanic’s Lien against Student Suites Dayton (SSD), which originally planned to build a 350-unit, $18 million housing complex that could serve Sinclair Community College students.

Steve Rauch told this newspaper last week that he stopped working on the project when the billing cost for his work hit $869,000 and he still hadn’t been paid.A demolition contract between Student Suites Dayton LLC and Steve R. Rauch Inc. specifies a payment of $1.292 million. Rauch said he stopped working on the project because he hadn’t been paid.

“What a mess that place is down there, isn’t it?” he said. “I’ve liened it — against Student Suites. They haven’t paid me a dime.”

Rauch said he initially held off on filing a lawsuit, hoping to get paid as the project moves forward. “We are not the bad guy that put a bullet in the deal,” he said.

Through an email, Student Suites Dayton declined to comment.The suit alleged Rauch performed all demolition of the former Dayton Daily News and Schwind buildings, and related services. The cost, $775,195, has been due since Jan. 21, 2014, the lawsuit alleges. Interest of 10 percent per annum on the principal has been accruing since then, according to the suit.

Rauch’s attorney, Gregory Page, said the total owed, including interest, is more than $900,000.

“Based on SSD’s ongoing refusal to pay the sums due and owing, Rauch caused multiple affidavits for mechanic’s lien to be recorded against the property,” the suit alleges. “SSD’s actions, including, but not limited to, its failure or refusal to pay the sums due to Rauch, constitute a breach of contract.

”Besides compensatory damages and pre- and post-judgment interest of 10 percent, Rauch seeks attorney fees and costs, and for a judgment ordering the property to be foreclosed and sold. He is also asking that the plaintiff’s liens be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.

Complications arose over the Schwind Building, which was demolished in 2013.

A deed restriction imposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development limited use of the property to low-income housing, and the Students Suites project did not qualify.

Sorrell also said then that the Student Suites project was delayed because the developer could not obtain financing for it as a result of the deed restriction.

The plan to rejuvenate the area for housing while leaving the original Dayton Daily News “bank” building — which is on the National Register of Historic Places — was announced in April 2013.

Source: Ludlow housing project halted

Considering that Rauch also “mistakenly” tore down a part of the historic part of the Dayton Daily news building that was supposed to stay, the developer could counter-sue, that Rauch damaged the viability of the project. Of course, the fact that Student Suites probably asked him to do it by “accident” won’t come out until the gloves come off in the courtroom.

Normally, in order to do demolition of any sort- there is a required performance bond- so as to make sure the job gets completed. Someone in City Hall should be getting fired over this, but since that someone is either Aaron Sorrell, or Acting City Manager Shelley Dickstein, no one is saying anything. After all, they engineered this cluster-duck.

Of course, I did a FOIA request on who got paid what by the city. I’m not a full time journalist, but lucky for us, the Dayton Daily news hasn’t fired Steve Bennish- their last remaining reporter with a brain, and he’s coming out with a long piece in tomorrow’s paper (available online this morning).

What bothers me, is that his answers from City Hall don’t match the ones I got.

Here is my request- and my follow up- with their answers:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015, 10:27 a.m.
To: Bankston, Toni
Subject: FOIA request-

I talked to Stan Early about this on Sat. morning-
I want to find out the status of:
“The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.
Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.”

Were the funds released? To whom? Whom were they supposed to go to?

Thank you

Her response:

On Oct 28, 2015, at 12:10, Freeman, Angela wrote:

Mr. Esrati:

Please be advised that the funds came from the Moving Ohio Forward Grant, which was used to demolish vacant and foreclosed properties.  We expended a total of $183,591.37.  The funds went to Student Suites to finish the demolition of the Schwind Building.

Angela Freeman | Executive Secretary | City of Dayton | Office of Public Affairs |

Hmmm, only $183.5K- to Student Suites.

So, they committed 1.2 million- but only release 182.5K something didn’t sound right.

Try again:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 1:24 p.m.
To: Freeman, Angela
Cc: Bankston, Toni
Subject: Re: FOIA request-

So the million was never released?

And a response:

From: Freeman, Angela
10/28/15, 2:37 p.m.
To: David Esrati

In total, $938,591 was expended directly to Student Suites, under our development agreement.  Of that, $183,591.37 was an amendment utilizing MOF funds.  The larger, original balance was from the Development fund and was $755,000.00.

Other expenditures from the City were:

$220,000 to CityWide

$25,000 to Schwind Building Restoration Project

Who was the “Schwind Building Restoration Project” that got $25K and what did the taxpayers get back?

Who is asking about what CityWide did with almost a quarter of a million? And why aren’t they liable for the hole in the ground?

Why didn’t the city sue Student Suites- who got $183.5K and left us with a hole in the ground?

You think these questions would be answered in the Dayton Daily news piece coming tomorrow from Steve Bennish? But, no.

The best line in Bennish’s piece:

The city of Dayton, which owned the former Schwind building next door and agreed to have it demolished despite a deed restriction and lien on the property, now admits that was a mistake.

Source: Funding problems, legal woes stall downtown Dayton project |

 Because the city allowed a project to be rushed through, before financing was arranged and a development contract in place- the historic Cox building is now sitting rotting.
From the DDn:

A breakdown of city of Dayton expenditures also shows the city has spent $938,591 on the project. That doesn’t include $420,000 the city spent to pay off liens on the Schwind building, which has been torn down.

More city spending could follow. Dayton Interim City Manager Shelly Dickstein is concerned that another round of winter weather could damage the historic former newspaper building.

“We’ve looked at the cost to fill the hole so it’s not sitting there blighting the community and so that the building could be buttoned up and not exposed,” Dickstein said.

Rauch estimates the cost to finish the demolition would be $500,000 — to remove basement walls and fill in holes.

So now the demolition costs are up to $1.75 million.

The crazy part- this exceeds the cost projections former local developer Bill Rain had estimated to turn the Schwind into housing for students and still comply with the HUD restriction, but the city wouldn’t offer to help at all, finally forcing him out of the deal which he was given hope on by his “friend” Steve Budd at CityWide. Rain was going to use the DDn building as first floor retail and convert the upper floors of the very solid building into parking for the project. The historic Cox building- would have been adapted use as well.

However, local “power brokers” weren’t paid off, and Rain left for Tampa, where he’s done a series of much larger projects, including the conversion and adaptive reuse of a hospital into a long-term care and assisted living facility. (Full disclosure, Rain is a friend, and a client, I visited the hospital project several times and saw first hand what he did. I also witnessed his work on the St. Clair Lofts and Ice Avenue Lofts in Dayton).

The DDn even admits that they were all excited about these out of town hucksters with their no-money down deal:

The stalled state of the project is a stark contrast to the excitement that accompanied the original announcement from Cox Media Group that “a preliminary plan has been agreed upon for the sale and revitalization of the vacant historic Dayton Daily News building and adjacent property.”

“In addition to the sale of the historic Dayton Daily News’ building and property, Cox Media Group Ohio is contributing $1 million to restore and protect the legacy of the historic building,” the April 2013 announcement said.

The Cox people were most excited, but won’t say this- to get out of the property taxes on their empty building (they also demolished Channel 7 asap to avoid paying property taxes) and to not have to pay the Special Improvement District tax that supports the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Bennish does manage to get this gem into the story:

In the 2013 announcement, CMGO (Cox Media Group Ohio) said it had been working with the city of Dayton, Student Suites and a California-based nonprofit, United Housing and Community Services Corporation, to finalize a plan to build an $18 million multi-purpose complex on the property. Sinclair was not involved, but once the project was completed its students would have access to housing just a short walk from their classes.

United Housing would own the project “once it was leased up,” said Sorrell.

Attempts to reach United Housing were unsuccessful and there was no listing for the non-profit in a statewide telephone directory.

In a bond document on file with the city of Dayton, United Housing was listed as the borrower of the proceeds of the bonds issued by the port authority.

Student Suites, the document said, “gathers a team of architects, local contractors and financial experts to provide a completely finished project.”

Note the part about “bonds issued by the port authority”- yet earlier in the article Jerry Brunswick (withdrawn school board candidate), the current straw man in front of the Port Authority (another organization that screws up public money with little oversight):

Jerry Brunswick, president of the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority, said in the early stages of the project the plan was for the authority to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance up to $15 million. The bonds would be sold through an investment banker.

“I never heard that the (bankers’) investment committee approved it,” Brunswick said. “And we asked. We were told they never approved it. If there was a lien in front of the property, it would certainly impede a positive credit decision.”

He added: “A lien in front of you is not a great way to sell a project. The project still makes sense. We’d like to issue the bonds and we have a new program that can be a part of this.”

Uh, if it had a lien on it then, and now it has a lawsuit and an unfinished hole, I’d say this deal is dead.

Bennish briefly covered the buildings’ history- but, that back story is full of the institutional knowledge that is needed to really understand how we got to where we were today.

With the long-shuttered Arcade across the street, the Student Suites project was seen as a ray of hope for that part of downtown and possibly a catalyst for future development. Then came a snag.

A major legal hurdle involved the deed restriction and lien on the Schwind building, which was imploded as part of the development plan. HUD had imposed the restriction after funding a previous owner’s plan to put low-income housing there.

Records show the Schwind had a rough history. The city originally acquired the building from HUD in 2003 after the owner defaulted on a HUD-insured mortgage. The city transferred the building to Rain & Associates in July 2004, but the building then went into foreclosure and was sold in 2007 through a foreclosure sale to the Schwind Building Restoration Project. The city re-acquired the building in August 2013 as part of the Student Suites project.

The “snag” was fully known and ignored by the city and by Student Suites. This is what we normal working stiffs call incompetence. That Dickstein failed the Wayne Avenue Kroger – with no contract with a tenant before expending over $4 million to aggregate a 12 acre parcel, using multiple rounds of real estate options, blighting the neighborhood wholesale, and spending enormous sums on appraisals, and negotiations should have been the end of her and Sorrell.

Bennish didn’t talk to Rain. The Schwind Building Restoration Project was when Bob Schiffler took over the project. Schiffler had successfully and beautifully done the old Chemineer building at the corner of Fourth and Main- but, soon after they transferred the property to him- PNC took over our beloved local lender, National City Bank- and called his notes- forcing him to sell his beautiful mansion on Oakwood avenue and regroup. The Schwind was ancillary damage.

The education of Aaron Sorrell and Shelley Dickstein at taxpayer expense is getting expensive. Bennish gets this beautiful piece in:

Sorrell acknowledges that the lien and deed restriction were raised by Student Suites as a hurdle to financing, but he said the developer redesigned the project to make the Schwind site part of a second phase that would kick in when the lien was removed.

“We’ll take responsibility for the HUD lien,” Sorrell said. “But the developer has struggled to find financing.”

Dickstein too acknowledged that the city made mistakes. “Looking in the rear view mirror, the project moved forward without financing in place,” she said. “In hindsight, we would change things.”

Maybe the reason the developer has trouble finding financing is because it’s really hard to do much in Dayton or even Montgomery County, due to it having the second highest tax burden in the state? Add to that, the additional tax to support the Downtown Dayton Partnership which gets away with no blame on this mess. Lenders aren’t bullish on doing any renovations in Dayton- or the use of Historic Tax credits to finance them- not a single one has worked since the Cannery- and that went into foreclosure as well- despite a very high rental occupancy rate. (Rain was one of the initial developers in that project- but left early when it was pretty clear that his partners, Beth Duke and Dave Williams had a different vision. Williams, by the way, after flopping a big project in Clayton, got hired by CityWide).

Before he died, Alan Rinzler once told me that he owned the only building in the central business district (the Talbot Tower) that hadn’t been foreclosed on). This is how damaged the Downtown real estate market is.

Considering the city has been going to town issuing tickets to home owners in South Park for peeling paint (I completed painting 3 of my houses this summer)  it’s crazy that this boondoggle hasn’t brought the wrath of Nan onto someone (I’m pretty sure my neighbors are paying for my sins).

A contract between Student Suites and the city required Student Suites to provide the city “with a fully executed copy of a payment and performance bond issued by a surety authorized to do business in Ohio and acceptable to the city … which bond will guarantee completion of the developer’s obligations under this agreement and payment in full of all contractors, material suppliers and others who contribute to the design and construction of the project.”

Student Suites has not provided proof of the performance bond, Sorrell said, although it did pay to insure the demolition activities.

The city’s Housing Inspection Division last year issued a violation to Students Suites ordering the LLC to remove trash and debris from the area. The city says there was no response to the order, which was sent by registered mail to Student Suites’ Independence, Mo., offices.

Whoa, wait- the demolition permit was issued before the proof of performance bond was filed on a project this big? And Sorrell still has a job?

The final chilling end to Bennish’s piece, suggest more of our tax dollars will go to prop up this clusterduck:

Dayton officials are now working to see how they can at least secure the building from the weather before winter arrives.

“We are very concerned about getting it done in the next month or so,” Dickstein said. “With the freeze and rain there is exposure on the historic building. It’s an important project and we want to see it be successful.”

If no one comes to the table, Dickstein said, “We will explore our abilities to move forward with enforcement action on the historic building and move forward to preserve the building and remove the blight and fill in the hole in the ground.”

A good start would be firing Sorrell and Dickstein, and then liquidating CityWide Development to pay for the fixes, and then dismantle the Downtown Dayton Partnership and start returning the tax to the property owners. Those who want the common area maintenance performed by the “Ambassadors” (minimum wage workers in green shirts hired by an out-of-state firm)  can band together to hire their own street sweepers.

Then, maybe, we can learn to leave the development to the private sector and concentrate on providing basic city services like plowing snow and collecting leaves, and hanging basketball nets on city courts.

Hookah bar hell

Hookah Star Hookah Bar

Hookah Hell on Wayne Avenue

When I went in to contest my property taxes on Monday, Aug 3rd, I pointed out that since 2009, my street has been disrupted by frequent police calls to 121 Bonner Street. They average about one safety force call every other week. Yet, my property values have almost doubled in 15 years- despite me making zero improvements to my house- other than to add security systems after frequent break-ins.

The people on the “Board of Revision” tried to tell me this had nothing to do with my property values. I asked them if they were crazy and continued. I pointed out that I’d been told by prospective tenants that they wouldn’t live that close to the neighborhood cancer.

They asked when I showed them actual sale prices of houses much larger than my cottages for much less, if I’d sell my cottages for what I said they were worth- and I said no, but, I’d have a hard time having an open house, because the potential buyers would be treated to what I have to deal with on a daily basis- open pit burning of things that don’t smell like wood, loud music, arguments, people, truck exhausts as they rev the engine, shirtless males, with foul mouths, the list goes on. I will say that they do take very good care of their grass, and the house doesn’t have garbage all around like the two shitholes catty corner at Bonner and Johnson, where we’ve known drugs were being sold. One of them recently had a chimney topple and fall through a first floor roof right into the kitchen. A quick roof patch job was the solution- after the hole was open for a few weeks!

The house next door couldn’t keep good tenants in it, and has been on the market for coming on 7 or 8 months. It’s been broken into many times, the air conditioner stolen, even with security systems.

And now we come to today’s news:

Dayton police are investigating after a man was shot outside a hookah bar on Wayne Avenue Sunday morning.

Officers were first dispatched to disperse a large crowd at the Hookah Star and Smoke Shop at 1243 Wayne Avenue around 3 a.m. Sunday.

Dayton police Sgt. Roberta Bailey said that while officers attempted to clear the crowd both inside and outside the bar, around five shots were heard by officers from behind the establishment. A signal ‘99’ for officer assistance was requested when the shots were heard, prompting a response from several surrounding jurisdictions in Montgomery County.

Source: Shooting victim found outside Dayton hookah bar

When I first moved into the neighborhood, this oddly newer building on Wayne, with the parking lot in front, breaking the consistent street rhythm of buildings lined up like soldiers in formation along the sidewalk. It was a Lawson’s store- a lot like a UDF, but with the addition of a real deli, where you could get sliced meats and cheeses. I used to shop there. It closed long ago, and hasn’t had a steady tenant for years despite the proliferation of convenience stores. Apparently, a convenience store that can’t be seen until you’re passing it isn’t in high demand.

Last year, a young guy whom the neighborhood has come to know as “Tiger” turned it into the “Hookah Star Smoke and Juice Bar” since it doesn’t have a liquor license. Looking at the refuse outside the bar every Sunday morning will tell you that there is plenty of alcohol being consumed inside- either poured from flasks or the bottles that are littering our streets each week. Apparently, since there is no liquor, closing time is flexible as well- with the party going on all night long, inside and outside this “fine establishment.” The crowd is young, with a lot of 18- to 24-year-olds, who like to peel out around the ‘hood with their tuner cars as they leave between 3 and 5 a.m. Not long ago, the owner discharged his own gun inside to give the patrons a good idea of who’s the boss.

Neighbors have been complaining all summer long about the joint. Tiger built a sturdy fence around the back of his lot- to keep the patrons who use it like an outdoor party park, from being seen and video taped by the residents of Historic South Park. The Eagles lot next door, the tire store, South Park Tavern’s lots- after they were closed, had become additional overflow parking for the party palace.

Lots of calls to the police, to zoning, to the city, with very little response, until finally a few weeks ago, when the cops starting showing up en masse at 3 a.m. to shut the place down- making our neighborhood into a racetrack for the little rats scurrying away from the scrutiny of the law. We had more traffic on our side streets at 3 a.m. than all day, thanks to Hookah Hell.

Dayton Police had heard rumors of some massive parties coming across the city as the summer was ending. Curfew sweeps were to begin, picking up kids under 18 out after 11 p.m. The Hookah bar was one of the targets. The kids get taken to the patrol headquarters, where residents staff the phones, calling parents to come pick up their wayward lieges. Last night was to be another night of residents pitching in to do work we pay taxes for.

The sweep happened at 11, and the Hookah bar was a stop. Then again at 3 a.m., the DPD did as it did last week, the cops came to close the place down. Last night, things didn’t go quite as planned as one of the patrons decided to get shot by another. Don’t say you didn’t see this coming.

Multiple police calls to the same location almost invariably are a good predictor of future troubles. Somehow, our understaffed police force, impotent prosecutors, and lackluster leadership can’t seem to figure this out.

It will be interesting to see if the Hookah Star Smoke shop and Juice Bar is back in business after this last incident, or if we’ll keep having problems until someone actually dies.

Why it takes so long for Dayton to figure out how to take care of neighborhood cancers is beyond comprehension. Maybe if they really understood that quality of life is the number one factor in “economic development” – not brick sidewalks, and occupancy rates, we’d actually make some progress that would justify the tax hikes they believe are warranted. Even for those of us who have to live with a cancer nearby.

What can be done to help guide urban youth?

The “brilliant people” who think that this is rocket science- really don’t get it. This is the preamble and a few excerpts from the beginning of a  panel discussion in the DDn today.

Editor’s note: Teens acting out, pushing the envelope, is nothing new. Yet, when large groups come together to cause trouble at citywide events, as has occurred several times in downtown Dayton in the last year, it affects not just the youth and their families, but the city as a whole. Our partners at asked what can be done to build a more cohesive relationship with our city’s future citizens, ensuring a safe environment for all. The conversation staffers Vivienne Machi and Kamron Taylor had with four community activists touched upon issues relevant not just in Dayton, but in any community….

Brian LaDuca: If the problem is student/teen behavior as it relates (to) downtown, then I see the problem simply being a lack of well lit, invigorating communal spaces. Skate parks, music shells, dynamic store front designs (not necessarily actual stores).

Marlon Shackelford: The 5 percent of teens who are miseducated and misguided are guiding and educating the 95 percent that are bored, have idle time, are angry, and who are looking for something to do. There’s a lack of mentors and “womentors,” and a lack of efficient programs for teens.

Jonetta White: …We can no longer have this “hands-off” approach to being a community. Adults should feel responsible for ensuring the well being of their children and for the children of the community. It takes a community to raise a child, and adults cannot be afraid to step up in the lives of young people who may not have any other positive, adult influences.

Catherine Crosby: It impacts the attractiveness of the City overall. It impacts our ability to recruit companies and families to move into the City because it creates a perception that the City is unsafe.

Source: What can be done to help guide urban youth? |

I’m sorry- I’ve been to every park in this city. Every school yard. For the last three years, I’ve hung about 500 green basketball nets. I’ve cleared basketball courts of weeds and debris. This year, I am also running a social soccer program in my neighborhood. Today, we couldn’t play. You know why?

The city of Dayton can't cut their own grass.

The grass is taller than a full size soccer ball at Burns Jackson Park

The grass at Burns Jackson park was taller than a full size soccer ball this morning. The field had also been run over by several cars- since the cable fence is broken. This isn’t rocket science. When I moved to this neighborhood we had 2 basketball courts- now we’re waiting on them to refinish 1. We had playable tennis courts. People used to play softball all the time in the park- now you can’t see a mound, baselines and weeds are higher than the benches.

The city is about to spend a half a million on the old Society Bank/Third National building- despite it’s appraisal at $350K- and 2 other private bidders. They have no stated public use or public plan for the building. They have yet to do anything with any of the other 3 half-million dollar buildings they over paid for. They have money to buy other peoples property- but they can’t take care of their own.

Drive by Delco Park in Kettering anytime. All the soccer fields are well groomed, properly graded and have soccer goals. Look at the ball parks- full of people every night. Kids, adults. Dayton- nope. Can’t play soccer on a Sunday morning because Fred Stoval and company can’t cut the grass.

So, try as you might to do something with “urban youth”- good luck. After I started showing photos of the sorry condition of all of our basketball courts in my last run for City Commission- the city was guilted into spending a million bucks doing long overdue repair and replacement of courts across the city. Maybe by September they will finish the remaining basketball court in South Park- maybe not.

A city that can’t do basic maintenance has no business being in charge of anything. You want a community that people can be proud of? Learn to cut your grass.


Misguided water protection protests

Photo of BP fuel farm on Brandt Pike in Dayton Ohio

On Brandt Pike there is this little chemical storage facility- right over the aquifer.

The Dayton Citizens Water Brigade are absolutely right- we need to protect the Dayton well field and our aquifer.

However, protesting the changes in the boundaries and rules on hazardous chemical storage above the well field isn’t the real elephant in the living room.

No one wants to discuss the fact that the BP fuel storage facility is sitting directly over the aquifer with millions of gallons of toxic fuel- connected via underground pipes. Or that there are a few superfund sites already on top of the well field that are being managed, but are still dangerous.

If we really cared about our drinking water protection- we’d do the following things:

Work to move the BP Fuel farm away from our drinking water supply.

Find some large industrial users of water to start drawing down the well field. Since Delphi closed down and we got a Racino- one of our major users of industrial water dried up- and the water table has been rising. As it rises, it has better chance of connecting with superfund contamination- and of flooding downtown buildings- which are already running into issues with heavy rains.

The city attempted to jack up industrial bulk water at the same time as they jumped our residential water bills (yes, you pay double or more than what you used to). Cargill decided to drill their own wells- others left. Nice job City leaders.

The issue isn’t an additional cutting lathe or spray booth- the issue is large scale storage of industrial solvents, chemicals and, oh yeah, gasoline, on top of the well field, to prevent another Sherwin Williams type disaster.

Proper firewalls, retention systems, fireproof vaults, etc – can handle daily industrial production uses. Let’s update the Dayton Well Field Protection Ordinance to make common sense fixes.

Let’s get focused on what matters, and what could contaminate our water supply right now, not on the small stuff.

Dayton continues wild spending on real estate with your tax dollars

Demolition of old DP&L Steam plant at Webster and E. Third St

$165K of your tax dollars to do demolition to the old DP&L Steam plant at Webster and E. Third St

It’s not very far from 34 N. Main Street, along East Third Street, over to Webster Street. There, the city is spending $165,000 to demolish a building they bought for development that didn’t happen.
Or, just a few blocks West and South to the hole in the ground, where the Dayton Daily news building was, along with the beautiful terra cotta tower, formerly known as the Schwind building.

Another investment, and another fail. The city spent over $1.25 million demolishing the Schwind- when they wouldn’t help a proven local developer renovate it for $1.8 million- as a loan plus tax credits. The “developer” they chose- has forgotten about this project.

The city spent $450K on the building on Wayne Avenue next to Garden Station, where an out of town developer was going to do something amazing. So, far, all that happened was that it freaked out the people who had invested so much of their time and energy turning what was city owned hobo land, into something amazing. No one has explained why the city long ago bought that piece of vacant property from the railroad for something like $110K.

We’re still in the midst of a deal debacle, where the city spent $500K to buy a piece of land that had the Cliburn Manor housing on it- for speculation, only to find out they sold it to a neighbor- “accidentally” for $650.

Nope, their investment record sucks. And this isn’t new. The Arcade. The Arcade Tower. The West Dayton YMCA. A downtown property owner told me there were only two buildings that hadn’t gone into bankruptcy- only 2 of all the office towers.

So, when we see the city spending $500K to buy the old Third National/Society/Key Bank building out of receivership- the one, where the previous owner stupidly shut the utilities off, without winterizing the building- causing pipes to freeze- burst and soak the place from the top down, creating a major mold issue according to sources, you have to wonder what’s in it for the taxpayers?

And why are we, the taxpayers, outbidding others- who will use private money, and pay taxes on the property? And, overbidding $150K from the appraised value as insult to injury?

From today’s Dayton Daily news:

Jonathan Hung, court-appointed receiver for the property, has asked the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court to approve the sale of the Paru Tower, 34 North Main Street, to the city for $500,000.

“The building is in surprisingly good condition, given its age and given how long it has sat on the market,” Hung said.

The 14-story tower was built in 1926 to house the Third National Bank and Trust Company. It later became the Society Bank building. The Montgomery County treasurer valued the building at $6.3 million in 2000, but in later years its value dropped dramatically.

In 2010 a self-proclaimed Hindu guru, Annamalai Annamalai, who called himself Dr. Commander Selvam, bought the building. Its value then was listed by the county at $1 million. Selvam’s renovation plans never materialized. Last year Selvam was convicted of securities fraud in Georgia and is serving a sentence of 27 years in federal prison.

According to the county treasurer, the current owner owes $257,193 in back taxes on the property. The most recent appraisal, paid for by the receiver, put the market value of the building at $350,000. That same appraisal listed the building’s best use as “speculation or development as a Historic Tax Credit market rate apartment community.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said purchasing the tower would “be consistent with the city’s intent to secure key properties downtown so that reuse is an orderly process.”

Two other bidders made attempts to buy the building across from Courthouse Square, but the city’s bid was the highest.

“I earnestly believe this is the best offer that we have, not what we expected. I think all parties believed the property was worth more,” Hung said.

Source: City wants to purchase downtown Paru Tower

Hung is right. This is the best offer. It’s easy to spend other people’s money to make speculative investments. Of course, when you spend half a million to get elected to a mayor’s job that pays $45K a year, this kind of stupid disregard for the public’s money shouldn’t be a surprise. Way to go Mayor Whaley.

It’s time to ask the question that’s been bugging me for a long time: is there a building the city has successfully developed and sold at market rates? Or sustained as a profitable investment?


It’s time we pass a charter amendment stopping the city from purchasing any real estate that isn’t expressly for the public use. End of story.

Dayton tax dollars being donated to the rich

The Talbott Tower is owned by Allan Rinzler. He’s not exactly hurting for cash- he can afford to donate enough money to have a sports complex named after himself at Wright State. The Talbott tower is one of the higher occupancy towers left in downtown- in fact, I remember Mr. Rinzler telling me it’s one of the only ones to not go into bankruptcy/foreclosure.

And this is probably one of the reasons why:

The corporate headquarters for YMCA of Greater Dayton is moving to an office building across the street in downtown Dayton.

The YMCA is finalizing a lease at the Talbott Tower for 9,000 square feet for its corporate headquarters. The organization’s headquarters are currently in an 8,000-square-foot space in the 111 W. 1st St. building across the street. The deal will keep the group’s 30 employees, with a total payroll of $1.25 million, in downtown. Those employees will continue to support downtown retailers, and pay Dayton income taxes.

“We were presented with a great opportunity and we’re excited to go over to the Talbott Tower,” said Dale Brunner, president and CEO. “We’re excited to sign it and stay part of the downtown area.”

The city of Dayton on Wednesday morning approved a $75,000 neighborhood grant to help the Talbott Tower fund about $150,000 worth of renovations in the new space, in order to keep the YMCA in downtown. That decision reflects the fact that nonprofits are now among the most dynamic office users in downtown, and the most sought after by office tower landlords looking to fill their vacancies.

Bob Grabringer, property manager for the tower, will act as the construction manager and will hire subcontractors with whom he already has a relationship.

Source: Dayton YMCA to move HQ into Talbott Tower – Dayton Business Journal

That’s $75K of your money- enough to pay a cop or two for a year, or mow an awful lot of empty lots- or tear down a few abandoned homes. If you were the owner of the building across the street that the Y was moving away from- you could use that money to try to keep the Y in your building, but that’s not how it works in Dayton. We take care of those who take care of those who run for office.

This isn’t the first time Rinzler has been on the receiving end of a good taxpayer funded deal- he was one of the partners that owned the old Sears building downtown, along with the Feldmans (our former county administrators family), Mr. Sandy Mendelson, Mr. Jason Liff and Irvin Moskowitz all got a nice bit of action to make sure that the county could put a fountain on a tiny bit of that parcel. Bought for $200K and sold for over $8 million.

There are lots of other developers who have gotten support from the city- and still ended up in bankruptcy. Your tax dollars contributed to the Arcade, the Arcade Tower, the former CitFed, 5/3rd bank and now Premier Health Tower, all of which failed.

Don’t you wonder if all the money that’s been squandered on “economic development” had been spent on cleaning and repairing streets, safety forces, better schools, parks- and getting out of the way of developers- we might never have taken a dive. Or if we hadn’t raised our income tax over that of every other community- since it was collected from non-residents- who have now all voted with theit feet to the mecca of tax-free income (if you are a white collar employee only) at Austin Landing.

Tax dollars that are spent in pursuit of tax dollars are dollars a lot like a certain cartoon character who used to say, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”- but, Tuesday never seems to come to Dayton.

Dayton makes another mess of “economic development”

Eric Segalewitz isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he’s a good guy, who invested a lot of his money, time and labor buying almost the entire block of houses across from the former DMHA shithole Cliburn Manor. He did this without any assistance from the city, CityWide or anyone else. Most people thought he was crazy- why would you want to invest or live across from a drug infested, crime den public housing project?

He did it- because he had the foresight to know that eventually Miami Valley Hospital and UD would surgically remove the neighborhood cancer- and then his real estate would be valuable.

He’s not the only one who had some vision of profiting from their grand plans. Jimmy Brandeis of Jimmie’s Ladder 11 held out for his sweetheart deal to move Jimmie’s Cornerstone across the street, with a parking lot, a huge patio, and double the space.

Fred Allen, a local slumlord, sold two of his shit-hole houses for $150K each, way above market value.

There are still a few holdouts- the antique store at Oak and Warren, which was at one time owned by South Park Social Capital won’t sell out. Neither will the Krafts who own the last two remaining homes on Warren’s West side.

Some people think Segalewitz is trying to fleece the city for their incompetence. But, if we look at the cast of characters revealed in today’s Dayton Daily news article- it’s the same incompetent crew that’s driven the cart off the road before with impunity:

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, admitted the city erred but questioned Segalewitz’s legal right to the land.

He said the city has no plan to fork over a big payout for administrative oversight.

“We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” he said.Segalewitz, 50, who owns the company Upscale Realty, a few years ago applied to purchase a vacant lot next to his home at 32 Alberta St.

Segalewitz applied for the land through Dayton’s Lot Links program, which allows people to buy abandoned, tax-delinquent properties for a relatively small fee.

Segalewitz’s request was approved, and he paid about $650 for the property, which was transferred in March 2012.

The lot belonged to the city of Dayton, which had purchased it from Greater Dayton Premier Management in December 2011, as part of a larger land deal.

The city acquired the side lot and 5 acres across Alberta Street for about $340,000, or its appraised value, city officials said. The two parcels were part of the same deed.

The five acres was the former site of the Cliburn Manor housing projects, which were demolished in 2008. The city wanted the land to support redevelopment efforts near South Park and Miami Valley Hospital.

But when the deed was written to transfer the vacant lot to Upscale Realty, it also unintentionally contained the Cliburn real estate, Sorrell said.“We made a mistake with the deed and inadvertently put both pieces of property on the deed, and not just the one he wanted,” Sorrell said.

The quit claim deed was signed on Feb. 27, 2012, by Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Assistant City Attorney Jonathan Croft.

Segalewitz said he only learned he owned the deed to the Cliburn property about six weeks ago while preparing to sell his Alberta Street home and the adjoining lot.

Source: City redevelopment tract mistakenly sold

Sorrell was the one who also said “Oops” when Rauch Demolition mistakenly tore down the back part of the historic Cox building at Fourth and Ludlow. He’s also the one who signed off on tearing down the Schwind building for the “Student Suites” deal which isn’t happening due to a deed restriction that was well known.

Shelly Dickstein was the braintrust in charge of the development deal for the Wayne Avenue Kroger where the city jumped through hoops for over 4 years- with no contract in place, which was well documented on this site. The city had no problem paying over $800K for the burned out Ecki building and then demolishing it to make an empty lot, despite the building being an eyesore and owing taxes.

The real question is why does the city insist on buying real estate at all? Why did they spend over $100,000 long ago to buy the lot now known as Garden Station? Why did they buy the building behind it (which I did a FOIA request on – and got no answer). Why did they buy the old Supply One building and 601 E. Third for $450K each?

And the “We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” line sure is funny. Go back to when a group including the family of the former County Administrator Deb Feldman purchased the Sears building downtown for a mere $200K. When the Riverscape fountain plan was released, the County hadn’t secured the tiny outlot attached to the Sears property. In a battle of testosterone and threats of using eminent domain, the price escalated from the initial offer of $3.2 million to over $8 million for that piece of land. Segalewitz just isn’t related to the right people apparently.

The fact that Segalewitz didn’t get a tax bill for his windfall- is because CityWide and MVH don’t pay taxes- nor does the city. And the city will grant a sweetheart tax break to Oberer/Greater Dayton Construction for building whatever they come up with on the property. Segalewitz is one of the little people- he’s expected to pay taxes unlike the connected few.

It’s time to do a full investigation of city land purchases, real estate investment, and money to CityWide development. A full detailing of the investment in Tech Town and the “Entrepreneurs Center”- and the actual returns might be a good starting point.

While we don’t have money to cut the grass in City parks, but do have the money to buy swath’s of land for our friends is a criminal diversion of tax dollars. Segalewitz is not the bad guy. The bad guys are on our payroll.


Uh, no. You still don’t get “economic development” Dayton

Earth to dumbasses the geniuses on the Dayton City Commission, sorry, too little too late.

Sure, your brilliant idea to turn the temporary tax hike into a permanent one seemed like such a brilliant idea- as you watch the last of your victims of taxation without representation move to the tax-free haven of 2nd story jobs at Austin Landing (only the little people on the first floor pay income taxes there).

It wasn’t just the 2.25% income tax, or the fact that they have to pay to park, but, then you had to add a Special Improvement Tax to pay for the “Downtown Dayton Partnership” which hires a Kentucky company to do what building owners used to do for themselves, and cities used to do as part of the general tax. Oh, yes, and then there was the issue of the kids running the streets- during “Urban Fights” – I mean, “Urban Nights” and the general issues around the bus hub. Oh, and, the fact that you let the feds shut down almost every downtown exit on 75 for years- forcing detours and slowdowns to get to downtown- while Austin Landing has that ridonkulously overpriced new exit. You know- the one you tacitly approved of in your “partnership” with ED/GE- another tax funded slush fund that takes hard-working taxpayers’ money and gives it to private corporations- or “invests it” to help out the rich and powerful.

Here’s the “story” from the Dayton Daily news:

While residential real estate in downtown Dayton booms, there is a different tale with commercial development, as entire high-rises remain vacant and workers continue an exodus to suburban office plazas.

Now, after years of losing downtown jobs, the city of Dayton has a new strategy for fighting back.

The Dayton City Commission last week approved a sweeping change to its existing ordinances on property tax breaks in the downtown district that — for the first time — will make incentives available to proposed commercial/office and industrial developments. Those breaks could be 25 percent or higher.

The city will negotiate the breaks with the developer along with the Dayton School Board, which must be consulted by law. The breaks will be allowed in other Community Reinvestment Act areas in the city as well….

Said Mayor Nan Whaley: “We need these tools to be aggressive in attracting business to downtown.”…

Also part of the city’s changes:

Source: New strategy: Commercial developers to get tax breaks

How about this instead:

  • Stop all tax dollar incentive for private businesses that aren’t available universally for job creation- i.e., no single company benefits. Either you meet the payroll criteria or not. This would be countywide.
  • Eliminate all tax-free zones in the county. Flatten the income tax rate to 1.5% on all wages above $24,000 per year per person. Distribute it to each jurisdiction based on numbers of people according to the latest census. No more overhead for small business in trying to figure out payroll per employee per location worked per tax rate.
  • Eliminate any tax support for outside organizations involved with “economic development” forcing all tax dollars to go to actual public services. End support of CityWide Development, The Downtown Dayton Partnership, ED/GE, the Dayton Development Coalition, the I-75 whatever you call it, and even MVRPC. Tax dollars go to projects for taxpayers- cut out middlemen, cut out slush funds, and eliminate overhead.
  • Put a moratorium on new construction unless you buy and demolish an equal number of units/square feet in the county. Get double construction credit for rehab/restore/repurpose of any structure over 50 years old.
  • Until we’re back to pumping at 80% capacity- give away water to large business users in exchange for jobs and investment. The costs of flooding basements is higher.
  • Grant tax breaks for people who work downtown and live downtown to eliminate parking problems. Grant them a break on the first $50,000 of income.

That’s how you can begin to address your problems. Cutting funding for schools is the absolute LAST thing Dayton needs to do right now, that is if you don’t want to see an exodus of the last remaining victims of your bad stewardship of Dayton and its resources for the last 50 years.


Slush fund, Architect and Developer: the three ring circus of public/private partnerships

The very first slide started with an oops, another oops, and another oops.

Up steps Steve Budd of CityWide Development (the slush fund) with a slide of the holdings of CityWide, Miami Valley Hospital and maybe even the University of Dayton between 35 and Wyoming Street along the Brown/Warren corridor. And, no, we won’t mention the words we used to call this development (Mid-Park) because we know it ticks off the people we’re talking to (South Park) about our little circus.

The map with the yellow line was showing “all the property we own” except for the little antique shop at Oak and Warren according to Mr. Budd. Except he quickly was asked if he owned Jimmie’s Ladder 11, Spin City- and oh yeah, the two houses that are left on the West side of Warren- where the powers that be haven’t made an offer with enough commas in it yet.

Aerial view of Warren Street

The “owned” area in yellow- the red, added by me, is the stuff that’s not owned by the developers including Spin City, Jimmie’s Ladder 11, the Antique Shop and the two houses on the west side of Warren

I’ve marked the known “not owned” in red- inside the yellow border of “owned” for clarification. No mention was made of the fact the city had “misdeeded” some of the real estate in question in a lot links deal- and someone may be holding out for another pretty paycheck.

Why they were talking to the neighborhood at all is a really good question. At no point have they come to us, the neighborhood, and actually asked what we want- just what we want to see as tenants in their grand building plans- you know, the norm- a grocery store, a hardware store, a book store…

The parcel in question came into their hands when DMHA/GDPM gave up on their “projects” off Warren which were part of the 60’s 70’s “urban renewal” programs- where they tore down perfectly good housing stock that had lost its luster and replaced it with crap construction of ugly buildings dropped out of the sky into our ‘hood. The promise then was that it was going to be “senior housing” – the only thing senior about it, “Cliburn Manor,”  when I moved into South Park in 1986 was it looked like it was near death.

So the slush fund has to make sure they have another success story in the portfolio of mismanaged tax-dollar aided projects, and is bequeathed the federal property to manage. They seek out a developer, who is willing to take a “great risk” building something in the city of Dayton- so they promise to make them whole, no matter how silly the project scope and scale is.

In this case, the developer is Oberer. The same people who did the funky deal on the Dille Farm, where they built a Costco in Centerville, but expect ambulances from Sugarcreek Township- as once again, government had inserted itself unnaturally in the middle of a real estate deal. They have hired, at considerable expense, some research firm to tell them that there is a market for the 200 plus units they’ve plotted and planned for the aforementioned area. Of course, they are going to do this deal with OPM (other people’s money) and are guaranteed by the taxpayer-funded slush fund that they won’t lose a dime- since we know we’ll make income tax go up while you build it- and who cares if anyone actually comes. They just have to “git ‘r done” and have something rise from the green space. Filling the space won’t even fall back on them. Look at how CityWide still hasn’t found a ground floor tenant for the old Elder Beerman/ReyReyTAC building downtown.

If you need an example of another project that was done like this, go study the history of One Arcade Tower/One Dayton Center/Fifth/Third Center– or whatever they call it at the corner of Third and Main. The one that wasn’t supposed to be built until 33% of it was leased- but, we ignored it and built it anyway…. and lost our butts.

In our third ring of the circus, we have the architect. While an equal player at this point- he’s really going to end up the ringmaster later, once construction begins, but for now, he’s just another part of the distraction engine that’s trying to divert attention from the fact that Dayton is looking at these new construction projects like the Cleveland Browns do when playing the Patriots- let’s keep throwing Hail Mary passes because we’ve already lost 8 of 12 and aren’t going anywhere.

The architect, in this case, Jason Sheets of Moda 4, is a super talented guy who makes cheap look chic, and clean and classy. The only problem is, we’ve already got a few examples up Brown Street that make anything look like an improvement- namely the horribly ugly and dysfunctional “University Place” that Miller Valentine built at the corner of Stewart and Brown- which still isn’t full- years later- and almost every restaurant has taken a year to build out- because of poor planning by the “architects” – and then the other Miller Valentine embarrassment- the heinously ugly mishmash finish Caldwell Street housing that replaced the irreplaceable Frank Z building on Brown. His role in this is to keep billing while everyone else argues about the plan.

Moda 4 just completed the Goodwill Building across from Coco’s- the one with the expansive parking lot- and the stark cold exterior. Not exactly a good match for eclectic South Park- but, we’re trying here.

We’ve already got a CityWide case study up in Fairgrounds- where the Genesis Project built a whole bunch of funky houses and row houses for “DINCS” and hospital employees and UD Profs- that was promised never to become student housing (they lied). Where roofs are leaking less than 10 years out, taxes are kicking in at the same time, and what was supposed to be full of homeowners- is now in flux.

As the homeowners filed out, wondering if what they’d been shown was anything like what will be built, one after another in the Goodwill parking lot- looked across the street at Marvin Gardens, which is owned by St. Mary Development Corp.- and thought- why can’t they build something that looks like that?

Marvin Garden Apartments on Warren Street

Marvin Gardens Apartments as seen from Goodwill parking lot

So as neighbors sat and looked at the presentation, with mouths agape, wondering what planet these people were from, they were serving their ultimate, yet, unrevealed role they will be used for in the future.

As the project sputters and spurts, the three-ring acts will be able to point at the neighbors and blame them for the delays, mistakes and failures that are to come, as the city shirks its responsibility to do what it’s supposed to- mainly sweep and repair streets, provide public services and safety forces and keep the lights on.

The only question that really needs to be answered is why the property wasn’t just sold off to the highest bidder and let them do as they please?
In the end, the results will probably be about the same.