City spends $95K after not doing anything with $200k of advice

Architects are by definition, part of the “creative class” that Dayton seems so desperate to attract. We’ve gone overboard buying into the touchy-feely snake oil peddled by Richard Florida, that hasn’t turned any city around yet.

So as part of the dreaming of what could be, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects donated a ton of work re-imagining downtown- for FREE. The Downtown Dayton Partnership released this press release (in MS Word, with no ability to read directly online) singing their praises:

Downtown Dayton Partnership Unveils Strategic Building Reuse Project Designs

Ten Local Architectural Firms Donate Nearly $200,000 in Service

DAYTON, March 25, 2009 —Ten local architectural firms have created ten different reuse options for some of downtown’s most unique but underutilized spaces.

Last year the Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP) partnered with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, ten local architectural firms, and the City of Dayton to develop a strategic reuse plan that would transform underutilized properties into spaces that are better suited for the future needs of our community. Bob Shiffler, owner of the Kuhns, McCrory and Schwind Buildings, chaired this initiative for the DDP.

via Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Yet, yesterday, the Dayton City Commission voted to hand over $95k on an RFP to 4 firms: LWC Inc. (the former Lorenz & Williams Clinton), Woolpert Inc, Lawhon & Associates and Al Neyer Inc. A few architects whom I know said they didn’t even see this RFP- which makes it sound like a no-bid contract.

Why we are spending money to come up with plans for 4 more buildings downtown- when we haven’t acted on any of the plans that were already donated? Why are the taxpayers paying to devise plans for buildings that the taxpayers don’t own?

$95K would pay for 2 cops on the street for a year, or maybe even cutting the grass more than 3x a year in our parks so we can play in them, Instead, we’re paying money for things we don’t need, to people who didn’t bid competitively, and have no way of actually implementing the suggestions.

Does any of this make sense to you? Or does it sound like paying back political donors?  (LWC managing partner, Bear Monita gave $1k to Rhine.

While the city is claiming poverty- what is the return on investment on this plan? Can we have it in writing from the City Manager? It’s time for some accountability.

ADDITION: Beautiful video (thanks to the Dayton Informer) of the Mayor asking the questions of Shelly “I can’t give a simple answer” Dickstein:

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19 Responses

  1. Gary June 3, 2011 / 6:52 am
    @ David, It’s time for some accountability.  Also, it might be time for you to go to the next City Commission meeting and speak your peace on this issue … But doing the math, that leaves $105K left to maybe build some more nice structures downtown, if these four new firms have some good ideas … Possibly, the other local firms which donated the $200K didn’t have any good ideas …
    It wasn’t really our taxpayers’ money in the first place if it was donated first, right?  Again, I’m simply wanting to learn here … and possible help some …

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  2. David Sparks June 3, 2011 / 8:02 am
    The Dayton Informer has video of the questions posed by Mayor Gary Leitzell to Dayton Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein concerning the adaptive re-use.
     
    http://daytoninformer.com/?p=472

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  3. Gary June 3, 2011 / 8:41 am
    I wasn’t able to open the link/video on the Mayor’s questioning; but, it appears that Gary L. is starting to think like David E!  From one blog to another … :-)

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  4. larry sizer June 3, 2011 / 9:18 am
    no comment…

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  5. Julian Hill June 3, 2011 / 9:50 am
    There seems to be a prevailing belief among city officials everywhere that they can “build it and they will come” when it comes to reinvigorating downtown.  Instead of spending money on over priced “consultants” with ridiculous ideas about how to attract young, creative workers and pipe dreams of a “re-imagined” downtown they should focus on increasing basic services and creating policies and programs that encourage entrepreneurs.  That’s real economic development and once you attract the people that want a “re-imagined” downtown, the city will have the increased tax revenues to implement it.  Anything else is putting the cart before the horse.  I’d say it’s common sense but apparently it’s not that common.

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  6. Gina Kay Landis June 3, 2011 / 10:06 am
     
    Freaking INSANE – when City of Dayton REFUSES to grant a zoning variance to permit a former business to be a single family home, when repurposing existing buildings takes an act of God or more to get done, just irritating. The original report had stellar, wonderful repurposing architectural visions and what will this one have? More of the same? To do what with? NOTHING??? For those who cry “We Love Dayton” maybe more pressure could be put on the leadership to actually freaking DO SOMETHING with the amazing visions people have for this city!!

    @ginakayRE

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  7. Gary June 3, 2011 / 10:33 am
    @Gina-
    Things are being done downtown, look at the new Pavillion on Monument; the ball park; all the statues; skating areas for the kids; bike routes …
    Do we need a Dayton Zoo?  Come on people, we are going to make it here!  I was reading today that Valerie Lemmie was back in Dayton a few years ago, reaching out to Kettering … There’s another venue, The Fraze, we have the Shuster, what more do you want?

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  8. artist rendering June 3, 2011 / 10:48 am
    The study for Downtown Dayton Partnership and the Reuse Study for CityWide are not close in scope whatsoever. The DDP plans were conceptual “what if” plans… “What if” as in “If we could do whatever we wanted with this building, what would be cool and interesting and attract people?” It was a good exercise yielding great results, and showcased the creative talent of our local architectural firms.
    The new reuse study is about doing the actual work needed to save valuable downtown commodities. The buildings included in the study need attention before they can be reused for anything. It’s about identifying priorities to ensure the longevity of these structures and identifying which hold the most potential for reuse success. After things like mechanical systems and abatement are addressed, then maybe it will be time to do something creative with them.
    Also, the RFP was competitive and after the initial submissions the shortlisted firms went through an interview process. After working on both the DDP study and the RFP, I felt the need to set the record straight.

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  9. David Esrati June 3, 2011 / 11:50 am

    Thanks @Artist for setting the record straight-

    we, the taxpayers, are paying for consultants to analyze what can be done with buildings we don’t own (except one- according to Ms. Dickstein). What’s next- pay consultants to analyze what the forecast is for Fraze Pavillion attendence- or, occupancy rates at Austin Road?

    The city is supposedly in a cash crunch- cutting essential services. If anything- we should sell the building we own for a $1, with the guarantee that X$ is invested in the next three years and property taxes are paid.

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  10. Donald Phillips June 3, 2011 / 11:54 am
    Hobo shorthand has undergone its first  revision since the 1930s. “D8N” is the new easy mark. 

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  11. Gary June 3, 2011 / 2:42 pm
    Ok, the Dayton Business Journal says the three buildings are: 11 W. Monument (?); the old DDN building on Ludlow; and Fidelity and garage buildings on 5th and Main … And the DBJ is calling these buildings select buildings, and these informal resolutions were supposed to be discussed at the City Commission meeting this past Wednesday … Were they, I missed it, I only saw Mike from the Greenhouse speak, who was way too nervous; and incidentally, the City wiped out his entire nursery operation at the Greenhouse, leaving only him and Peggy to run the entire show!
    Why couldn’t the old DDN building be used for DPS, it’s right there on the same street; I don’t know what 11 W. Monument is; and the Fidelity building, well would it be cheaper to implode it, or demolish it, or is it still occupied?
    What is Nan saying?

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  12. David Lauri June 3, 2011 / 5:41 pm
    Gary misunderstands and asks, “It wasn’t really our taxpayers’ money in the first place if it was donated first, right?”
     
    I’m not allowed to call other commenters on Esrati.com names (David E reserves to himself the right to call his visitors idiots), but it would seem that someone is lacking in reading comprehension.
     
    The $95,000 that the City Commission just authorized to be spent did not come from donations. The $200,000 that Gary misunderstood to be donations that would cover this new $95,000 expenditure was not real money.  It was the estimated value of the “professional creative time” that the “ten local architectural firms” donated in 2009 working on building reuse project designs.

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  13. mike ruetschle June 3, 2011 / 7:25 pm
    i run an architecture firm in town and didn’t see the RFP, doesn’t mean that there was not one, just that if there was it wasn’t widely circulated (for example through the AIA). While I love Dayton and remain hopeful for the city, that study will undoubtedly uncover truths widely know without spending money. After abatement and renovation, the cost of bringing these buildings up to code will nearly equal the cost of new construction. And why would any capital minded investor invest $200/sf on a major renovation, when they can purchase class A office space for $20/sf (a la Premier). Developers would be developing these projects on their own if the numbers worked.

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  14. Gary June 4, 2011 / 11:01 am
    Hey David L., I figured out your orange helmit is a dunce cap!  :-)  Sticks and stones … Whatever man …
    Ten Local Architectural Firms Donate Nearly $200,000 in Service.  Okay, I see my mistake now, thanks man, I can take constructive criticism …
    2000 $ creative time  = 200$ per firm for their ideas, ha, ha … good thing it wasn’t real money!  So 95K was our
    10 firms                                                                   tax money, I see now … just a spit in the bucket for a good cause, IMO, let’s see who has the best ideas now … of the four firms who didn’t see the request for proposals.  :-(

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  15. Jeff Dziwulski June 4, 2011 / 2:07 pm
    After abatement and renovation, the cost of bringing these buildings up to code will nearly equal the cost of new construction. And why would any capital minded investor invest $200/sf on a major renovation, when they can purchase class A office space for $20/sf (a la Premier). Developers would be developing these projects on their own if the numbers worked.

    …it might make more sense to invest in a demolition cost study vs adaptive re-use, to price out the aquistion and demo costs of vacant properties.   I think making Dayton green space like Dave Hall Plaza or the old Patterson School site (which should be landscaped as more than just a lawn) would make the downtown more appealing.

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  16. Gina Kay Landis June 5, 2011 / 10:29 am
    Gary – don’t get me wrong – I am quite aware and love the things that are currently being done in Dayton – however to spend $200K on a project that is then primarily ignored to subsequently spend another $95K on yet another visioning simply seems crazy. The repurposing of buildings is adjunct to the developments you describe.

    Mike R., certainly that RFP should have been more widely disseminated. As for costs relative to rehabbing, those surely can be hefty – but why lose a structure to demolition if it has any historical significance and can be rehabbed to standards and used as live/work space – particularly when (as a Realtor) I am hearing numerous people clamor for more live/work space in the downtown sector? IF these folks are willing to pay market rent for properties rehabbed/repurposed with an eye to the living spaces being big enough for sharing and IF small businesses are willing to enter the burgeoning small business market in a town desperate to and positioned to survive and thrive in ways that many of us envision, why balk at that?

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  17. Gary June 5, 2011 / 11:28 am
    Gina- The City did not spend $200K (see the last few comments), it only has invested $95K so far to four firms for their reuse recommendations of several downtown buildings … as the Assistant Manager mentioned at the last City Commission Meeting which I finally got to see …
    The report Mike gave on proper pruning of trees was very good, btw, too …
    I think the Fidelity building needs to go.  I’m not sure if the radio station U-92 is still in there but the building and parking lot are eye sores.

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  18. Brian June 5, 2011 / 12:50 pm
    @Gary, the radio station has been gone since about 2002.  The sign is just too hard to reach and hasn’t been removed.

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  19. David Esrati June 5, 2011 / 1:30 pm

    @Gary- before you write off the Fidelity building- maybe you should be aware that at one point there were a few floors with raised floor cooling systems for a serious data management company.

    Don’t judge a book by it’s cover- and they don’t build buildings that look  that good anymore. Nothing wrong with it- other than lack of vision and demand.

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