Why South Park property values rise

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.”

via Most Montgomery County homes lose value | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

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.

Why Historic South Park should be in your future: reasons #2438, 2439

Poster for Historic South Park in Dayton Ohio's Shakespeare production of "The Comedy of Errors"

Historic South Park has it’s own neighborhood theater.

Do your neighbors get together and throw together a play? And not just any play- Shakespeare?

Didn’t think so. Not only that- do they invite the world to see it for FREE?

Yep- you can do that tonight, tomorrow and Sunday nights-

Show: The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Director: Susan Robert
Producers: Galen Wilson, Phyllis Tonne

How To Go:
Dates: Friday-Sunday, September 5, 6, 7, 2014
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Location: South Park Green, 601 Hickory Street, Dayton
Admission: Free (donations gratefully received)
Bring a lawn chair or blanket

via The Comedy of Errors | Shakespeare in South Park | Sixth Season | Sept. 5-7 – Historic South Park.

You can park in Emerson School lot, or Hope Lutheran lot- or on the street.

And if the stodgy speaking of the Bard just ain’t your thing-

Poster for the Food Truck Shindig in Dayton Ohio's fabulous Historic South Park Neighborhood

First the Bard, then the lard- gourmet chefs on the go come to South Park

Yep, we have our own food truck Shindig & Street party on Friday Sept 20th from 4-8pm. The party will be down at Burns and Nathan one block South of Coco’s. We’ll have trucks, tunes, t-shirts and more- and the event is free, even though the food isn’t.

These community initiatives are one of the reasons why South Park’s property taxes go up. Come see what the neighborhood you wished you lived in does to keep things interesting.

Check out www.historicsouthpark.org for info on events, rentals, homes for sale and what makes South Park the best neighborhood in the State of Ohio, and a National Neighborhood of the year winner. The site, btw, is hosted pro-bono by The Next Wave, Dayton’s greatest and finest ad agency, which has its global HQ in South Park.

Note, both these fabulous posters were done by other fabulously talented South Park residents.

How hot is the South Park rental market?

A neighbor asked me to help find a tenant for her half double last week. She’s not that computer literate and very busy.

I posted on Facebook, Nov 20 around 1:30pm:

To all my friends who want to live in South Park- my neighbor ___________ has a half a double on Adams Street. 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath- nice, $525 a month.
Pets possible. No smoking.
Contact her at _____________ for a showing or details, and if you can’t get her- call me, ______________
It’s available now.
Spread the word.

Within an hour- my phone rang. By 6pm the house was rented- cash paid for deposit and first months rent.

I never had to list on Craigs List- I didn’t have to put a post on this site- just Facebook and friends.

Does this happen anywhere else in the City of Dayton? I don’t think so.

Do any of our city commissioners have a clue on what builds a neighborhood back up? I can tell you that this doesn’t happen in Edgemont (Dean Lovelace) or Five Oaks (Nan Whaley) or FROC (Joey Williams sort of) or even Belmont (Matt Joseph), and it’s not happening in Walnut Hills either (sorry Mayor Leitzell). There is a vibe in South Park that all started here:

I’m not trying to take all the credit- but, the idea that it’s the people, not the houses that make the difference was a big departure from the previous attempts at marketing the neighborhood. Previously everything was “Victorian” – after it was fun- and friends.
Building community is what saves the houses folks- not the other way around.

Welcome to Nicole- our soon to be newest neighbor.

South Park open house today

Fifteen years or so ago- I noticed a whole lot of houses in the neighborhood for sale. I organized a neighborhood open house. Each realtor or for sale by owner was invited to join. For the cost of one half of one percent of the homes’ listed price, you would be included on a map of the homes that was to be available on the day of the tour- and we’d support it with ads in the paper, and a radio campaign. We had something like 25 houses on the tour that day- and it was a huge success.

A few realtors thought they should get special treatment since they had more listings and tried to welch. A few people didn’t pay- but had their homes open too- but overall- it worked.

Yesterday, on social media, I found out that ten homes will be open in the ‘hood today- including a few beauties. It was organized organically- and I have nothing to do with it. However- this is what the people of South Park do so well- and it’s why our neighborhood can truly stand by its tagline “where neighbors become friends”

If you are in the market for a new home- come on down.

Sunday, November 3rd from 2 to 4 p.m., ten homes will be open and available to tour. If you are looking for a new place to call home, a fixer upper or just want to see what it would be like to live in a great neighborhood like South Park, be sure to stop on by during our Neighborhood Open House!

Everything starts at Ghostlight Coffee1201 Wayne Ave. There we will have maps of the houses featured during the Open House, neighborhood information, great java. From there you’ll begin your tour of our friendly streets and open homes.

Here’s a list of the houses that will be open.

  • 217 Perrine – Michael Royce – Listing Link
  • 3 Bradford – Kamela & Co – Listing Link
  • 604 Oak – Kamela & Co  – Listing Link
  • 219 Adams – The Home Group – Listing Link
  • 14 Johnson-The Home Group
  • 15 Johnson-Private Seller – ready to rehab? This home could be your blank slate to create the home you’ve always wanted.
  • 28 Bonner-Private Owner – soon to be on the market
  • 208 Bonner-The Home Group – Listing Link
  • 121 James-The Home Group – Listing Link
  • 559 Wyoming-The Home Group – Listing Link

Be sure to stop by Blommel Park while you’re in the neighborhood. From 2 to 4 p.m. our social committee will be grilling up hot dogs and will be available to answer any questions you might have about the neighborhood.

Visit www.historicsouthpark.org/open13 to download a map
My personal favorite is 208 Bonner- this is one house I’d move into tomorrow- the only thing I’d change is the spike on the bottom of the Hamilton Dixon stair rail. It’s way too lethally sharp.
Also- 28 Bonner is interesting. It’s something that never fit in the neighborhood- that was recently purchased and totally retrofitted- showing that historic and non-historic can coexist and not be horribly out of place with a little bit of sensitivity.

MidPark? Part of someone’s plan.

If you’ve never heard of MidPark- don’t feel left out. A lot of people have no clue. It’s the working name for the little stretch of land between downtown Dayton and Miami Valley Hospital in the “middle of South Park” – well sort of. And a bunch of money is about to be spent there.

First off, you have to understand there are two South Parks. The original planning district which extends from Main to Wayne and 35/Buckeye Street to Wyoming/Woodland Cemetery. Around 1984 a bunch of people in the neighborhood decided they wanted the protections of a historic designation and had to collect signatures of a percentage of property owners to make it happen. This was the beginning of the great divide- the historic section with around 840 structures- and the non-historic part- which has been losing buildings at a crazy pace. Gone are the amazing old Todd Theater/Burlesque- which would have made an awesome music venue, a bunch of cool historic 3-story buildings- that would fit right into the Oregon District (one real beauty got replaced with a Rally’s – which then got replaced with a drugstore that’s just as ugly- and never opened).

The dividing line for historic/non-historic on the West side of the ‘hood was defined by Cliborne Manor- a Dayton Metropolitan Housing “urban renewal” debacle that lasted about 35 years. It took the place of Martin Sheen’s boyhood home among other things. It was torn down and turned into a giant green space about 3 years ago. The neighborhood has its horribly named South Park Urban Gardens there- SPUG- and not much else.

Originally, the neighborhood group was the South Park Improvement Council (SPIC) and had been in existence since 1903 or some such. Around 1995, we had to come up with a new name, and reformulate to regain our 501-c3 status which was lost over bad bookkeeping. I was responsible for the new name: Historic South Park, Incorporated- or HSPI. It somewhat alienated the “non-historic” part of the ‘hood, even though that part participated very little in our efforts.

As part of the deal of the demo of Cliborne Manor, we were promised a seat at the table. Apparently, when that seat was going to be made available wasn’t clear, because CityWide, MVH and UD seem to have handed the land over to Oberer Development/Greater Dayton Construction and they’ve already selected an architect, Jason Sheets of Moda4.

The neighborhood found this out at its May meeting, on the 28th. There seemed to be some dismay at how this project had gotten this far before we were brought in. One resident was downright angry- demanding promises that the proposed market rate housing have a guarantee that it won’t be section 8 housing in 10 years. She’d been lied to by DMHA 35 years ago- and wanted to make sure this wasn’t a repeat. Others thought new market rate housing would somehow lower prices of our existing property by glutting the market. Not quite sure of how that would happen, since most of our homes rent and sell for less than what they can build new for, but not everyone understands real estate- even if they are a so called “investor.”

What is being proposed is a mixed use 3-4 story building with retail/office on the first floors, possibly office space on 2nd and residential on 2-4. There are no drawings. There are no site plans, at least that’s what we were told. The area will be from Burns Avenue to Kline St, on the East side of Warren. There are two houses remaining on the strip- one belonging to former candidate for Dayton City Commission, Joe Lutz. He and his neighbor are holdouts against the man. Probably a good strategy, considering a less than reputable landlord got $150K each for two crap houses a bit further up on the Brown Street stub where Adams St. dead ends into Brown, just North of Oak St. Those properties were bought by a mysterious shell LLC called Rudy 32 LLC.

If you need a visual of a possible building, look at the corner of Stewart and Warren, where Miller Valentine built a butt fugly monstrosity for Grad students upstairs and retail on the first floor. It houses Fusian, Arbys, Bad Frog, Potbelly, Flyer Spirit, Smashburger, Shish Wraps and a Fifth Third branch- and has had trouble filling up thanks to bad design (it’s crazy difficult and expensive to route fans and vents for a kitchen through the upstairs) and it’s seriously under-parked.

Back when the Cliborne site was being considered as a possible Kroger location, somehow, via the Hospital, we were told Kroger couldn’t go there- and look, Midland Atlantic, the Kroger preferred developer showed us some relabeled plans from another development as a possibility for this space. The developer that they were fighting, was the local guy- with a proven track record- Jeff Samuelson from JZ Companies. He’s the one who started the revitalization of Brown Street single-handedly by bringing us Panera, Chipotle, Penn Station, Jimmy Johns, Skyline etc. Why he wasn’t invited to this new party is something we may never know. Maybe it’s because he did his magic without cutting the hospital in? Maybe because he drove prices and values up before they could buy it all?

Tomorrow, Tuesday June 11, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., the neighborhood and any other interested parties are invited to come to discuss the future of this piece of land. The meeting will be at the new Coco’s at 250 Warren Street in the private dining rooms in back. Better late than never.

In reality, the neighborhood had nothing more than a handshake promise on development plans. At this point, it’s not public money going in, although, it’s really unclear who put what money up to aggregate this space and was the Cliborne site ever properly sold at fair market value. CityWide Development is a quasi-public slush fund that has little oversight, and a lot of public tax dollars to play with.

And you also should ask, considering Dayton has a crazy high vacancy rate of both commercial space and residential property, both Dayton proper and regionally- having sprawled our way past our means, is more space really needed? Arguments are being made for new GE EPIS Center employees needing new options, as well as hospital and UD employees.

What the residents really want is a new grocery option. A Trader Joe’s in this space would have everyone happy- a Whole Foods or Fresh Fare would do too. It’s too bad Dorothy Lane Market wants to distance itself as far from non-white residents as possible, and has declined every overture to come north. There is also talk that UD is trying to entice a new grocery, possibly the people out of Cleveland who had been talking about a downtown location in the old Greyhound station in the Transportation Center garage.

What the demographers seem to be missing is that UD students aren’t really being counted as residents or rooftops in the equation. They think they all eat on campus in the dining halls. In the last few years, UD students have been getting wealthier and wealthier- as the prices have risen. Their Chinese students aren’t coming over to live in the Ghetto- instead, opting for the Greene. Someone said they saw a student in an Aston Martin the other day, wouldn’t surprise me at all. Considering that MVH, UD and the future GE center’s combined wages probably are making the area one of the highest income areas- that isn’t supported by a proper grocery (a South Park resident/foodie has been doing pricing comparisons between Kroger and finding gross differences in pricing and product selection and quality- more on that in the future).

Arguments could be made that MidPark is nothing more than urban sprawl infill- but, considering the city is also about to spend millions repaving and beautifying this stretch of road to match the section of Brown between Wyoming and Irving, maybe this is the new downtown Dayton, that’s viable?

We’ll find out more tomorrow. See you there?

 

The Feta connection: Halal International Market

We eat a lot of omelets here- and like feta for the cheese. Usually we go to Halal International Market and buy their bulk feta- but this morning we were out- and they weren’t open.

So- I went to Kroger.

$3 got me 4oz of feta- Halal charges $3.99lb for greek domestic feta.

To get to Halal- ignore the sign at the corner of Wayne and Keowee across from the Sunoco- Take Adams one block into South Park to Theobald court-  turn left and enter the market from the rear. They are behind the car lot.

The feta is in the deli case. They have 2 other “premium grades” of feta for $1 and $2 more- to my taste buds they are more creamy and less salty- and I prefer the denser, sharper less expensive Feta.

And a hint- to keep it fresh longer- keep it submerged in water in an airtight container.

Just another reason to shop local. Halal is also a great place to buy pita bread, spices, olive oil, and tea biscuits- so poke around.

Tell them Esrati sent you.

South Park as the Catalyst for a Greater Dayton?

It’s nice to see a good news piece about our neighborhood , Historic South Park, as the cover story of the Dayton City Paper. Despite what you may think about this neighborhood from reading the uncensored stories here- of my recent break-ins (which can almost all be connected directly with just a few bad actors).

The piece is written by one of our own- it’s PR for sure- but, it has the facts straight, unlike what you’d read in the Dayton Daily.

I particularly liked this quote- which if extrapolated- is also the answer for Dayton- greater Dayton, not just the city of…

While the physical layout of South Park contributes to its neighborliness, and an active neighborhood association aids its development, no single entity is strong enough to lift up a community on its own, according to urban historian Alexander von Hoffman. “For successful and sustained renewal, communities need a cadre of leaders who can change the perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation of their neighborhood,” von Hoffman said. “Leaders must coordinate the actions of its residents and create innovative alliances between local government, private investors, realtors, individuals, non-profit groups and law enforcement.”

via Building a better South Park : Dayton City Paper.

Note the part about “changing perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation”- it’s what’s missing in Dayton. We don’t have the vision- coming from a cadre of leaders- in fact, one would question if we’ve elected leaders at all in Dayton- we seem to have mouthpieces committed to the status quo. Find an elected leader having a conversation about change online- in public- or even mentioning things we could do.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of people to form the core cadre- but what it does take is a concerted effort to show a vision of where we could be- and how we’ll get there.

We’ve got too much dead weight in elected positions throughout “greater Dayton”- with all of our fiefdoms- it dilutes the strength of leadership and lends itself to largess and laziness.

But, back to the South Park article- we’ve seen a huge shift from around 70% rental properties to 70% resident-owned properties in the last 25 years I’ve been here. Because of a shared vision- we’ve seen neighbor after neighbor not only take care of their own houses- but, invest in others. The confidence in our shared vision has made the neighborhood vital and confident investment has followed.

Because I’m running for office- I’ll also point out, that I served as President for 2 years- and cultivated a successor- who was then followed by Karin Manovich. I took over a neighborhood that had been divided by the previous president- who liked to foster a class divide- I brought the neighborhood back together, mended fences and brought structure and order to meetings that had been running many hours- and got them under control. I was also the innovator who suggested the for-profit development corporation- South Park Social Capital, which was instrumental in transforming Skinner;s bar- a trouble spot, into the South Park Tavern.

None of the South Park miracle would have been possible without some of the things that I believe have been key to our success:

  • Definite boundaries with good natural divisions.
  • Historic zoning which has helped standardize expectations for repairs- and differentiated the neighborhood from others.
  • An amazing variety of housing stock, with something for everyone.
  • The central location with excellent highway access.
  • Good corporate neighbors- UD, MVH, NCR
  • A wide cross section of people in the community, from diverse professions, backgrounds and socio-economic diversity.
  • And most importantly the investment of MVH in supplying Community Based Police officers over the last 15 years. Without improved perception of law enforcement- none of this would have been possible.

There is one thing I’ve learned in the 25 years of being part of this organized community- is that we can’t take our eye off the ball. We have to keep our citizens engaged and working together. I’ve seen blocks rise and fall and rise back up again- all based on the people who are living there. I’ve seen houses rehabbed- sell high- and then fall into disrepair only to be picked back up. There is no finish line in this competition for a quality neighborhood- only a journey that can be progressively more enjoyable if the community chooses to work together.

If there has been one factor that has slowed us down more than anything- it has been the loss of so many young families over the years who leave as their kids hit school age. If we don’t have confidence in our community schools, it severely hurts our community. I’ve been trying to work with Dayton School Superintendent Lori Ward to find ways to reconnect neighborhood kids who could be attending as many as 30 different schools- hopefully, soon, we’ll have an initiative in place to solve this major problem and start keeping our best social capital in our community- in our community.

Dayton still makes business difficult

With massive vacancies in commercial space in Dayton (a banker from out of town told me that his people thought downtown was a ghost town when looking at site selection)- the city of Dayton still does its best to make business all but impossible.

Today’s Dayton Daily had an article about businesses moving to Springboro- and yet, no one working for “Inspector Gotcha” in City Hall will acknowledge that the culture of City Hall is to say no first and often. Here is a plea to open a small neighborhood coffee shop in my neighborhood, by a neighborhood resident from his Facebook page:

…the American way…

Ghostlight Coffee needs You!

Luckily we live in America & we have opportunities to come together, to show support for one another, and make our voice heard!

It’s been in the works for a very, VERY long time. In reality, we hoped that we would be open by now, and that all of you would be stopping in, shopping for some terrific coffees and teas to share this Christmas, but alas, no….thanks to an abundance of RED TAPE.

The owners of the building which will (hopefully) be the home of Ghostlight Coffee must receive a variance from the City of Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals, in order to switch the zoning from “retail” to “restaurant.” The good news is that we have been approved for the next BZA hearing on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28th. The bad news is, that if the building is not approved for this zoning change, the future of Ghostlight Coffee is uncertain. Therefore…Ghostlight Coffee needs YOU!

Ghostlight Coffee needs to show that our community is in support of our efforts to open a great, community-based coffeehouse on Wayne Avenue. There are two ways that we could use your help in this matter:

1. E-Mail a letter of support for the zoning change.

2. Attend the zoning appeal hearing on December 28th (if you can) and ask to speak on behalf of the efforts of the owners of the building &/or the folks at Ghostlight Coffee.

The primary issue holding this zoning change up is the fact that our on-site parking lot is just a few spaces shy of the required amount for a “restaurant” (no we will not be a full-blown restaurant, this will be a COFFEEhouse….and other incredible beverages). This is a minor technicality, due to the fact that Theobold Court (street that runs parallel with Wayne, directly behind Ghostlight’s location) has plenty of on-street parking that is rarely utilized.

If you are willing to send off an email about this issue, here are the details:

a) letters/emails should be sent to three individuals:

Larry.Ison@daytonohio.gov

Connie.Nisonger@daytonohio.gov

GhostlightCOFFEE@gmail.com

(this way we can take a hard copy to the hearings, in case the email doesn’t make it into the board packets)

If you prefer to send letters, the mailing address for both individuals is:

Department of Planning and Community Development
City of Dayton
101 W. Third Street
Dayton, OH 45402

b) The letters don’t have to be too long, but please make sure that you:

Ask that the Board of Zoning Appeals grant the requested variance for parking at 1201 Wayne Avenue, Dayton, OH 45410.

Choose a couple relevant points that you could address (choose the ones most pertinent to your position in the community or how you would anticipate in your patronage to Ghostlight Coffee or similar businesses which open on Wayne Ave.)…some suggestions:

  • the building has been vacant and blighted for years and its return to use would benefit the Historic South Park neighborhood (& surrounding neighborhoods);
  • the location is within walking/biking distance from your house/work/school, therefore you anticipate walking/biking to the business frequently (versus driving & parking);
  • this area of the city is in need of more third places, such as coffeehouses, where members of the community can meet, socialize and help to build the community;
  • the owners of the building and the operator of the proposed coffee shop are residents of Historic South Park and community leaders who are sensitive to neighborhood concerns and will be good commercial neighbors.
  • the historic district regulations prevent demolition of properties to increase parking for businesses in South Park;
  • most buildings on Wayne were built before cars existed and do not have adequate parking;
  • the area will continue to be depressed with increasing commercial vacancies if the board does not relax the parking requirements for businesses;
  • there are many unused street parking spaces on Theobald Court (and no homes on Theobald) where overflow parking can be easily accommodated;
  • returning this building to use will likely encourage other commercial development on Wayne Avenue (domino effect);
  • the success of other business leaders along Wayne Ave. (Pizza Factory, South Park Tavern, Remember When Antiques, etc.) prove that neighborhoods along the Wayne Avenue corridor desire a healthy business district;

Thanks for your support and for your anticipated letters.

Our hearing is Dec. 28th, but there may be an earlier SE Priority Board Hearing, therefore the earlier these letters of support are sent, the better for our efforts to make Ghostlight Coffee a reality!

(PLEASE TRY TO HAVE THESE EMAILS/LETTERS OF SUPPORT SENT BY DECEMBER 15th, due to the holidays)

Thank you very much!

Shane Anderson

via …the American way…Ghostlight Needs YOUR Support!.

Over 20 years ago- I faced the same hassles in opening up The Next Wave in South Park- despite the building being a former corner grocery store- and having been boarded up for 15 years. The list of grievances that Inspector Gotcha came up with were long and expensive- including the insane requirement of a sprinkler system in the basement and asking for a backflow preventer (because as a graphic design firm/ad agency- we’d be “pouring paints and inks down the drains”- apparently they’d never seen a Macintosh before).

Our permanent occupancy permit was delayed 9 months- and a city inspector once tried to tell us he’d “shut us down” if our employees parked in front of a neighbor’s house on a public street (apparently they had a private parking spot privilege according to the martinet).

Having worked with many small businesses start up over the last 20 years- I can tell you nothing has changed. Just recently Gary Staiger was telling me how it was a hassle and a half moving Omega Music into the former Gem City Records vacant location- an identical use).

Please help Shane do what’s good for Dayton- write a letter of support. It’s time to send a message to Inspector Gotcha that it’s time to start saying yes first- or at least, here’s how we can help you.

Thank you

Free Shakespeare tonight thru Sunday in South Park

South Park is my neighborhood- and for the last three years this neighborhood has shown its community spirit and hipness by presenting the Bard, for free- in the ‘hood. A good number of the actors and support people live in the neighborhood.

Consider yourself invited to this year’s production of Romeo and Juliet- updated to take place in America around the time of Dayton’s birth:

FAST FACTS ON SHAKESPEARE IN SOUTH PARK ROMEO AND JULIET

Dates: Fri-Sun, Sept 17-19, 2010

Time: 8 PM-11PM

Place: South Park Green, Hickory & James

Bring: A lawn chair or blanket

Admission: Free, donations accepted

or call (937) 603-4893 for information.

Parking: Hope Lutheran or Emerson Academy

Rain Location: Hope Lutheran Church

via Romance & Tragedy take over South Park Green.

And, as a note- while the performance is free to attend, it isn’t free to produce. I’ll be there hawking for donations at the end of each show (it’s a talent I seem to have down well). Don’t feel obliged, but- if you enjoy Shakespeare under the stars- done by locals, and want it to continue, your support will be appreciated.

Chief Biehl in the ‘hood

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a bit: The Chief of Police seems to understand what is happening better than the people in planning or in “economic development”- he’s redistricted South Park, the Oregon District and the Fairgrounds neighborhood into the Central Business District.

‘Bout time. Downtown just started being bigger than a thimble.

He’s coming to the Historic South Park, Inc meeting tomorrow night to fill us in.

The HSPI General Meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, April 27th at 7:00 pm at Hope Lutheran Church (500 Hickory Street). This month’s guest speaker will be Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who will speak about the redistricting of the Dayton Police Department and its impact on South Park.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl today outlined plans to expand the boundaries of the Central Business District (CBD) to better align downtown policing services with the broader community and economic development strategies occurring in the area.
Currently the CBD is generally bounded by Washington Street to the south, Wayne Avenue and U.S. 35 to the east, and the Great Miami River to the north and west. The expanded CBD boundaries will extend eastward to include Wayne Avenue to Wilmington Avenue and further southward to encompass Irving Avenue and Stewart Street to the river, areas formerly included in the Second Police District. The change is expected to take effect mid-May.
“It makes more sense to broaden the CBD boundaries slightly to better connect police services with the various economic and community development projects occurring in the area,” Chief Biehl said. “As the greater downtown area grows and changes, we want our police services to grow and change with it.”
Now if we could only get planning on board.