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.

 

 

Fairgrounds to Premier and UD- or how stupid is the public?

There are the Illuminati, the Tri-Lateral Commission and the Montgomery County Fair Board as three of the most misunderstood secret societies on the planet. And, then, there is the government intervention by the Monarchy of Montgomery County and their benefactors in the transfer of the Fairgrounds to the patron saints of politics in the county.

If the two developers who invested considerable time and money in the rigged competition to buy the Fairgrounds for their private developments don’t sue- you know there were payoffs made.

There is no logic to this deal, there is no math that backs it up, there is no rationale that would pass muster- even on the TV show “Are you smarter than a fifth grader.” In this case, you could probably make the threshold third grade and still be ok.

The Country Fairgrounds didn’t deliver any property tax, or real economic impact in the county. It is prime, unpolluted real estate in the heart of what’s now being referred to as “Mid-Town” (which is laughable- since “Downtown” has become mostly a joke since Austin Landing, The Greene, and Pentagon Parkway have stolen so much from the city core).

The conditions of the sale, or rules of the game, to acquire this gem in the Gem City were to pay for the fairs relocation and to show a plan for a royal flush- jobs, housing, retail, i.e. create a success story that could compete with development at…. Austin Landing, The Greene, and Pentagon Parkway.

And while none of those generate income taxes (the exception of course is Austin Landing with its reverse Robin Hood TIF/JEDD tax on only the little people who work in retail and fast food in one-story buildings) ostensibly, the Fairgrounds would bring in plenty of income tax to Mayor Nan Whaley’s new 2.5% income taxed Dayton, tied for the highest with Oakwood.

There will be no property taxes on this prime real estate to pay the Dayton Public Schools- who are funded, unconstitutionally, solely on property taxes (and state and federal handouts).

Premier Health and UD will now own the property, be able to do as they please with it, and not pay taxes- as they don’t pay on their deals now- including UD’s sweet deals for Emerson, GE, Midmark etc.

Listen to the “unlogic” in the mouthpiece story by the Dayton Daily, if it’s news, it’s news to us, News:

The university and health care system on Monday announced they have reached a $15 million agreement to purchase the 37-acre South Main Street site, which comes less than two weeks after a pair of proposals to remake the property were rejected for not meeting certain criteria and asking for too many public dollars.

UD and Miami Valley Hospital officials said the purchase is an investment in the future that ensures that new development on the land is compatible and complementary with investments they have and will continue to make in that area.

The University of Dayton and Premier Health will redevelop the fairgrounds by starting with “a blank piece of paper,” said UD President Eric Spina.

“Hopefully, we’ll leverage the assets and create opportunities for our faculty and for our students,” Spina said. “I mean, that’s really the key. This is a long play.”

Dayton and Montgomery County leaders emphasized the historic relevance of the announcement and how much work it to took to reach this point. They said they are confident the property will become a high quality mixed-use development.

“(This) opportunity now gives us the time to do the really good work to make sure this is a development that lasts the ages,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.“Congratulations to everyone who has been working on this the past 100 years.”

On Nov. 30, the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and fair board officials announced they rejected two proposals to redevelop the fairgrounds from Dayton-based Miller-Valentine Group and Indiana firm Thompson Thrift.

The proposals failed to meet certain criteria and originally sought more than $20 million in public infrastructure assistance, officials said. The minimum bid price for the fairgrounds was $15 million to help move the annual fair.

Within 48 hours of the announcement, city and county leaders met with representatives of Premier Health and UD to discuss the future of the property. On Monday, the groups held a joint press conference to announce the purchase plans, which are expected to be finalized in coming weeks, with financing coming from multiple sources, officials said.

The county fair and a horse show will take place as scheduled next year. The property is expected to fully change hands in the fall. The purchase agreement is expected to be completed in about a month.

Both Spina and Miami Valley Hospital president Mark Shaker said they have not decided what they will use the space for as the deal came together quickly.

“When the thing fell apart, well we had to step in,” Shaker said. “It was the right thing to do.”

With UD and student residences being just a few blocks away, Spina said it would make sense to extend some of campus to the fairgrounds location.

Shaker said Miami Valley Hospital, which is part of Premier Health, is landlocked and would benefit from having some room to grow.

On Monday, Spina emailed staff and students to tell them the fairgrounds purchase is a “strategic decision consistent with our history and character, and supports the future of the university.”

Spina noted the fairgrounds’ proximity “to GE, Emerson, the Marriott and other university holdings” at Patterson and Stewart, two blocks from UD’s student-centered investments on Brown Street.

Spina admitted the land will likely see some expansion of UD’s campus or Premier Health’s Miami Valley Hospital.

“Ultimately, I think this area will have some university opportunities and it will have some hospital opportunities,” Spina said. “Probably the vast majority of it will go to development of one kind or another.”

UD said its involvement began in October when Miller-Valentine asked for support of its redevelopment proposal. When the city, county and fair board rejected that plan, UD and Premier took an active role in acquisition talks.

“It was highly likely that if action was not taken quickly, this opportunity would have been lost and the fairgrounds would have continued to deteriorate, or it could be developed to the detriment of the university and the investments in that area,” Spina said in the email.

Premier Health President Mary Boosalis sent a letter in support of Miller-Valentine’s overall site design and planned uses for redeveloping the fairgrounds.

But UD and Premier said they will take their time to figure out the best uses for the property and will create a plan from scratch.

The development will have to go through the city’s planning and zoning process, and it should achieve the community’s desired vision for the property as a high quality, mixed-use urban environment, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

UD and Premier will be committed partners whose role in redeveloping the fairgrounds will be much deeper and more significant than if an outside developer was brought in to transform the site, said Whaley, who noted that the property is an important piece of real estate.

“It would not be fine with the city of Dayton if the people waited for 100 years for a strip mall to go on this property — that’s not OK with us,” she said.

Whaley said she and county leaders have discussed relocating the fair and selling the fairgrounds for at least three years, but interest in that happening dates back at least to John Patterson, who publicly declared his support of the move around the turn of the previous century.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley said the announcement was the result of behind-the-scenes work, and there were times that the obstacles in the way of moving the fairgrounds seemed insurmountable.

“I thought maybe it was an idea whose time was not ready — but I am glad it is,” he said.

Miller-Valentine and Thompson Thrift declined to comment for this article.

Source: Deal struck to sell county fairgrounds

The only true statement that’s highlighted belongs to Foley- that behind the scenes skullduggery and large donations to political campaigns (like the recent Issue 9 tax increase- that got huge donations in the first reporting period from Premier– masked through their partners in the crime we call racketeering- but they call duopoly health care).

Why did the real estate have to be turned over at all without a plan? Or why didn’t the city and the county just hand $15 M over to the fair board, since the fair board isn’t allowed to just do what any other property owner would do and sell it to the highest bidder?

If the deals from Miller-Valentine and from Thompson Thrift weren’t acceptable- how is no plan from UD or MVH? How many times can the people we elect lie to us?

Is there any doubt as to why there were only two companies stupid enough to bid on a proposed project in this den of inequity we call Montgomery County- where it all depends on who you know? Crawford Hoying, the new darlings of Nan Whaley, were probably warned off not to bid, knowing this was a sham competition to begin with. Steiner Properties– who developed The Greene had no interest after their last attempt ran into Whaley blocking – to do The Greene on the old Parkside homes property- which is still prime real estate sitting fallow.

The cost to development in Dayton is relatively low compared to other places in the country- and there are developers like Simon who have no limits on their ability to pay their own way to develop large projects- but, kingmakers like that, prefer to work in fiefdoms where the local lords don’t overestimate the size of their britches, or have bottomless back pockets.

And that’s why we just sold the primest piece of real estate in the county for a vague I. Maybe. Owe. You.

Issue 9 already working to fill Nan’s hole

Yesterday, Dayton voters gave the city commission an extra .25% of their income- for the kids, for public services, for paving streets and of course, to fill Nan’s hole:

The Dayton City Commission this morning approved spending $294,500 to finish demolishing and cleaning up the majority of the former downtown Dayton Daily News property in the hopes of setting the stage for its redevelopment.

The city has approved hiring Bladecutters Inc. to work on the nearly 2-acre site, which has been stuck in limbo for several years after a student housing project failed to move forward. The city recently declared the property a nuisance, which will allow demolition crews to remove the problem conditions.

Earlier this year, Dayton commissioners authorized the city to spend about $450,000 to purchase the property from Steve R. Rauch Inc.

Rauch, a demolition firm, was expected to be granted the deed to the land from its owners as part of a settlement over unpaid demolition costs. But that transfer has not yet happened.

Source: Dayton to spend $294K clean up stalled downtown project site

Note, the city contributed a million to the “developer” who was going to build “student housing” on the site. That money went bye-bye.

As to Rauch owning the Historic old Cox building on the corner, one wonders if the building inspectors will go after him for the unsightly exterior violations the way they go after people in my neighborhood for peeling paint (but neglect the dope houses).

And in other news, Dr. Tom Lasley and Learn to Earn staff all left on their all expense paid 8 year joyride at taxpayer expense, while the Dayton School Board is in the process of firing at least 32 para-professionals who are hands-on, in the classroom folks.

I can tell, Dayton is well on the way to being great again already!

 

Hara should be the new fairgrounds, run by MetroParks and the Convention and Visitors bureau

Hara ArenaIt’s time to stop playing around with the fairgrounds relocation. The first clue should have been when Hamvention moved to Greene County.

The second should have been when a local pro-sports franchise decided to sit out a season. Dayton built a really nice stadium for the Dragons and gave it away for 20 years. The Nutter Center stole hockey from Hara- very expensively, and then killed it because the building is a disaster to begin with.

Face it. Private enterprise can’t compete with public dollars- and we’ve done everything we can to put the Wamplers out of business, starting with the ridiculous tax burden which takes no heed of the economic development bonus they provided.

Yes, it’s now a shithole. But, dump $20 million into it, make it public, and voila- back comes Hamvention, back comes hockey, and who knows what else. Put the fairgrounds there too. Why not? It’s closer to agricultural parts of the county than downtown is.

And, Jackie Powell has it right:

Hara is a unique venue because it has an arena component as well as a number of different buildings,” (Jacquie) Powell  (president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau) said. “When you look at the Convention Center, it’s a different setup. The arenas are different too. For the summer months it makes it difficult for us to position groups there.”Furthermore, Hara’s 7,000-seat capacity was the fifth largest in the area — only 13,400-seat UD Arena, 11,000-seat Welcome Stadium, 10,000-seat Nutter Center and 9,000-seat Fifth Third Field are larger.

Source: Hara Arena’s closure highlights needs for updates at other Dayton-area venues – Dayton Business Journal

Turn it into a public venue, invest a little, and give it better management, and we’re all better off. Build a nice soccer/football stadium up there too- and hold regional games. Might be a great place for a regional olympic swimming pool too.

Book sales, Hamvention, and a hockey team are ready to come back, if the County and the fairgrounds board would just stop futzing around.

Make it a joint project between Metroparks and the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau for funding and ownership.

Problem solved.

 

Save

The Dayton music pavilion that we overlook

Everyone knows that the solution to Dayton’s problems is a single silver bullet project- one that will change the future of Dayton forever- catapulting us back into the heyday when all was grand (somewhere between November 1955 and May of 1956).

We’ve done Courthouse Square, the Convention Center, Sinclair Community College, The Arcade, Arcade Tower, 5/3rd Field, Riverscape, the Schuster Center and countless other “game changers,” all with the same effect- not much. The most media attention we’ve gotten has been- take your pick:

  • The Dayton Accords- which brought peace halfway around the world- but, were actually negotiated in Greene County.
  • John McCain announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate- also in Greene County.
  • A hoax concert by Limp Bizkit at the Sunoco station in South Park.

Of the three- the last was the most successful (no money spent, no politicians involved).

The new silver bullet is a concert pavilion on Dave Hall Plaza- where for years we’ve had a summer concert series on two portable stages that’s worked OK- the Women in Jazz show, Reggae Fest, Blues Fest, etc.

But, since Kettering has the Fraze (which lost money for at least the first 4 seasons before turning a profit) and Huber Heights just opened the Rose- which made a little in its first season- Dayton wants to bring a concert facility downtown- because, we don’t have one? Oh, we’ll get to that in a bit…

The nonprofit group Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton has a goal of raising $5 million by the end of this summer to pay to build a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza.

The group plans to intensify campaign efforts in coming weeks and months to raise the money needed to pay to construct the free outdoor music venue, which is slated to begin in 2017. The planned opening of the pavilion is late May 2018.

The state’s capital budget, unveiled this week, calls for allocating $550,000 for the pavilion.

The venue will be an anchor destination that offers world-class musical performances and acts at no cost to visitors that builds community and spurs on revitalization of the urban core, according to supporters and local officials…

Fundraising for the Levitt Pavilion Dayton is underway, and donations are being accepted at levittdayton.org and on Facebook. The pavilion has a page at twitter.com/LevittDayton.

The roughly $5 million capital project will create an amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza, on the north side of Crowne Plaza Dayton. The pavilion’s lawn will hold at least 2,000 people and will host 50 free music concerts each year.

The amphitheater will be a “community gathering place” that features a mix of national, international and local and emerging acts, supporters said.

The Dayton Levitt Pavilion will be part of a network of signature Levitt Pavilions across the nation, which are subsidized by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

The foundation provides signature pavilions about $1.5 million in assistance in the first five years. But local support and funds are a necessity.

The foundation then provides about $150,000 annually for operating costs in perpetuity. Pavilion operations typically cost about $500,000 annually.

Pavilions are located in Westport, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Bethlehem, Pa.; Arlington, Tex.; and Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. Pavilions are planned for Denver, Colo., and Houston, Tex.

Each Levitt Pavilion has an open lawn setting where everyone is welcome to enjoy the free concerts in an idyllic outdoor atmosphere, said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

“No two pavilions are designed the same, ” Yazowski said. “Through a community-driven design process, each Levitt Pavilion is designed to reflect the personality and character of the city where it is located, taking into account local aesthetics and traditions.

”Levitt pavilions are a proven model for reinvigorating neglected areas, and cities that have welcomed the amphitheaters have benefited from new retail, restaurants and other investments, supporters said.

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation’s objective is to reactivate underutilized public spaces and create family-friendly music venues that bring together people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status to interact and develop stronger bonds, said Mescher.

Free, quality live music promotes community-building and shared experiences at a time when U.S. concert tickets can be prohibitively expensive for many families, supporters said. On average, concert tickets cost almost $79 in 2015.

Levitt Pavilion shows attract top-notch acts and up-and-coming performers. About 20 of the artists who have performed on Levitt stages in recent years were nominated for Grammy awards in 2016, according to the foundation.

Black Violin played on the Levitt circuit. The band performed at sold-out shows at the Victoria Theatre in March….

All that foot traffic will lure light retail, restaurants, bars and other businesses, and the project optimizes a space that has been underused for a long time, said Ellen Ireland, who serves on the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton Board of Directors.

This project will build community through free music and will kick-start economic development and bolster reintegration in the urban core by bringing as many as 125,000 people downtown, she said.“For us to be the ninth (Levitt Pavilion) is huge,” Ireland said. “It’s key to get our fundraising well underway and finished so that we make sure it happens here and not somewhere else.”

The Levitt model demonstrably works, and Dayton’s project will draw from the experience of other cities with pavilions to succeed and have the biggest impact, Ireland said.

The proposed state capital budget includes $550,000 in funding for the pavilion project.Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said he pushed for the inclusion of the Levitt pavilion funding in the state capital bill because, “most vibrant cities have a happening music scene. I think Dayton has some components, but I think Levitt will really push that over the edge.”

Strahorn said the project will complement the growing number of people moving to downtown Dayton.

“I think things like the Levitt will engage more people to want to move into that space, and want to live in that walkable space,” he said.

Source: Backers seek $5M for Dayton music pavilion

Island Park Banshell, 2016 photographed by David EsratiBut, wait- we already have a concert pavilion/bandshell, with plenty of free seating. It’s in Island Park, but- oh, I must have forgotten, we only invest if it’s Downtown, or helps UD, Premier Health, or Kettering Health, or a major corporation that doesn’t want to pay taxes (GE, Emerson, Midmark, Standard Register, or any of the tenants in Tech Town). We’ve also seen summer concerts under the Riverscape ice rink/pavilion- as well as shows on the streets- ala Dayton Revival festival or Cityfolk festival.

Now run by Metroparks, what started out so aptly named “White City Amusement Park” the Island park band shell sits mostly unused- and forgotten. Erected in 1939, the “Leslie L. Diehl Band shell was sponsored by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the city and the Works Project Administration for their “enjoyment of music and other wholesome entertainment” according to the bronze plaque that is covered with the patina of age on the right front pedestal. It used to be the home of the “municipal band” – back in the day when high schools in the city still had marching bands and music programs, and the health and welfare of the citizens wasn’t ignored in the name of “economic development.” The band shell had fallen on hard times- just like the rest of the city- and in 1995, the countywide tax that funds Metroparks (an example of regionalization that we don’t fight) were used to restore the band shell- which will be ignored for the new bright shiny thing Mayor Nan can bring to Downtown.

Considering that both the Fraze and the Rose already host a number of free concerts – should we call the Levitt the “Bus Hub Concert Pavilion” or, the keep the Daytonians in Dayton concert pavilion- or what it really is- the anti- “White City Amusement Park Band shell?”

And, one last note- to Fred Strahorn- ““most vibrant cities have a happening music scene”- haven’t seen you at any Yellow Cab shows or at any of the many bars that are keeping our local music scene going. I must have missed you at the Limp Bizkit show.

 

Grandstanding in Dayton, and Travel Bans

There’s never a missed opportunity for our half-a-million dollar Mayor, Nan Whaley, to grandstand. Be it accepting refugees that aren’t coming, or banning travel to North Carolina and Mississippi over stupid legislation against the LGBT community. If there’s a front page story to be made out of making a proclamation or an informal resolution- she’s on top of it.

But, let’s talk about a local travel ban that the city created and now can’t find the “$35,000” it will cost to fix- and the costs the city’s lack of foresight cost a small local independent business.

For decades, 865 N. Main Street was the place to get fried chicken in Downtown Dayton. Chicken Louie’s was an institution. When Lou fell into poor health, the restaurant closed. Because the city of Dayton can’t keep a building safe from scrappers, the building quickly became a very expensive prospect to reopen. Plus, the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on I-75 through Downtown, were also taking their toll on businesses near the construction.

In November of 2014, a business that had begun on W. Third Street, rose to the challenge to bring fried chicken back to N. Main. Plans, permits, inspections, and almost 18 months later, they soft-opened this week. No big grants from the city, no tax abatements, no tax credits- a legitimate, small business opened back up in the old Chicken Louie’s- welcome back to Quincy’s. (Full disclosure- I do the advertising for them- and, they didn’t ask me to write this article).

Only one slight problem, when the city bulldozed a whole bunch of apartment buildings and built a brand new Great Miami Boulevard- they cut off the second entrance to the parking lot. Yep- made a little stub of a driveway- but, no access from the boulevard, only from N. Main, right at the light- making left turns into the lot a mess.

The city, which bought a building on Wayne Avenue for $450,000 and then sold it to a developer from out of town, and gifted them Garden Station as a bonus- can’t find $35,000 to replace the apron and access that they “improved” off the map. Here’s an aerial view courtesy of Google Maps- the yellow area is where a driveway should be- but now has curbs, grass and trees planted.

Aerial view of Quincy's Parking lot

Can Dayton put a driveway back in please?

This is similar to what they did to the old Wympee on E. Third street- when Olive Dive went to turn on their gas main- it turns out that the city had cut the gas line when replacing sidewalks- and was going to try to stick the tenant with the bill.

How 25 feet of concrete or asphalt becomes a $35,000 expense is beyond me. Why the curbs and access hadn’t been worked out and replaced well before the opening is also beyond me. But, I guess real “Economic Development” and a commitment to local small, independent business doesn’t make either the headlines- or, Miss Nan would have taken care of fixing this mistake already.

When people talk about being “business friendly” – it’s about a government that takes care of things like this and thanks the small business for bringing a building back to life. If I were mayor- this kind of bullshit would never fly, and I’d have rented a Bobcat and cleared the path myself, before they opened if I couldn’t get the city to act. A load or two of gravel over what I cleared would be a better start than leaving it as is.

Considering the only thing Nan has proven herself good at is making holes like the one on Ludlow where the perfectly usable Schwind and Dayton Daily News building were- she should be able to get a bulldozer over to Quincy’s on Monday and get this problem taken care of, $35,000 or not.

It’s a tiny investment compared to the value that having this building back in use pays back to the city.

In the meantime- go get yourself some chicken and fish, and be super careful entering and exiting the parking lot.

Woosh, we’re a test market

Last summer, it wasn’t safe to drink the water in Toledo, thanks to a giant algae bloom.

Now, it’s not safe for the people of Flint to drink the water because when the “Emergency Manager” for the bankrupt city decided to switch water supplies- the acidic river water flushed the calcification in the lead pipes away- and the water is now contaminated with lead.

Even the little town of Sebring, Ohio, is having issues with high lead content in the water, despite our governor’s blustering statement that if he was facing a water crisis like the one in Flint “every single engine of government has to move when you see a crisis like that.”

Well, Dayton, knock on wood, has excellent water. And while we still have plenty of lead pipes for distribution, our hard well water, still deposits plenty of calcification to line and protect us. Our water is even softened with a huge lime kiln and has our blue lagoon off Route 4 to store our lime for keeping our water from tasting like nasty well water.

Woosh water station photo

A Woosh Station outside- which isn’t possible, because current system isn’t suitable for winter.

So, you have to wonder what brings the Israeli tech start-up Woosh to Dayton to test their purified water stations to compete with bottled water. And, why do people in Dayton still buy so much bottled water- that often times isn’t as tasty as what comes out of our taps.

That was my first question when I met with Itay Zamir  and Dani  Oren from Woosh Water when I met with them at Sinclair on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Their first answer was “people get innovation here” followed by “people care about the environment”- at least that’s what they’d been told. Why these guys were talking to me is another odd question. It seems the PR person who is handling them for the powers that be thinks this blog is well read- and I was the party responsible for bringing bike share to Dayton-  and these guys love bike share.

This is one of the first potential wins for the “Dayton Regional Trade Alliance” (DRITA) which has been shuffling politicians back and forth between Israel and Dayton- and we’ve got a few lobbyists on the payroll to try to sell Dayton as a manufacturing mecca, just prime to produce Israeli tech products for a much larger market. County Commissioner Dan Foley was there in 2013, along with then Dayton Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein when they first met with Woosh.

To explain Woosh- is pretty easy- it’s a glorified water fountain, that washes and “purifies” the bottle before filling it- with a credit card reader built in to take your money. The water is purified with O3- or Ozone, that’s made with water and electricity- and is the secret to cleaning your bottle. Could you use your own bottle and fill it from any old water fountain- sure- but, this water fountain has a few differences- the ozone treatment is one, the measured use replaceable filter (just like your refrigerator might have) and the wash step- for a price about half of what bottled water costs.

The system has been tested in Tel Aviv- with some success. There was also some push back- when they first rolled it out with free water- there were complaints about the registration process requiring a credit card. The difference of course is here it freezes. They don’t have an outdoor machine ready yet.

The machines cost around $20K each right now- but when they ramp up to mass production the price should fall. What’s missing right now is the business model. When pressed for how these are managed, who gets the money, and why you want to Woosh it- was all pretty vague. Right now, the three test stations in Sinclair generate money for Woosh. There is no payback to Sinclair for water, electricity or even rent for the floor space. Both Montgomery County and Dayton City Hall are planning on adding Woosh stations too- and according to the Dayton Daily- each org is kicking $25K over to Woosh to be in the pilot program. If this sounds a bit like Tom Sawyer charging his friends to do his work painting his fence you and I are in agreement. Of course, the payoff is the promise to build the Woosh in Dayton- for sale all over the U.S.

This is what happens when politicians do business deals.

That all being said- the Woosh guys are on a mission- to do away with the buying of bottled water. Ever looked at the bottle of water you bought at Sam’s Club or Kroger? Mother Jones did a story that a lot of the “premium brands” come from areas hit by drought. Many are just filtered tap water. The costs of bottled water add up; branding, bottling, transport, advertising- all for something we should already have- just open a tap, put it in the fridge- and voila. The fact that not only has bottled water use been growing at astronomical rates- but, that it supposedly outsells all soda sold on the Sinclair campus (the school wouldn’t give actual numbers). And that’s at $1.50 or so a bottle. Nice margin there if you can get it.

There is also the issue of BPA in the plastic bottles that most bottled water comes in. All the “purity” of the water is put at risk by this chemical used in the bottle.

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a potentially toxic estrogen-mimicking compound used in plastic production that has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, and other maladies. It’s dangerous enough that it has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China—but not in the U.S. And it turns out that it’s almost entirely unavoidable. It’s in water bottles…

Source: 6 Steps to Avoiding BPA in Your Daily Life

The novelty of the Woosh system is the way you can buy it in bulk- and become a “member” – and use an RFID tag- or your Tartan card- to buy your water, instead of the single serve via cc option. The real killer cost here is the cc transaction processing cost- which is why giving a discount to larger purchases- or using the Tartan card is good for Woosh. They have also somewhat gamified their system- to track how much environmental benefit you are granting the world by Wooshing instead of hitting the bottle.

Really- as long as people are willing to pay stupid amounts of money for bottled water- Woosh makes sense. I’m not really sure why the genius innovators in Dayton haven’t started selling our tap water bottled instead of handing money over to Woosh- but we could still do both. It sure seems smarter to ship Dayton’s wonderful water to Flint than to allow Pepsi, Coke & Nestle to ship their hoity-toity water from drought zones.

Or better yet- start mass producing Woosh stations right now- and sell them to Flint, as a cheaper solution than having the National Guard handing out free bottled water daily. If someone from DRITA was smart enough to get it in writing that they’d be produced here- it shouldn’t be too hard to find demand for a whole bunch of these Woosh stations right now in Flint.

The guys from Woosh aren’t monogamous to Dayton, apparently they’ve been having a dalliance with the city of Miami Beach- to install a “Smart Water Stations Network” in Miami Beach- they signed an agreement back in March, 2015. Let’s hope that Shelley Dickstein remembered to get this manufacturing contract in writing this time- unlike her Wayne Avenue Kroger deal.

The Woosh system deploys with three stations at Sinclair on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. One will be outside the Tartan marketplace, another at the Main St. Cafe and the third at the Sinclair end of the parking garage walkway in Building 14.