Mass exodus from Oakwood! And other DDN failures

I too was dumbfounded how Dayton losing “droves of people” was a front page headline in the Dayton Daily News, but Dayton planning director and urban visionary John Gower puts it all in perspective in his OpEd column today.

John Gower: Dayton isn’t losing ‘droves’ of people
I was dumbfounded to see the exaggerated headline, “Residents leaving Dayton in droves,” in the June 28 Dayton Daily News.

The story was about the continuing trend of population declines in the most mature local communities.

The headline essentially placed the declining population spotlight squarely on the city, while ignoring the clear fact that most of the region is feeling the exact same effects of a shifting job base and unrestrained urban sprawl. I would think describing 0.9 percent of the city’s total population as a “drove” would make even a headline writer blush.

Under that definition, if Dayton is losing people in “droves,” Oakwood, which this decade experienced a higher percentage of population loss than Dayton, must be suffering a “mass exodus.”

Let’s be clear: The declining population trend is not new, nor is it unique to the city of Dayton or this region. The Midwest, unfortunately, has plenty of examples of formerly heavy manufacturing-based communities feeling the effects of a changing economic foundation.

There are examples of population decline across our entire state, led by Cleveland, which reportedly lost 6.9 percent of its population since the beginning of the decade. This trend is not something new.

Right under John’s piece was Oakwood’s response– which also clearly states that these numbers are probably full of shit to begin with.

The reality is, the region is floundering thanks to poor land use planning, restrictive zoning and building codes that make it far easier to build on a cornfield than renovate anything, sprawl, and lack of leadership.

Once again- look at the track record of governments that have embraced uni-gov and regional planning and cooperation- and you see a big difference in growth. If this interests you- I highly recommend coming to the Grassroots Dayton steering committe meeting at Oakwoods Wright Library- Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm. They are trying to move the region toward a smart growth strategy and shared services and planning.

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geneBruce KettelleD. GreenepizzabillDavid Esrati Recent comment authors
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A chat with someone who works for DDN has told me of a few people who have a say on what is headline news to our region just hate the City of Dayton, and enjoy these negative headlines. Read “Comment on this story” links when DDN online invites reader input. No matter the subject, the comments will inevitably go sour.

Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter

The DDN and WHIO-TV with their recent helicopter fly over of the much heralded Austin Road Interchange reveal the true intentions of these hack organizations. They make money on this sprawl, while knowing exactly what it does to the Dayton area. The COX sisters have not helped the Dayton area and one can only conclude that COX has hated Dayton for sometime as they have given us Brad Tillson, Jeff Bruce and the rest of the editorial staff. While Dayton is losing population and tearing down schools, the City of Springboro is building schools and increasing taxes to support this new infrastructure. It is appalling stupid, but we are in Dayton and most of the country thinks we are stupid anyway. I have always hoped we would turn it around, but we are are continuing to dig a hole. It is amazing to watch the confluence of endemic racism coupled with the belief that Dayton can sprawl and still be a viable City. People want City life as it is evident as I go to McCity (The Greene) and appreciate the glimpse of what Downtown once was. In the future as energy prices increase, all prices will increase and the ability for Dayton to have its food shipped from all over the globe will increase prices, requiring a return to local food production. At the same time the Dayton area is paving over some of the best farm land in the country. The Dayton area and America in general is making stupid investments for our future and I find it telling that as energy prices have risen, the housing bubble is popping. I am sorry that most people who make money are considered the intelligent people and that they should decide what is best for the common good. These people have made money primarily by exploiting people or the government and have made decisions that will and have cost the area. What the future holds 1 The Miami Valley will not be able to maintain the infrastructure of our sprawled out community. 2 We will fight to maintain our sprawled… Read more »


John Gower is indeed an urban visionary. Does anyone recall when he was running that Living City project over where that coffeeshop is at at Ludlow and 5th? (title taken from Holly White’s book). That was a great little urban resource center to provoke people to think about making things better downtown. I think he had something to do with those “Cityshape/Cityscape” forums, too. I know John walks the urban revival walk as well as talking the talk because at that time I think he was living in an old mansion in Dayton View.

Now John steps in to give some perspective on these numbers, saying things that SHOULD be coming from elected officials (John, after all, like that Oakwood guy, works for a mayor and council).

And that Oakwood guy gave some great perspetive on these census “estimates”, which shows the actual 10 year snapshot is off from the last year estimate by some degree. So there is apparently an issue with that formula the census is using. Gower himself isn’t challenging the numbers, but do bear in mind that these are just estimates.

Kevins comment:
[quote]Read “Comment on this story” links when DDN online invites reader input. No matter the subject, the comments will inevitably go sour.[/quote]
…yeah, you really get a good window on the local bad karma through those comments sections. Its not really the DDNs fault that their readers are, well, pretty bitter about a lot of things.


…and, I recently heard talk that the Dayton Metro library downtown main library might be moving to the NCR site, next to or near the DDN. Hows that for interesting urban affairs gossip?

Drexel Dave

How is this for some hot development gossip?

Books and Co. is already planning on not-renewing its four-year lease at the Greed.

Heard that from a long-time employee who is intimately involved with the management of the company.

David Esrati
David Esrati

I’ve also heard rumors that PF Changs by the Dayton Mall- and Flemmings, the swanky steakhouse at the Greene, are both on probation- if business doesn’t pick up- they will pickup and leave.
So much for unrestrained development.



It’s not surprising that a restaurant named “the Flemmings” (as you put it) winds up following others over the cliff.


The Books & Company at the Greene is a nice bookstore, its the selection that sucks; weaker and even more bland than their smaller store in Town and Country (which is pretty sucky too, compared to, say, 10 -15 years ago). I think what happened is when Books A Millionk closed their Washington Township store they made the new Books & Co into more of a Books A Million.

For a good counter-exakmple of a suburban bookstore see Joeseph-Beth in Cincinnati. Thats’ the one I go to…it is true “destination retail”. Glimcher needs to recruit them into the soon-to-be empty space so I won’t have to travel to Norwood.

Restaurant scene down here off of 725/mall area has been weak since 2000. Actually that whole 725 corridor has been declining. It was the hot spot in the 1980s and early to mid 90s but is going downhill.

The new boom areas south are the I-675/Wilmington interchange (esp. if Bear Creek builds that huge development they are proposing) and Springboro Pike between Newmark and Springboro, which is really starting to take off, particulalry the area around that new DLM just south of the Airport.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Bill, sorry about the typo.
Jeff- I’ve tried to talk to Jos. A Beth about locating in Dayton- had a location for them in the Oregon District- seems like an ultra-paranoid company- even though I had an e-mail contact from someone I met at an Cincy Ad Club meeting- their firewall kept bouncing my messages- and they don’t answer their phones.
Books-a-million changed the book culture at Books & Company- almost from the start- and it has just degraded from there. Books I used to count on being there- are often more likely to be found at Borders or Barnes & Nobel. Most of the time, I just order from Amazon thanks to the shrinking business section at Books & Co in Kettering- which used to rock.
It’s crazy to think that businesses and people think they have to move to Settler’s Walk to get a “Walkable” community- or that amenities have to follow the home builders. It has to stop. Make the taxes on new developments have to carry the costs of added infrastructure- roads, sewers, water, street lights, police protection- and esp. schools- they you will start seeing the developers looking back into the first ring suburbs- or even back at Dayton.

Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter

Comments on the Greene – I have studied it and I like the fact that it is walkable and I like the fact people want to live in a city setting. It shows what strict zoning can accomplish.

Management – I am suspecting that the management is very shrewd as they brought in local companies in order to buy support and a local base, but once those local companies are in place the Greene management will bring in a chain operation with the same line of products and under cut the locally owned operation.

If the above premise is true that they are shrewd, I also wonder how shrewd they are as the Comedy Club has to be going down and there is never a sole in the Gold’s Gym.

David – I agree with your last comment, but the powers that ran the county ensured the development in that area and our current generation of leaders are exacerbating the situation.


Is Settler’s Walk considered walkable? Wow that’s news to me.

The sprawl issue is nearly impossible to solve, as the US doesn’t have the legal system or body of law to support strict land use regulation, without it becoming a taking. The only place that I know of that did this was Lexington, but they did it by restricting water and sewer hookups to within an “urban service area”. Yet, within this area there still was sprawly development.

The closest this area came to seeing a development that was an environmentally freindly version of sprawl, where the developement was planned to merge into greenbelts and parkways following old woodlots and creek valleys, was the failed Newfields New Town.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Portland OR drew a circle and stopped development. It’s working.
It can be done.

D. Greene

David, I live close to the Greene and drive by it almost every day. I’ve been there a few times on random weekdays the past few weeks, and even at 8 pm, the parking lot surrounding Fleming’s is packed – so I don’t know if that is an indication of business they are pulling or if just everyone is parking right around there, but it seems pretty busy, and two new restaurants are going up as we speak – McCormick and Schmidt’s, a seafood restaurant, opens in August.

Bruce Kettelle

The Portland Urban Growth Boundary cannot happen here until state legislators empower regional leaders to create them. Currently any efforts like this in Ohio are essentially voluntary and therefore there is no enforcement tool if a community ignores a regional plan. This planning link provides a concise snapshot of how it works in Oregon.


The Greene is having a huge Jazz Fest next weekend – oh. that’s right, the cancelled it and did not tell anyone. but then again they did not advertise it much. Rumor has it Flemmings shall open a second location in the actual Downtown of Dayton…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I was at the Greene this morning and it was quite pleasant. Had some coffee at Caribou Coffee. Looks like things are under construction there for more stuff. Phase II?

That Golds Gym is a neat desgin, too.

This area is fortunate to have a shopping center like the Greene. You can tell they spent alot of time on the details there, to make it look good.

Bruce is correct about growth control. I think the opportunity for that has passed, anyway.


After reading Bruces link one can see how unrealistic something like the Portland system is for the Dayton area. A multi-county metro government controlling growth? Voted into being by the residents of the area? When Kettering has 4,000 signatures opposing something as innocouous as a joint emergency dispatch center?

Don’t you make me laugh!

Bruce Kettelle

Some in Porland also thought it was too late when the began to come up with a boundary. The original boundary included ample undeveloped area and infill opportunities. It will never be “too late” for Ohioans to get on board but I agree the sooner the better. But as Jeff points out Ohio communities and individuals have become to the ‘Home Rule’ concepts of governing which will be extremely difficult to overcome. Sounds like a good PR campaign challenge for someone.

If nothing happens in Ohio economics will eventually take control. When there becomes a shortage of farmland to grow enough food to feed the world, arable undeveloped land will become more valuable for farming than for growing houses. That will eventually control the problem of sprawl but by then it may truely be “too late.”