Ballpark village- an episode of “Desperate Cities”

I believe that the fastest way to success is to build on strengths. Find the stuff that’s good, easy, strong- and build on it. So, when I say the proposed “Ballpark Village” is a mistake- some of you are going to scratch your heads and quickly say “Esrati is an idiot.”

So- let me explain: Regionally, our population isn’t growing. We’re overbuilt in retail. Dayton, the city proper, has many vacant homes and lots available. Dayton proper, and the region to a lesser degree, has a sever inferiority complex and poor self-esteem. So when the owners of the Dayton Dragons, one of our few “success stories” comes in and says we want to build a $230 million dollar project- to surround and enhance our existing successful development (also paid for by taxpayers) with a lot of public money, somehow we forget all the other issues and jump on the bandwagon without considering any of the other factors. We’re “building on success.”

This is the same strategy the driving forces of the Schuster Center used- Mrs. Kettering, Mr. Danis and Mead wanted something nice on the corner across from their real estate, and convinced the people that the old Lazurus, Shillito Rikes, etc building must be torn down and the gleaming Schuster Center was built- to their benefit- not to ours. Note: had the Schuster Center been built in close proximity to the Convention Center and the Oregon District- we wouldn’t be losing restaurants for lack of business downtown, and we would have had an additional venue for Conventions- with a large hall for speakers. Had we also built 5/3rd Field at Fifth and Wayne- we would have had even more customers to support our only true “entertainment district” in the city.

So- why should Ballpark Village not get your support? Because we don’t need townhouses on Deed’s point or a Walmart on Parkside homes location. Nor do we need to tear down 3 functioning buildings to replace them with something else. Requarth lumber and Woolpert’s building are both fine buildings- as are Mendelsons old Delco factories- which could all be used and adapted to do the same thing: housing upstairs, retail downstairs, office space in-between on the 2nd and 3rd floors. We could add a “New Urbanist” parking garage with retail and entertainment on the first floor- and Rooftop “sky bars” etc. The Dayton Public Schools could keep their plan of building a new Central Montessori School by the river for the downtown residents who currently fight to get into E. J. Brown- and last but not least, we could add things downtown that don’t exist- anywhere else in the area that make sense and bring people into the core city- not just locally- but nationally.

This comes back to my Sportsplex proposal for the Parkside location, building on the “strength” of Kettering Fields as a destination for national and international softball tournaments, building on the strengths of our bike paths- with a Velodrome- and tying in with the new Kroc/Salvation Army basketball center.

We could also build a ice arena near the Ballpark- to give businesses that depend on ballpark traffic a balancing venue for the Winter months. Bring the Bombers downtown, as well as provide a Class A venue for the Silversticks tournament and the Lefty McFadden tourney. Instead of building a lame covered outdoor rink on Riverscape- we could have a real facility- that provides a facility that can be used by the community- 24/7 unlike the ballpark.

Yes, I’m biased because I play hockey, and occasionally work for the Bombers- full disclosure, but it’s always been my position that tax dollars should be used to build things that benefit the taxpayer- giving them amenities that the private sector can’t do on their own- or at least as well. We don’t need more retail, or townhouses that benefit a group of carpet baggers from California (Mandalay Entertainment/Development) as much as we need resources for our community to feel good about and utilize year round, which a Sportsplex would do.

I do believe that Mandalay has been a strong addition to our community, and believe they should be given some support- but, I believe the way to do that is to provide for heavy incentives to redevelop what we have- instead of replace. If we could work together to examine other options – instead of blindly running after the dangling carrot of “development” we may be able to create something bigger and better than Mandalay’s plan- so we don’t have the debacle of Schuster’s and the ballparks misplacement happening again.

What do you think?

(and I’m sure that saying “Esrati is still an idiot” is going to come up)

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6 Comments on "Ballpark village- an episode of “Desperate Cities”"

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I think you make some excellent points David, of which I agree. I also wonder if there is any consideration or comprehensive studies of the changing demographics of Dayton and the surrounding suburbs prior to announcing these new developments, or any type of “intention” to “revitalize” or build new. The “build it and they will come” approach is geared toward short-term profit without regard to a long-term growth strategy for the entire community.


Right now this is all in the exploratory stage, dependent on market studies. I would be suprised if Ballpark Village gets built, as I doubt the local market can support a “second Greene” in the area.

The redevelopment of that housing project for a new big-box retail/strip center is intriguing, though. This is akin to what Chicago has been doing with derelict industrial sites (Chicago also uses the TIFF mechanism). The ironic thing is that that McCook center next to the projects was probably Dayton’s first “shopping center”, partially built during WWII for the project residents.

Phillip Ranly
Phillip Ranly

Wow, I can’t say I agree. There’s so much that could potentially happen in that area of town. It could really become another unavoidable reason to be downtown and not in some fake sterile McDowntown in the suburbs. The Merc, Cannery (how fabulous is the new Wine Gallery & Cafe!), ballpark, markets, Tech Town and BP Village would make quite a compact walkable area. I’m in favor. Think what it would do purely for the cities low self-esteem. That’s a factor that shouldn’t be underestimated. I agree with some of your issues but think this is more beneficial than not. The Wal-Mart idea needs to die though. Could it at least be a Target?

Ben Anderson

I happen to live across the highway from McCook Field and also across I4 where the proposed townhouses will be built. I welcome the wrecking ball taking away Parkside and the building of new housing at Deed’s Point as both of those will raise property values somewhat in this area. But none of this should be done without raising the quality of life across the board.

Building more housing that inevitably will cost more than the housing in the vicinity and creating places to spend money is doing nothing for the existing residences income level.

Dayton’s many lofty goals really need a good influx of jobs that pay well that are geared towards people who are semi-skilled to skilled IMO.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this post and invite the author to join my new forum for Dayton issues here:

I am sure it will add to the overall quality of the site, and look forward future reading.

Ralph Stamm
Ralph Stamm

Nuke the whole place.

Nickolas Post
Nickolas Post

You’re right and your wrong. Dayton was a boom town. And for what reason? Manufacturing. Manufacuting was the main economy in the U.S. at the time. Now it’s not. How do you fix this situation? Trigger growth in a new direction. What direction? What’s our big economy right now that we’re seeing growth in? Technology.
Sorry about the demanding tone in the explanation above. But what I am trying to say is that if you want the city to truly grow, you have to take advantage of what is popular. You have to make it attractive. It is not attractive right now. Fortunately, Tech Town is pointing us in the right direction. But I think the Tech Town idea is way too limited right now. It doesn’t have to be like the Greene where they have a set plan to a certain amount of buildings. Dayton needs to look at in this way: stay confident by pushing the idea that we’re a growing city. Tech Town can become even bigger than what is planned. That is why I agree that the area should be developed, just not for Ballpark Village. Leave the land for even more expansion for Tech Town. Leave the room to be filled in naturally by a new demand for office. If there is enough jobs downtown, the growth will come naturally. This not only is the right way to do this but it simplifies things. We don’t have to worry about zone this or zone that. The residential and commercial development will come when more technology jobs in Dayton! It’s not that complex! All we need right now is the spark to push Dayton forward- and I think that that push could be education. So this is it- public dollars should go to schools more. Private dollars should hopefully go towards other development. That is how cities do well. That is how Dayton WILL do well!