MidPark? Part of someone’s plan.

by David Esrati on June 10, 2013

in Economic Development in Dayton OH, Historic South Park

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?

 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

truddick June 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

Um, David?  I hate to break the news to you about your neighborhood, but your grocery hopes are unrealistic based on average incomes.  DLM, Fresh Fare and Whole Foods are high-price and would not generate happy customers from the lower-rent populations of the Ghetto, Walnut Hills, Twin Towers, and the like–and not everyone in South Park, even, is a prosperous burger like you.  Trader Joe’s might meet the price point better, but they’re already happily esconced in Kettering.  Maybe you could hope for an Aldi’s–or get your food at Dollar Tree…

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David Esrati June 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

@truddick- you must not have caught the stir Whole Foods is making in the Detroit Getto: https://www.google.com/search?q=whole+foods+going+into+detroit&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

So- someone thinks it’s a good idea.

And- btw the meeting last night- was mostly about MVH driving a reorientation of the streets around Apple, Adams, Oak st.

I’ll post maps and a discussion soon.

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Boro Bob June 13, 2013 at 7:01 am

Accusing the owners of DLM of racism is a baseless charge for which you should apologize.   The vast majority of business people make decision on demographics and not race.   If Whole Foods wants to take a risk and go into a low income area, then more power to them.  That does not mean that other business people are racist because the don’t want to follow suit.
Comments like that are one of the reasons you could not be elected dog catcher let alone to city council.
 

Well-loved. Brilliant: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

David Esrati June 13, 2013 at 9:14 am

@Boro Bob- or should I say “Creationist-ville Bob” – about a year ago, a movement was starting on Facebook, calling DLM racist, they were oblivious to it until I alerted them. The claim, substantiated by people I know and trust, that samples weren’t being offered to Hispanics the same way they were to Caucasians.

Other sources (I didn’t pop into Dayton yesterday) have told me, that DLM was terrified of going somewhere where they wouldn’t be hiring Oakwood students as baggers and cashiers. DLM has been approached, and they also have data of where their customers come from- they know they have customers from this area, but choose to not move in this direction. Actions speak louder than words. They’ve been offered incentives, they’ve been invited to the table.

Does asking the question have to be offensive? I think not asking it is more offensive.

Poorly-rated. Bozo: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 17

Dave C. June 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

I shop at DLM on an almost daily basis. They have 3 locations that, as best I can tell, make money hand-over-fist. Why take a risk on a location in Dayton? 
————
They are in business to make money. They charge rather high prices, and provide a high level of quality and service. Consequently, they locate their stores in places where lots of people can afford their prices.
————
Is there racism involved? Probably. Is racism promoted (or ignored) by the management of DLM? I doubt it. It’s not because DLM is managed by beautiful people that have seen the light. It’s simply because overt institutional racism usually interferes with the bottom line, which is to make money. Especially with businesses that serve the public.
————
The income levels in City of Dayton are, one the whole, lower than Centerville, Oakwood, or Springboro. If locating a DLM in Dayton were as profitable a proposition as the other 3 locations, they’d probably do it.
——————
City of Dayton is simply a case of high risk/hassle for low/no reward. Pass.
 

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joe_momma June 13, 2013 at 11:06 am

DLM is really just a niche specialty food market.  The Springboro location has three Krogers with a 2-3 mile radius.  Most folks shop for specific items at DLM and do their general grocery shopping elsewhere. 
 
@Boro Bob- or should I say “Creationist-ville Bob” –DE
 
Laugh riot!!!!  Maybe you should say “Excellent with Distinctionville Bob”? 

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Dave C. June 14, 2013 at 5:20 pm

It would be nice to see a few decent grocery stores in Dayton, especially for the lower income neighborhoods. For many Dayton residents, convenience stores are the only real option. Not very many good nutritional choices at UDF.

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Robert August 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

What was the meeting in Coco’s about ????

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David Esrati August 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm

@Robert- new traffic patterns for Brown/Warren street- including closing off of Oak st at Brown/Warren.

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Robert August 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm

In one of the proposed plans they showed last year there was one proposed scenario where they would extend the now cul-de-sac on Hickory to warren/Brown St. 
But as you say nobody really knows what is in the planning, but four story buildings would look so out of place and in my opinion this should be objected too, but the man will throw a sop to Cerberus and have his way eventually. 

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David Esrati August 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm

One of the plans had Adams extending to Warren/Brown. Nothing with the Hickory cul-de-sac changing

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