Lots optioned, nothing gained: the Wayne Ave Kroger Debacle

December 31, 2009, came and went. We were all so busy wondering what the new mayor would bring, that we just forgot about a couple of million tax dollars that were spent for nothing.

Yep- in the grand design of government as a developer, the City of Dayton made a whole bunch of bad bets to bring a new Kroger to the corner of Wayne and Wyoming– only to see the options expire, with no grocery in sight.

We do now own a twenties-style burned shell of a building and a few additional lots that we spent $800,000 on.

Yeah for the “developers” in City Hall. Prime real estate across from the new Dollar General in the former RiteAid.

Tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on private business. For $2 million, we could have built a dog park, a spray park, or paid a whole bunch of cops to work extra hard at making people feel safer in the city. After driving through Dayton View today- I also wonder if we shouldn’t have been using money to stabilize some of the best housing stock in the city- to preserve it for the day when we have people ready to move back in? (this idea for H1B visas could do the trick).

For $2 million we could have something of value for all of us. Instead, we actually destabilized an entire neighborhood, labeling it “blighted” and forcing disinvestment and uncertainty.

We also played favorites- taking over the project that Midland Atlantic botched in the first place, while snubbing local developer JZ Companies that had put together a very viable plan and parcel off Warren Street utilizing the former Cliburn Manor that now lies fallow.

No city official has taken a hit for this boondoggle, nor has anyone looked into what went wrong to make sure this kind of error won’t be repeated. In fact, it seems to have been forgotten.

There probably should be a class-action lawsuit in the works, from the property owners against the city- for causing the depreciation in their properties thanks to the “blighted” designation- which will end up costing us even more.

In the meantime, the taxpayers are being asked to pony up $5 million for the arcade. When will we learn?

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