The Brain drain.

About 5 years ago Dr. David Ponitz recommended that I read “The Rise of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida- he said as he was reading it, it reminded him of me (the guy is a prince).
Next thing you know, the MVRPC holds a morning meeting bringing Mr. Florida in to speak. The room is full. Every powerbroker in town is there. All of a sudden, everyone is talking about luring the”œcreative class“ and “Tool Town” becomes “Tech town.”
The problem is, even if the “Creative Class” did come to Dayton, they would have a hard time getting the “entrenched class” thinking in creative ways- and allowing things to happen outside the”rules,” many of which are seemingly unwritten.
When I ran for office- one of the things that drove me nuts is the old Morris Furniture building on E. Fifth Street in the Oregon District. You know the one- just to the left of Newcome’s tavern, 3 grand stories, beautiful bay windows- and vacant for the last 30 years. It’s vacant because zoning requires X number of parking spaces within X distance. However, since the building is in a Historic District- and nothing can be torn down, there is no way to add parking- so the building has been zoned into obsolescence.
The Gem of E. Fifth Street So the best building in the Oregon District sits and rots. All because some pencil pushing bureaucrat can’t see that the rules are working against the ideals of the Historic Preservation rules that are there to save the building. My friend Lakeisha Sabol has sold this building several times- only to have each fall through when the permits can’t be had.
So- this brings me to the net result. The “creative class” that everyone wants so bad- gets frustrated- and moves to greener pastures.
I’m sad to say that one of my best friends and clients is on his way to new opportunities in Tampa Florida today. If you are looking for the catalyst of the downtown housing renaissance, his name was at the top of the list.
His very first project as a developer was to help put together the deal for the Job center which has been hailed nationally as a model of how to deliver social services. His housing projects included: The St. Clair Lofts, The Ice Avenue Lofts and he was a founding part of the Cannery project. He also took 401 S. Main from eyesore to eye candy.
He would have made a great head for the
Wright Dunbar development organization- but was passed over to give a patronage job to former City Commissioner, Bootsie Neal, who’s claim to fame was driving her city vehicle down to city hall then calling the cops to say she thought there was a bomb in it.
He would have made a great head of economic development as well. But that job remains filled by Norm Essman- who couldn’t sell gas for a dollar a gallon.
So, Dayton loses one of it’s creative class, just one more example of losing the innovators this town was once famous for.
Bill Rain, whose e-mail was always brain@, I’ll miss you.

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2 Responses

  1. mark March 9, 2006 / 6:59 am

    David,
    I’m curious about your friend that left Dayton for Tampa. Was it another Dave that left?? Years ago I was acquaintences with Dave and he was a guy that was as passionate about redeveloping areas as you are. If it was him, the Dayton area has truly lost a great asset.
    Mark.

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  2. David Esrati March 9, 2006 / 9:39 am

    Mark-
    It was Bill Rain who left for Tampa. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

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