What to do with the Fairgrounds?

Fairgrounds to Future meeting noticeThere will be the first of the community input meetings tomorrow night on what to do with the Fairgrounds. It’s nice that Premier (Miami Valley Hospital) and the University of Dayton have decided to involve the community. They’ve hired a planning firm out of Columbus to help with the process. Of course, the last time the County asked for plans for the Fairgrounds and two companies went all out with their ideas- they were tossed aside, and the Fairgrounds got handed to the Meds and Eds neighbors for a song.

I’ve been to many of these “community input” type events before. To me, they are kind of like asking a few hundred amateur house painters to get together to do the Mona Lisa.

That aside- suppose the Greene wasn’t already in existence, or the Fairfield Commons Mall, or the Dayton Mall area- or Austin Landing, and we were going to build another faux downtown, just South of the real Downtown, what would we have? Another bunch of buildings to compete with the buildings that are already under-utilized.

We know MVH needs parking. They’ve been building more and more lots, along S. Main, Warren, etc. They already have a few garages. What they really need is less people driving to work- and they’ve already tried to build housing for their employees- and it still didn’t help, much. The main reason people feel weird about having to live down here is, the only grocery store isn’t very nice. So, sure, you could put a grocery super store on 12 of the acres- but, you could also put a Trader Joe’s on Wyoming where Patterson Kennedy Elementary school sat- and people would be overjoyed.

We don’t really need a super-amazing suburban style grocery.

So, what do we need? Well, the city said no to a dog park, to a skate board park, and instead built Riverscape with a rink you can’t play hockey in. We’re building yet another concert venue- as if the Fraze and the Rose aren’t enough. We’ve got a mini-white water run, for all 1000 kayakers around.

And, UD still has huge parcels of unused land along Stewart street. Including a huge parking lot, a band practice green and some soccer fields and tennis courts. In the meantime, Brown Street has a gazillion chain food options- which get slammed at meal time- and sit idle the rest of the time- esp. in summer when the students are mostly gone.

What is needed is some synergy between Brown Street, and whatever we’re going to “plan to build” and yet- they are a big block away.

So unless you look at what’s going to happen with the Stewart street corridor- the Fairgrounds remain sort of an island.

Maybe, what needs to happen is that all of what sits off Stewart- needs to be tucked away on the Fairgrounds or by UD Arena and Welcome stadium- with a free street car to circle from the Arena to Campus and around the Hospital.

Instead of huge parking garages off smaller streets- we just should build a huge one by the highway and the stadiums- and let people take the street car to the developments? Or to work at MVH, or UD?

And, at the corner of Brown and Stewart- right next to campus- we build a 5000 seat hockey arena, with 2 sheets of ice, to accommodate all the East coast kids- and the loss of Hara. Along with a second garage there, you solve the problems of Brown Street, plus bring people in for either hockey, or smaller shows than the big arena or the Nutter Center can take.

Then at the Fairgrounds- put a dog park, a skate park, a velodrome to add on to our bike friendly city cred. Why can’t we have a big park for year round events? A huge pool, wait, didn’t we used to have one by NCR and Old River?  Maybe it’s time to bring one back?

Building more shopping, or housing, isn’t really going to add anything to our mix. Solving some of the circulation and entertainment misses in our community could make a huge impact.

I’m going to be there- only to ask that we don’t look at the Fairgrounds as an island- because, that’s what it’s been for the last 100 years. It’s time to look at the whole area and figure out what would make Dayton a better place to live.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Getting property taxation right

Why isn't the purchase price the permanent valuation for the length of time you own it?

Only in Dayton is the $10K house a reality

Are you your neighbors keeper?

Every week I look at the listings of homes sold in Montgomery County and marvel, because only in Dayton can you buy a home for less than the price of a nice used car.

This doesn’t happen in surrounding communities (other than the depressed ones- Jefferson, Trotwood) . Do you wonder why?

It’s all supply and demand would be the perfect capitalists answer. But, what drives demand?

In real estate 101 they say “location, location, location” – and people choose communities based on the schools. And to some extent this is also correct. Yet, my house, bought for $14,500 in 1986 is worth close to 10x that, and a slightly larger home 2 doors down, just went for the same amount 7 years ago. It shouldn’t have sold that low, but it was a foreclosure. And, my property value dropped- not just because the price was low, but because of the cancer that moved in.

Four doors down, a house sold for $95K 3 years ago. The new couple put at least $40K into it before splitting. It sold in a day- price unknown, but for well over $125K. And my property values are sure to go up.

Yet, I didn’t change locations, and my schools still suck. My investments in my house shouldn’t penalize me with higher taxes anymore than what my neighbors do. The value will come to me, and to the community, when I sell.

How and why do the actions of others affect my property values? If I own a share of stock in 3M, does my value go up just because Apple had a great year? No. Yes, if I go to sell my car, and someone else paid X for a similar car- that’s the price- but, I’m not selling my home, I just want to live here. Why should my value change until I do something?

Simple answer- it shouldn’t. And, this constant re-valuation of real estate based on the actions of others is causing gentrification, housing bubbles, foreclosures, and a mangled economy.

The purchase price of an owner occupied home shouldn’t change until the house is sold. The same should be said of rental property. When the government steps in and raises your property value for taxation purposes, they become an uncontrollable variable in a business equation. They distort markets. They screw existing businesses and property owners when they offer tax abatement to the new guy, while the long term investor gets shafted.

And, it’s almost counterproductive to do improvements to your property, if the tax man is just going to charge you more. But, what could be worse? Your neighbor doing improvements.

Case study: Dr. Michael Ervin, shadow mayor of Dayton before he left town for Scottsdale AZ, bought a dump of a bar in the Oregon District and poured $1.6M into it. This skewed the valuation tables for his neighbors, who were thankful the bar left, but were asked to pay more for Dr. Mike’s excess. Some, couldn’t pay the additional taxes and were forced to sell or move. Others might have spent more on a crappy house, because Dr. Mike did what he did. The market skewed. But, 10 years later, when it came time to sell, Dr. Mike got less than half his money back on his taj mahal. Yes, it’s still double the value of any of the other single family homes- and still skews things, but, the only person paying the tax on the new market rate evaluation- $725K , should be the new owner. Just as the neighbors who never left, shouldn’t have been forced to pay more when the $1.6 boondoggle went in.

The reason we pay property taxes is supposedly to support public infrastructure and government to keep our investments safe. Income taxes are supposedly a more progressive tax that are supposed to be based on ability to pay. When property taxes unfairly start to penalize people for making a long-term investment that they hoped to keep- it’s wildly unfair, un-American.

The fact that almost every office building downtown has been foreclosed on, while tenants have moved to fairer pastures funded in part by tax dollars- with more advantageous tax structures (both income and property tax) like Austin Landing is proof positive that our property taxation and income taxation hodge podge is causing more problems than it’s helping.

The value of the Kettering Tower, once the premier office space in Dayton, was decimated by Dayton’s high income tax (now 2.5%) and property taxes based on market forces beyond the owners control. Would Austin Landing have looked so good, without the huge investment in infrastructure by the county, or the income tax free zone for white collar workers (while the retail underclass pays 2%)? Probably not.

It’s time to realize that tax policy and abatement has serious consequences to the entire region, and we need to find a way to level the playing field and stop letting the choices others make, affect our tax rates.

Regional tax policy, from property to income tax, needs to be set and managed at the county level, and by fair market forces, for all of us to live within our means, and to stop changing the playing field in the middle of the game.

 

Why politicians make lousy real estate developers and vice versa

Other peoples money. That’s the key to real estate, and especially real estate deals managed by those we elect who are supposed to be working in our best interest.

We’ve see stupid deals in Dayton for a long time, and they seem to slide along into oblivion in the mind of the public. No one got hoisted by their petards on the Arcade deal, or the Arcade tower, or the Wayne Avenue Kroger, or…. the list gets really long.

Let’s just say this: politicians raise bad real estate deals to a new art form. And locally, there are plenty of failures. However, it would appear that the deals by the Dayton Public School Board of Education may take the cake. This is a long video. But, it should make it pretty clear that there are serious questions about the deals they’ve done, the ones they’ve refused to do- and who’s been driving the deals- and questions about his entanglements.

We look closely at the site downtown on E. First Street where Patterson Co-op once stood, a greenfield, ready for development, and the site on Wyoming at Alberta where Patterson Kennedy Elementary once stood- near Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.

We’ve spent the last two months pursuing this story- and trying to figure out why Dr. Adil Baguirov seems to be the only member of the Board of Ed- including the school superintendent, that knows what’s been going on when it comes to these deals- and we’re wondering if this is by design.

If the schools wanted to optimize the value of these vacant properties, the key factor would be what property taxes will the development generate to the district in addition to the sale price- nothing else.

Watch the video. We’ll post supporting documents later.

Here is “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap” featuring the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, the Dayton and Montgomery County Port Authority, the former DPS operations Chief John Carr, the DPS board attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw and CareSource.

It takes time and money to do videos and research like this. If you value exposing Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap, please consider making a donation: www.esrati.com/donate.

Involvement Advocacy, The Collaboratory, Peter Benkendorf, domain squatter/thief

I grew up in Cleveland Heights, a few blocks away from Peter Benkendorf. For two Heights High grads to end up living a few blocks away from each other in Dayton 45 years later, and both involved as community advocates, is kind of amazing.

What’s not amazing, is that Peter has hijacked a community event he helped found- and taken the facebook account, the domain name, and redirected them to his new competing venture.

From his own website- “Involvement Advocacy” he describes the event:

3RD ON THIRD – DAYTON’S ECLECTIC OUTDOOR MARKET

3RD ON THIRD is an Eclectic Outdoor Market that takes place on the 3rd Sunday of the month on East Third Street in Dayton – hence the name.

A joint effort of The Collaboratory, the East Third Street Business Association and the Huffman Historic District, 3RD ON THIRD Eclectic Outdoor Market features local artists and artisans, antiques, crafts, collectibles, fair trade, clothing, jewelry, handmade items, food trucks and more.

3RD ON THIRD represents a first step in a larger strategic push to spark retail and residential development along East Third from Keowee to the intersection at Linden/Springfield and on into the Huffman Historic District, creating a diverse, vibrant, walkable and sustainable community that attracts a mix of young professionals, families, artists, and immigrants.

Source: Involvement Advocacy

But, now, he’s walked away from the people on Third Street- and set up to have “Third Sundays in Dayton” at the Front Street building- a few blocks away.

Great and fine. You have your event, the people on Third Street have their event on the same day- and people stroll from one to another.

Except, Peter decided to keep the 3rdonThirdDayton.com domain, hijack the facebook page, and pretend the old event is moving and not still in business.

All I care about is the domain name, for which he has no right, or real use for. If he was truly the collaborator he claims to be:

In order to grow the Dayton region’s economic and social capital, the Collaboratory is providing the Collaborative Infrastructure—the physical space, portfolio of initiatives, engagement tools and support system for people from across the region to come together to imagine and act upon new possibilities for themselves, each other and the community, with a particular interest in downtown. These new possibilities will involve citizen, government, business, institutional, organizational and philanthropic participants and will impact how we live, work, play and learn.

Source: The Collaboratory | About

He’d hand over the domain name he’s squatting:

whois:3rdonthirddayton.com
Registrar: GODADDY.COM, LLC
Expiration Date 18 Jul 2017
Registrant Name Peter Benkendorf
Registrant Organization: Involvement Advocacy

The members of his board:

  • Monica Schultz, President & Secretary – Principal, Windblown Communications
  • Anthony Colussi, Treasurer – Partner, Goldshot, Lamb & Hobbs, Inc.
  • Paul Benson, PhD – Interim Provost, University of Dayton
  • Jacqueline Gamblin – CEO, JYG Innovations
  • Rodney Veal – Artist and Educator, Sinclair Community College

You can be the pied piper of collaboration if you are truly a collaborator. If you start a community event, using an empty field to bring people together, it belongs to the community, not to one person. Mr. Benkendorf, I urge you- give up your domain name squatting, it’s not something to be proud of.

Faulty Fairgrounds math

“Fairgrounds $15M purchase approved” is the headline on the front page of today’s Dayton Daily news. This is what we would now call “alternative facts,” or in the past- an “F” in math.

No worries, because no matter how much you sell the Fairgrounds for to “Meds, Eds and Feds” you keep the most valuable piece of undeveloped, virgin land in Downtown out of the category of contributing tax entity. No money generated to the schools, and- with this latest plan- which is really no plan, no idea of the number of jobs that will be created- the normal excuse for the public financing of private institutions (otherwise known as either corporate welfare or screwing the little guys).

UD and Premier will redevelop the property after market analysis and community input, according to a news release from the county…. The closing is supposed to take place no later than 15 days after the end of the due diligence period, which can be extended to the end of March if the buyers choose. UD and Premier will take possession of the property no later than Oct. 1, the letter states.

UD and Premier agreed to try to retain the historic roundhouse and incorporate it into their redevelopment plans.

In exchange, the county will provide them with a $2 million credit at the time of closing, which will be applied to the first and smaller of the two payments.

“We’re very pleased that as part of this deal the county is going to be able to contribute money to not only to keep that building where it is, but to improve it,” Commissioner Foley said.

Under the agreement, UD and Premier will not be required to renovate the building by any specific date.

The institutions also can decide that the roundhouse should be taken apart and reassembled at a suitable site somewhere else. But the building has a historic designation and, if moved, would have to be reconstructed to meet historic rehab standards, officials said.

Foley said he’s confident the development will create jobs, reshape the neighborhood and support two major anchor institutions.

“We’re excited that this next step has been accomplished. We look forward to working with our partners to develop plans for future,” said Premier Health in a statement.

The purchase agreement also says the city of Dayton will work to approve a memorandum of understanding outlining how it is prepared to participate in the construction of the infrastructure to benefit and support the redevelopment project.

The city also would be expected to take ownership of the title to the fairgrounds property to make the development eligible for tax increment financing incentives.

As for the financing, UD and Premier are expected to each pay $5.25 million of the sales price.

About $2.5 million is expected to come from a state grant that was previously awarded to the Dayton-MontgomeryCountyPort Authority. And the remaining $2 million is from the county.

Source: Fairgrounds’ $15M purchase approved

As far as this math challenged writer can figure, the Fairgrounds was sold for $10.5 million- making this the steal of the century.

And, the “historic roundhouse” isn’t worth much more than a pole barn, which is all it was then and now. If we are worried about preserving buildings in this town, let’s start with ones that have taxpaying people in them, that we’ve been tearing down faster than Trump tweets.

This after, two developers probably invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a real plan with measurable returns on investment to the community, that were tossed out, so we (the taxpayers) could basically donate this property to two institutions that already don’t pay a lick of property tax- and cried like babies when told they’d have to pay an assessment like the rest of us for new streetlights based on a democratic formula based on street frontage.

And remember, Premier/MVH had plenty of money to spare, as did their top, grossly overpaid executives to donate to Issue 9 to RAISE their income taxes .25% just a few months ago. How much they donated isn’t even fully known, because the mystery Political Action Committee that funded the campaign never filed their post election report. After it passed, one of the first things Premier did was to end support for the two Community Based Police officers they had funded for South Park and Rubicon Mill (the neighborhood FKA Fairgrounds).

Of course, Dan Foley seems to be the only one talking about this donation. Foley has been searching for a post commission job for years. First he’d hoped to be hired by the Dayton Development Coalition, and now, it looks like he’s looking for a job with UD or Premier – hopefully as sweet as what former County Administrator Deb Feldman landed over at Children’s Medical Center where she makes a cool half million a year plus (up from around $200K a year). Foley was also behind the latest failed regionalization push- which crashed and burned, where he made enemies with every black democrat thanks to Nan Whaley’s scare the west side meetings that were a total farce (the poison pill to block the plan was already well in place).

Foley likes to think of himself as some kind of visionary leader, but, he gets nothing done. Maybe this is because he’s never held a real job in his life outside of either patronage jobs through the party, or elected jobs because he’s was born into the party (his Daddy was a judge, and this is how we take care of the friends and family in the Monarchy of Montgomery County). He’s a very nice guy, but that’s really not why we should elect anyone. Voters are getting sick of the same folks getting elected over and over and doing nothing- he almost lost to Jan Kelly last time (she’s now the Republican in charge at the Board of Elections) despite outspending her and being the incumbent, and Debbie Lieberman came within a hair of losing to Gary Leitzell last time out, despite outspending him 100 to 1. If you need any proof that no elected position is safe from incompetence, just look to the White House.

This deal to give away the real estate should be stopped. Without a contract in place specifying the investment to be made and the return on investment, the property should just be kept in holding. Anything else is criminal.

As to the lie of $15 million, that’s what happens when the only reliable news source in a city has to be published by a political gadfly who the party and the paper tried to minimalize from the very first time he ran for office over 25 years ago. You’re welcome.