Tearing down is not building up Dayton.

My office would have been torn down.
So would 412 Hickory, which now houses an architect’s very cool office.

Had we demolished these “nuisance structures” there would be fewer jobs in the city. I’m not looking forward to the day when they tear down the Ecki building at Wayne and Wyoming- I’d rather see it boarded nicely- than another grass field.

On a recent drive to a work project, I drove through Madison, Indiana. Its downtown was still virtually intact from pre-1950. It had a quality that our downtown will never have- and on a Thursday at 2 p.m., it had people and retail all over.

Tearing things down does not build a city up.

The current rush to tear down buildings is a band-aid on the bullet wounds we’ve allowed to fester for years. Yes, a lot of these homes are past fixing up, but that’s because the values nearby have fallen so much. Thankfully, in South Park the historic ordinances stopped a lot of the demo, and kept the shells alive. That can’t be said for the rest of the city.

There is also big money in demolition. Maybe it’s why Rhine and Nan have $15,500 in their campaign funds from a demolition company. Doesn’t make it right.

There are some things we could do to soften the impact. A local company, Kent Development has started a new business- Architectural Reclamation Company. They salvage lumber, trim, floors, fixtures anything that can be used again. We could grow a business model from this- and eliminate so much going to a landfill- if we had leaders with more vision.

Today’s DDN article ends with a zinger:

The city of Dayton demolished 300 structures in 2008, and an additional 110 so far this year. Now, using $900,000 in Federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds and just more than $211,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding, the Dayton City Commission has awarded five contracts for both commercial and residential demolition.

The contracts included: $615,400 to Dayton-based, Steve R. Rauch, Inc.; two contracts totalling $286,500 to Cincinnati-based, A.R. Environmental, Inc.; and two worth a total of $211,100 to Dayton-based, Bladecutters, Inc….

Overall, there are about 3,000 vacant structures in Dayton. Of those 1,000 are on the nuisance list. Since 2000, the number of vacant structures in Dayton has been reduced by about 1,000…

The former Rockwell’s restaurant on Emmet Street may also come down this year, he added.

via 400 ‘nuisance’ buildings slated for demolition by end of year.

Rockwell’s, the former Blue Dog Cafe, previously known as 4 Riverplace- has been rebuilt and retrofitted at least 3 times in the last 20 years. Yet, it too, is facing the wrecking ball.

How much do we remove before there isn’t enough left to call ourselves a city?

And how far would the millions for demolitions go- if we instead worked on stabilizing and holding some of these- if we used the cannibalized materials plus prison labor (not necessarily to work in the fields- but to clean and prep salvaged material for reuse)?

With each demolition, we also lose taxable real estate. Even if the owners are taxed at the lot rate, keeping the structure up, we may end up ahead in the long run if we can one day be rediscovered by people from Manhattan as global warming raises water levels and turns NYC into the new Venice :)

If we had a growing population, these properties would have hope. As we tear them down, we’re tearing down our future as well as our past.

Your thoughts?

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