Dayton makes another mess of “economic development”

Eric Segalewitz isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he’s a good guy, who invested a lot of his money, time and labor buying almost the entire block of houses across from the former DMHA shithole Cliburn Manor. He did this without any assistance from the city, CityWide or anyone else. Most people thought he was crazy- why would you want to invest or live across from a drug infested, crime den public housing project?

He did it- because he had the foresight to know that eventually Miami Valley Hospital and UD would surgically remove the neighborhood cancer- and then his real estate would be valuable.

He’s not the only one who had some vision of profiting from their grand plans. Jimmy Brandeis of Jimmie’s Ladder 11 held out for his sweetheart deal to move Jimmie’s Cornerstone across the street, with a parking lot, a huge patio, and double the space.

Fred Allen, a local slumlord, sold two of his shit-hole houses for $150K each, way above market value.

There are still a few holdouts- the antique store at Oak and Warren, which was at one time owned by South Park Social Capital won’t sell out. Neither will the Krafts who own the last two remaining homes on Warren’s West side.

Some people think Segalewitz is trying to fleece the city for their incompetence. But, if we look at the cast of characters revealed in today’s Dayton Daily news article- it’s the same incompetent crew that’s driven the cart off the road before with impunity:

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, admitted the city erred but questioned Segalewitz’s legal right to the land.

He said the city has no plan to fork over a big payout for administrative oversight.

“We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” he said.Segalewitz, 50, who owns the company Upscale Realty, a few years ago applied to purchase a vacant lot next to his home at 32 Alberta St.

Segalewitz applied for the land through Dayton’s Lot Links program, which allows people to buy abandoned, tax-delinquent properties for a relatively small fee.

Segalewitz’s request was approved, and he paid about $650 for the property, which was transferred in March 2012.

The lot belonged to the city of Dayton, which had purchased it from Greater Dayton Premier Management in December 2011, as part of a larger land deal.

The city acquired the side lot and 5 acres across Alberta Street for about $340,000, or its appraised value, city officials said. The two parcels were part of the same deed.

The five acres was the former site of the Cliburn Manor housing projects, which were demolished in 2008. The city wanted the land to support redevelopment efforts near South Park and Miami Valley Hospital.

But when the deed was written to transfer the vacant lot to Upscale Realty, it also unintentionally contained the Cliburn real estate, Sorrell said.“We made a mistake with the deed and inadvertently put both pieces of property on the deed, and not just the one he wanted,” Sorrell said.

The quit claim deed was signed on Feb. 27, 2012, by Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Assistant City Attorney Jonathan Croft.

Segalewitz said he only learned he owned the deed to the Cliburn property about six weeks ago while preparing to sell his Alberta Street home and the adjoining lot.

Source: City redevelopment tract mistakenly sold

Sorrell was the one who also said “Oops” when Rauch Demolition mistakenly tore down the back part of the historic Cox building at Fourth and Ludlow. He’s also the one who signed off on tearing down the Schwind building for the “Student Suites” deal which isn’t happening due to a deed restriction that was well known.

Shelly Dickstein was the braintrust in charge of the development deal for the Wayne Avenue Kroger where the city jumped through hoops for over 4 years- with no contract in place, which was well documented on this site. The city had no problem paying over $800K for the burned out Ecki building and then demolishing it to make an empty lot, despite the building being an eyesore and owing taxes.

The real question is why does the city insist on buying real estate at all? Why did they spend over $100,000 long ago to buy the lot now known as Garden Station? Why did they buy the building behind it (which I did a FOIA request on – and got no answer). Why did they buy the old Supply One building and 601 E. Third for $450K each?

And the “We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” line sure is funny. Go back to when a group including the family of the former County Administrator Deb Feldman purchased the Sears building downtown for a mere $200K. When the Riverscape fountain plan was released, the County hadn’t secured the tiny outlot attached to the Sears property. In a battle of testosterone and threats of using eminent domain, the price escalated from the initial offer of $3.2 million to over $8 million for that piece of land. Segalewitz just isn’t related to the right people apparently.

The fact that Segalewitz didn’t get a tax bill for his windfall- is because CityWide and MVH don’t pay taxes- nor does the city. And the city will grant a sweetheart tax break to Oberer/Greater Dayton Construction for building whatever they come up with on the property. Segalewitz is one of the little people- he’s expected to pay taxes unlike the connected few.

It’s time to do a full investigation of city land purchases, real estate investment, and money to CityWide development. A full detailing of the investment in Tech Town and the “Entrepreneurs Center”- and the actual returns might be a good starting point.

While we don’t have money to cut the grass in City parks, but do have the money to buy swath’s of land for our friends is a criminal diversion of tax dollars. Segalewitz is not the bad guy. The bad guys are on our payroll.

 

The next Montgomery County Administrator? Clay Mathile?

Clayton Mathile portrait

Clay Mathile

If New York City can have the services of Michael Bloomberg for a dozen years, why can’t Dayton benefit from having local business legend Clay Mathile take the helm as the new Montgomery County Administrator now that Deb Feldman has found her soft landing which so many of our local political has beens seem to find.

Instead, our county commission is announcing the de rigueur “national search” to find Feldman’s replacement:

Deputy County Administrator Joe Tuss will be named interim county administrator. County Commission President Judy Dodge anticipates a national search for Feldman’s replacement.

via Feldman named new CEO of Children’s Medical Center.

Feldman’s leaving this year came as no surprise to anyone, it has been known for over a year by insiders. The real question is why, if Feldman was such a capable leader, do we need to do a search at all? Why hadn’t she groomed a stable of capable replacements. As I’ve said before, true leaders build organizations that can continue smoothly after they leave. Despite various pundits claiming Apple without Steve Jobs was doomed, its stock price has almost doubled since Jobs’s death and the profits keep soaring. Granted, the real question comes after 2-3 years to see if the product innovation pipeline continues to deliver smash products, but for now, look at how smoothly the company transitioned leadership.

Why Mathile?

Besides being well known in the region, he’s also someone who chose to build a business here and did it successfully. His focus on high-performance organizations has been backed up with his kind donation of Aileron to the community- a business institute committed to improving businesses for the health of our community. He knows our community well, as well as all the major players and could be the one leader who is capable of moving regional cooperation and consolidation forward without having any of our mini-fiefdom leaders toe the line and get in step.

And of course, while we’d be more than happy to pay him what Feldman makes or more, I’m pretty sure he’d work for a $1 a year, and attract a whole bunch of new talent to the ranks of county government of young bright talent who know the value of the experience of working with a business tycoon. Gone would be the legions of sycophants and patronage peons who grace every floor of the county building, putting in their time for their almighty pension payoff.

Sure the argument can be made that at 71, why would Mathile do this? Bloomberg seems to have found new energy as mayor of NYC and would have been more than happy to serve another term. If Bloomberg can, why can’t Mathile?

Our region needs a transformational leader more than ever, and the short list of possible candidates is small. My second choice would be to recruit David Hopkins from Wright State or possibly Dan Curran from UD. Former hospital network CEO’s could also be on the shortlist.

If we’re going to rebuild this community, we should begin by realizing that we have local talent, we only need to look around and think of what could be, instead of what we’ve done in the past. The past is what got us here, time to move on.

I welcome your suggestions, comments or candidate submissions on this post.

 

 

 

The frustration of a Dayton small business owner

Jason Liff is someone I’ve known for a long time. He’s been in real estate as long as I’ve known him, and has done some decent sized deals. He was the one who introduced me to the owner of the Salem Mall- which I tried to save. He also was one of the investors on the Sears deal downtown that netted the investors quite a bit (one of the investors was County Administrator Deborah Feldman’s father-in-law who is her husband’s partner).

UPDATE

Jason also put together the Walgreens deal at Wayne and Wyoming- the one that went in ahead of Rite Aid- even though it got the later start (thanks to historic overlay- the forced move of a worthless house and other delays).

I suggested that Jason open a scooter store over 4 years ago. Last year he did. My firm did his identity and some initial ads. He posted this on the free bus ride editorial on the DDN site- I’m not changing spelling or punctuation.

I voted with my money and opened a scooter store on Wayne Avenue. It took over a year to get through the zoning and permitting process . From experience I can report that, but for a few people, the entire system is riddled with a mentality of no , no, no . -“You cannot do this or that & One cannot change the use of a derelict building on Brown Street . No you cannot put your scooter store in The Oregon “, even though a 5000 sf space exists that no one wants to buy or rent. Why do people avoid Dayton ? Demographics of course. In the main there is a systemic business unfriendly all pervasive atmosphere coupled with a perception of potential violence . We need to encourage small business by discouraging and truncating governments strangle hold on new business ! The city government has rooms full of employees who read chapter and verse from the , THE BOOK OF NO . As an early visitor to the NYC SOHO & Tribeca districts in 1970 ,I can tell you these now model districts did not get started by a pervasive and draconian implementing of every minute policy practice and procedure . Like all such areas in the world they start by a few young , artistic, counterculture oriented people looking for cheaper spaces to work and play with some character. Why don’t we finish up tenanting the Oregon district and loosening the regs that stand in the way ? A few community activist in Oregon that were urban pioneers now block changes to completing 5th Street . How about enforcing the speed limit on Wayne avenue ? How about enforcing anti-littering laws . My sidewalk and lot are littered by 100’s of cigarette butts and candy pop cans . How about an ombudsman process that guarantees answers to all zoning and permitting issues in seven days ? National retail tenants are not coming back so go after the small entrepreneurs, the new Americans that are not afraid of hard work and tough clientele and the arts and crafts communities . The RTA has wasted a lot of money on their edifice complex, even so we do not need free busing of more thugs and scary types. What Dayton does have is cheap rent , cheap buildings ,a vibrant artistic community and historic housing stock that people would cry for in most cities. Artists , and musicians especially can find cheap rent at Front Street —We need more ! Finish something already- Try to fill every building on Wayne and Fifth and Brown and Warren. Oh yes bicycle lanes would be great for scooters mopeds and bicycles and any separation from SUV speeders that crowd others while talking on their phones. Untangle the choke holds of the 3 or 4 structures that throttle all but what they want ! Government is the problem—the entrenched versus the new —Until resolved the buildings will stay boarded up and the retail community will stay away . Call me ! Jason Liff Moto Scooto 1400 Wayne

via Editorial: Free bus rides not the city’s best strategy | A Matter of Opinion.

Jason looked hard and long for a location in the city. Almost everything he found – there was a reason he couldn’t go in. The building he’s in on Wayne Avenue- was on “death row.” There were options from the city to buy it that ended in December- so they could tear it down for a Kroger that wasn’t coming. He had to invest in the building, since the owner wouldn’t- to repair the roof which was leaking. Even his paint job- which some may love and some may hate- is technically in violation of the zoning code. The colors aren’t “historic.” Since the building was condemned the city seemed to look the other way.

The location he really wanted- on 5th Street in the Oregon district- a former pawn shop, between a porn shop and Goodwill- is still sitting empty. It was bigger, had the walking traffic he was interested in reaching- and even has a garage door in back. No deal. Wrong use, too intensive, not enough parking- etc. etc. So it still sits empty.

This isn’t the only business person I’ve heard horror stories from, and it’s not hard to hear them. Another businessman who has successfully rehabbed many downtown buildings over the last 20 years and knows his way around city hall at first ran into a roadblock trying to get a demolition permit on a nasty concrete block garage next to his new project. Apparently it had a $7,000 water bill still attached to it. How anyone can buy a building and NOT find out about a water bill for more than the property sold for is another big FAIL at business friendly.

We also have a bed and breakfast fighting for a permit to sell wine in the Oregon District. It took the 5th Street Wine and Deli almost a year to get their permit. This isn’t new, Pacchia and What You Eat both had to fight to get their permits, too. Some “entertainment” district.

I still believe in Dayton– even though I just had my office broken into. But, I remember back to the hassles I went through over 20 years ago to reclaim a derelict building, including a nine-month delay in an occupancy permit and the realization that my zoning is still considered a “conditional use” even though the building was built as a commercial retail structure. To add insult to injury, the building inspector required that my front door (which has a huge window in it) had to have a single key deadbolt with a thumb key- which gave the thieves the ability to break in and get out easier.

Yep, the city of Dayton needs a new attitude, and quick. Mr. Liff spells it out pretty clearly. The question is can an old dog learn new tricks? Mayor Leitzell is only one vote.

Revisionist newspaper websites

The Dayton Daily News has been inconsistent about allowing comments on articles. There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason to which articles allow comments, which ones don’t- and on more than a few occasions- they’ve blown the comments away and closed them.

Today Greene Party Tea Party candidate Virgil Vaduva pointed out that they’d taken down a post about his lawsuit against Greene County for hiring Avakian Consulting with tax dollars to prep a levy, or pass it, or do “marketing.” The post may return 404 errors- but, the wonders of the internet do provide access to it still via cache.

The last comment on it in my cached version was my own:

If you are interested in reading more about Burges & Burges who have the Dayton Public Schools no-bid contract: http://esrati.com/?s=burges
And more about the Greene County lawsuit specifically: http://esrati.com/now-political-con…
It would be interesting to see what “deliverables” were actually delivered to Dayton Public Schools over the last 15 months- and to note that the contract was just as long as the superintendent’s stay (Burges recom. Stanic)
David Esrati
2010-03-25 06:58:44.091
And- the “nice people” at Avakian consulting posted the entire article here on their blog for posterity: http://outreachexperts.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html
and I’m pretty sure Ray Marcano, the DDN online editor, won’t be calling them up demanding they take it down as he did me when I posted an entire endorsement article about me- because they didn’t.
The comment before mine leads to another blog- with an expose of Avakian and what his firm really is: a political lobbying firm:
Here is more about Avakian’s past and techniques on how municipalities can skirt election law: http://stopxeniatax.blogspot.com/20…
Charles
2010-03-25 10:27:47.638
If they are taking articles down- what else are they hiding at the Dayton Daily News? They’ve now run two editorials in support of embattled Montgomery County Administrator Deborah Feldman, (today’s and a few weeks ago predicting Feldman will weather SCLC storm) who should be packing up her office along with several of her underlings for their failure to monitor Federal money.
By taking articles down, by making searches incredibly difficult for the average person, the Dayton Daily News actually helps obfuscate the sad state of affairs in the Dayton Region.
A quality newspaper with high editorial standards wouldn’t remove content like this.

The real costs of our local government

Regular readers will know this subject is nothing new- we’ve got too many chiefs for a shrinking number of Indians. Not only that, but the Indians aren’t getting enough work since paying for all those chiefs costs business a bit more than it does in other states. But, it’s not just a matter of too many chiefs, it’s a question of are any of them any good?

If they want to keep trying to work with the system we have, the answer is simple: Nope, none of them are worth even the time it would take to think about recalling them (another issue in Ohio is it is almost impossible to depose anyone- no matter how incompetent). Of course, no one listens to local logic- nope, we have to wait for some out of town consulting firm or thinktank to tell us the obvious (in this case it’s the Brookings Institute):

School districts are not the only thing Ohio has in spades. It also has some 3,800 local government units, including 250 cities, 695 villages and 1,308 townships. The result is that “total local government payroll in Ohio is 10 percent above the national average and 17.5 percent above the peer state average,” according to Brookings.

None of this government is free, which leads to another finding: Ohio residents have the ninth-highest local tax burden in the country, compared with the 34th highest for state taxes. To know that fact is to understand that concentrating all the political fights about taxes in Columbus — as if state taxes alone define our competitiveness — is missing a big cost of doing business and living in Ohio.

via Editorial: Ohio’s rebound depends on cities | A Matter of Opinion.

But then again, even with reducing the numbers of fiefdoms, we’d still have to have someone to run the show. In Montgomery County, that job falls to Deborah “Teflon” Feldman, our County Administrator. She’s the “CEO” of the County- one that’s been hemorrhaging jobs and property value over the last 15 years. Of course, no one wants to blame Deborah, because she’s so good at what she does- mainly, keep the County Government out of the limelight and letting the city of Dayton sink or swim on its own. Not her problem- and not one she wants to take on. Of course, the problems she faces seem to get to be someone else’s fault every time- the buck never stops with her. Read what the DDN editorial written by her friend Ellen Belcher says:

Lesser embarrassments have cost people their jobs. But no one in high places is pointing a finger at Deborah Feldman, Montgomery County administrator. In fact, quite the opposite, they defend her fiercely and say they’re heartsick that she’s had to do most of the explaining publicly for the SCLC debacle.

The support for her stems from history, relationships and capital built up over almost 30 years.

via Ellen Belcher: County’s Feldman will weather SCLC storm | A Matter of Opinion.

Of late, even though we seem to have a bi-monthly scandal, no one wants to look at the top. The SCLC getting handed Federal funds without follow up, the Sheriff and his sister, the 911 dispatch system, the attempt to sneak in a vote to raise the hotel/motel tax to pay for a hockey arena at Austin Road, the big donation to the Dayton Development Coalition so that it could hire Congressman Turner’s wife on a no-bid contract- nothing seems to stick to her or her very slick aide de camp, County Economic Development Director Joe Tuss. No one is asking the hard questions about how this brilliant ED/GE fund is working at turning our community around. Nope, none of it is her fault, although she’s the second highest paid public employee in the County (after Dr. Stephen Johnson at Sinclair).

I’d still like to see an investigation into how the City of Dayton bought the old Sears building downtown from an investment group including Feldman’s husband and father in law at an enormous premium to put up the Riverscape fountains (and btw- how did that work out for us?).

The Dayton Grassroots Daily Show discusses both of these editorials and hopes that after reading and watching this- you have questions of your own.

Enjoy: