Disneyland – now in Dayton.

I broke down and went to “The Greene” last night. It was a Saturday night, and the place wasn’t quite hopping, but it had more action than Downtown does except when there is a show at the Schuster, Victoria and the Loft all on one night.
My friend kept muttering “sprawl”- and I kept looking for some sign that I hadn’t been transported to some other place- something that made “The Greene” uniquely Dayton. The only thing I could find was “Books and Company” – and even that is no longer a Dayton franchise and possibly the nail joint. Everything else could have been anywhere- just like the “development” on Miller Lane (with the exception of Sake- the sushi house). Even half full on the retail side, it had a vibrancy about it- from the huge graphics on the empty spaces- to the music pumped through the lampposts.
And the question kept coming up- why couldn’t this happen in Dayton- downtown?
The answer: because City hall is run by power mad despots who believe that strict enforcement of “the rules” is what is going to keep them employed- when in fact, it’s what’s going to put the city out of business.
The Greene is a mixed use complex- with space for retail, office and housing. To try to retrofit buildings in Downtown to do that is cost prohibitive, even if they were originally built that way. Take for example the beautiful buildings of the Terra Cotta district on Fifth Street between Main and Ludlow- or the entire block of E. Third between Jefferson and St. Clair- all have apartments upstairs sitting vacant- because of zoning and building code requirements that make their reuse crazy expensive.
Requirements like expensive fire suppression systems, fireproof stairwells, parking within 250 feet of the building, elevators, handicapped access, firewalls between retail and office and residential spaces the list goes on. So, if we can’t adapt them, and can’t assemble large enough parcels for redevelopment for critical mass- they just continue to decay and go underutilized.
Even tearing them down is expensive with asbestos and other required environmental abatements- leaving corn fields much more attractive to development.
Interesting enough, The Greene has 2 parking garages and some large lots in addition to the “on-street” parking. The developer realizes that his primary audience needs easy, free parking. Has the city made any kinds of moves to create a matrix of convenient parking lots? No. The Oregon District sits one block from a large, mostly underutilized parking garage (the transportation center) yet is not allowed to count that garage towards zoning requirements.
Instead of building a proper garage behind the EPA and Ned Peppers buildings, they squandered the opportunity with a surface lot.
So, instead of filling up the remaining retail spaces, we make it a constant battle for small businesses to open in our “real” version of “the Greene.”
Things like fighting the liquor permit for the Fifth Street Wine and Deli- and the above mentioned development restrictions.
If the city wants to see development like the Greene happen within the Central Business District, we need to figure out how to bend and flex the rules to expedite mixed-use development of our authentic retail/office/residential spaces instead of making it impossible. The Cannery, largely seen as a success, was delayed several years because of bureaucratic red tape- and the office component on the second floor was killed off by it.
Somehow, if we want to compete, we need to learn to dance with the developers and create opportunities to build our authentic downtown to compete with developers Disneyland- I just hope we choose something uniquely Dayton to be piped out of all the lampposts- like Guided By Voices, Zapp, the Ohio Players, Hawthorne Heights etc.
That way, we’ll never feel like we’ve been transported to Disneyland.

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Bill DanielsJeffDavid SparksPhillip RanlyGene Baugh Recent comment authors
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This is enlightening. I had no idea the city has regulations that discourage reuse of old buildings (naive perhaps). What can be done to change this?

Gene Baugh
Gene Baugh

The city, and many cities for that matter, have always had many restrition – fear of law suits, b/c of danger or not “handicap” accesible are two reasons. The city of Dauton drop the ball. The Green is nice, clean, not yet done and still has a certain excitement Downtown Dayton does not have – and most likley will not. I think there are many people who want to support Downtown, but there is no reason to go with limited dining options (I am not talking about the Oregon District, rather the “Central Business District.) You can not even get a STEAK in Downtown Dayton unless you are a member of the Dayton Raquet Club. Downtown has not real nice dining – AGAIN, NO OPTION FOR DINNER. I agree with David that if we want Dayton to succeed then we need to look at the Oregon Distict and other parts of Dayton and utilize their creative energy to make Dayton a place to work/live/love/have fun. Making the dentral business district vibrant, even just with BUSINESSES, seems impossible.

Phillip Ranly
Phillip Ranly

Wow, when is it possible for you to become CEO and ruler of Dayton? I would love nothing more than for all of those things to happen downtown. It is time to start thinking about what we want the city to be and not what silly rules we should play by.

David Sparks

David would be a great addition to the city leadership. Unfortunately, as he noted earlier, the leadership at City Hall is is bound and determined to go down with the ship than trying to fix the leaks.

On an unrelated note, there is a brand new drexel cd ready for public consumption:



The advantage the Greene has (and any other shopping center or office park, for that matter), is that the parking is FREE. So what if there is a parking garage near the Oregon or there are plenty of lots downtown. One has to pay to use them. Given the choice people will park for free in an ersatz downtown rather than pay to park in a real one.

The other big advantage the Greene has is that it is private property. Meaning the owners can kick out anyone who doesn’t behave or who alienates their customers. Downtown Dayton is public space, so one is confronted with pandhandlers, homeless, etc.

And, of course, the building and fire codes, which really dont bother me too much. The only way around that is some sort of legistlative remedy or waiver as the city would be liable in the event of a mishap, which is highly likely given our sue-happy culture.


Regarding Downtown Dayton vs. the Malls:

As much as Dayton’s officials say that parking meters are an important source of revenue and a financial necessity downtown, they fail to realize that getting a parking ticket for $20 and getting $20 stolen from you feels pretty much like the same thing.

And I’ll even say the parking ticket feels worse: the very people who invite you to come Downtown (the City you are trying to support) are the ones who love to get that $20 from you.

The Malls have a huge advantage in that you don’t feel preyed upon by their owners for being there.