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The continuing marginalization of North Dayton

One of the things our data driven, self-organizing, self-filtering, irrational decision making world seems to be bringing is complete and utter polarization. We self-select our friends, our news sources and our environs, first virtually and then in the real world.

“Because most of the people” is the most dangerous rationale for most business decision making, and in our media/money driven elections, the same can be said.

Ohioans voting down a chance for an improved redistricting system a few years ago is case in point.

The move of Hauer Music to the 725 strip is another. I’m sure that someone looked at where a majority of their business came from- and said we’d do better to be closer to them- and thereby just wrote off points North. It’s been happening a lot over the last 30 years- as first the Salem Mall fell, and then one-by-one other big boxes left too.

Yet, we’ve been told for years that the intersection of I75 and I70 is the “Crossroads of America” and that it is an ideal place for distribution. Yet, do you see a megamall anywhere near there? We have vacant space at the NorthWoods exit, we have the strip at Miller Lane which adds nothing original or unique to the community, the Poe Avenue office buildings that are nondescript and seem to be happy with what’s available on Miller Lane. The only thing that’s happened North worth mention from a standard of living aspect, in years is Scene 75 [1]– a family fun center on a massive scale. Other than that one project- what has happened North of Downtown? (Don’t talk about tax subsidized businesses like the CAT distribution hub etc- I’m talking quality of life and amenities).

One oddity- is that all three County Commissioners make their homes North right now. Yet, so much has been poured into Austin Landing it’s almost surprising that the County hasn’t moved its offices there and handed over the tower to Sinclair.

Granted, population density is far higher in the newer southern and eastern suburbs, but North and West seem to be continuing a downward slide in population and amenities. One wonders if the failure to build the Western counterpart to 675 was the beginning of the end, or the fact that 35W was given short shift with all the traffic lights and intersections instead of real exchanges and a true highway.

There are people with money up North- and they deserve opportunities in retail, entertainment, health care, and music stores. The city of Huber Heights seems to be the only community working to establish itself as a contender as the last bastion of a complete full service community, while Vandalia, Englewood, Butler Township, Clayton, Trotwood all seem to be spinning their wheels.

It’s time for the north suburbs to consider consolidating and working together to have a much louder voice in the region and to speak with one voice as a viable community worthy of investment. We’ve already seen that Washington Township and Centerville can’t get their acts together and that both Moraine and Miami Township prefer to be run like a circus sideshow instead of like professional governments. The time is right for the North to start putting some serious points on the board.

I’m not sure that a music venue was the ideal move by Huber Heights- but, it sure is the gutsy one.

I’ve always thought that Chambersburg Rd. as well as access to Huber from Route 4, were all grossly under engineered for access. If Huber is able to upgrade its cross-town roads to equal those that cut through like gashes (Troy and Brandt Pikes) they may be able to better distribute their amenities to other communities. Having an AFB as a margin to your community as well as a super highway make it hard for a true city center system to work. There is also the question of how long the islands of Dayton in the Huber Heights school districts should remain as part of Dayton now that there is no residency rule. Quail Hollow, Forest Ridge etc. should be repatriated to Huber to save Dayton money and give Huber Heights a better chance of winning in the battle of North vs. South.

The last thing that should be encouraged north is more sprawl. It’s important to keep our farmland and green spaces green, but, to do that, we need to take a serious look at what’s happening in the county and evaluate what the future will bring if we don’t have a real plan.

I’m sure many of you have opinions on the shifts over the last 30 years- please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments.

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I love http://www.city-data.com. It’s a great tool for comparing all sorts of demographics among different US locales.  
When you look at Huber Heights (http://www.city-data.com/zips/45424.html) and Centerville (http://www.city-data.com/zips/45459.html), the differences are telling. If I had a choice between moving a business like Hauer Music from Dayton to either Centerville or Huber Heights, it would be a no-brainer: more people, more money, and fewer people living in poverty. I’m not as familiar with Vandalia, Englewood, Butler Township, Clayton, Trotwood , but you can check out those zip codes at your convenience.
2004 AGI Centerville: $66,655 (45459) and $72,118 (45458)
2011 Centerville Population: 27, 103 (45459) and 29, 370 (45458) = 56,473
2011 Centerville Residents Below Poverty Level: 6.6%
*** VS ***
2004 AGI Huber Heights: $42,025 (median $55,929)
2011 Huber Heights Population: 49, 201
2011 Huber Residents Below Poverty Level: 7.4%
Hauer Music sells non-essential products like musical instruments, sheet music, instrument repairs and rentals, musical lessons, etc. Centerville City Schools has a very strong music program starting in 5th grade, and many students rent instruments and take private lessons. McCutcheon Music has enjoyed this market for a long time without much local competition.
I suspect Hauer Music simply saw opportunity in a move south and will be more profitable once they relocate to a community with more discretionary income.
When was the last time they were broken in to or had their building defaced by vandals? That may have been the icing on the cake.
When you are operating a business and wish to remain profitable in the face of changing conditions, you have to be willing to move.


Bingo Diane … How dare you use facts and statistics :) ! 

Dave C.

Diane makes some great points. Discretionary income is a lot higher south of town.
Based on Dave’s invitation at the end of his post, let me toss out a question: Right now, City of Dayton has a population of around 140k and shrinking. What would Dayton be like if this trend continues for a few decades until the center city shrinks to 30k or 40k and the surrounding suburbs stay the same or grow a bit? In other words, what if the ‘burbs become the donut, and Dayton becomes (more or less) the depopulated donut hole?
Could this happen? Dayton has undergone dramatic population loss in recent decades, so it seems possible.
Any thoughts on this scenario? Would this decrease the quality of life in our community, or would it improve things? Would a depopulated center city offer new opportunities, or simply be abandoned? Is a ring of suburbs still a city?
I am not asserting that this will definitely be Dayton’s fate, but I do think it’s a real possibility.


I’m a resident of Vandalia. We prefer our tax base to come from the industrial park and limited retail (although the proliferation of fast food establishments on National Road is maddening…..) we host, rather than from big box retail and shopping centers, which tend to put a lot of wear on our roads and bring a certain amount of crime and other unwanteds. I’m happy with driving to Huber to get my groceries at Meijer (a nice, clean store that the Walmart heathens have not yet sullied), pick up my home improvement supplies at Lowes, satisfy my occasional craft fix at Hobby Lobby, and get my hoard on at Target. Then, I drive home to Vandalia where my most frustrating concern are the idiots going in and out of the poorly-planned McDonalds driveway. When I want more, I go to Fairfield Commons where they have every thing imaginable. Personally, I don’t want or need it in my backyard.


Now take a look at Dayton’s income data (http://www.city-data.com/city/Dayton-Ohio.html):
Estimated median household income in 2011: $25,434 (it was $27,423 in 2000)
Estimated per capita income in 2011: $15,884
Yikes! Makes you wonder why Hauer Music hasn’t moved out sooner.
I suppose one could argue that, if the drug dealers reported their incomes, these figures would be higher (no pun intended).


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
Here’s a map of median incomes in Dayton and the surrounding areas. All of the yellow south of town is where the money is. The darker the pink, the poorer the region. You can zoom in until you’re practically at the city block level. Cool!
Can it be any wonder that Whole Foods, Costco, and now Hauer Music are heading south?

Dave C.

You ROCK, Diane!


I would look at the Hauer move as an opportunity rather than a downfall. There is now a large hole in the market for another independent musical instrument retailer to fill. Just as an FYI, there are independent musical instrument retailers in Fairborn, Troy, Harrison Twp. and Englewood, as well as Belmont and south of town. Hauer was a big name in music in Dayton because of its location and 75 years in the industry. I wish it the best of luck to Hauer in years to come, but I also hope someone else opens a store downtown and captures the market there. It only makes sense, as Hauer is not going to be as competitive for those customers.   And for blight north of town…. Although I am not an advocate of sprawl either, let me remind you that southwest Ohio’s fastest growing community (yes that includes Cincinnati too) is Carriage Trails in Huber Heights. Also there is a lot of “growth” potential along Bellefontaine Rd too. Here’s a recent article about how one subdivision along the road is opening up another 90 acres for development: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local/housing-development-in-huber-heights-plans-more-ph/nbzyJ/ And a recent article on Carriage Trails: http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/housing-development-in-huber-heights-continues-to-/nbcyH/   Additionally, most of the metro area’s recent jobs have been created north of town in logistics, distribution, and manufacturing, including Caterpillar, Collective Brand (Payless Shoes), Prologis / P&G, Abbott Labs, Honda, Trimble, Syncreon, Independent Can, and others (but I think I covered most everything with 100+ new employees in the area). Right now we are doing surprisingly good economically speaking, lots of new jobs are coming into the area. Even more will be coming and continuing to balance the equilibrium if Caresource does expand by another 500 employees and Project Southbound happens (which is another 800 employees?).    The area that really needs reinvestment now (besides downtown, which is necessary to have as a strong core to anchor the region) is the southwest quadrant of town. It is hard to access and has little industry, bad schools, and lots of crime. The northwest may recover if distribution centers actually start opening along the… Read more »

Teri Lussier

Northern Montgomery County is different. Allison is right on- the people who choose to live in northern communities like Vandalia and Clayton tend to prefer smaller, quieter, more rural areas that are not geared toward giant retail the way Centerville is. Huber Heights is the exception to that rule for the I-70 corridor. 

Having said that, I recently took part in the Dayton Region Ambassador program for Realtors and it was that suggested we prepare for a decade of growth all along the I-70 corridor in Montgomery Co. This was also reflected to me just last week by a local developer who reminded me that Carriage Trails isn’t located where it is for no reason. There is movement here but I think it is going to be industrial-oriented. There will not likely be much reason for the folks who live in Centerville to come this way for a Saturday afternoon of shopping and spending, but again, that’s one very big reason why we choose to live here.  


All the more reason for Hauer Music not to have considered going north for their new location. Residents there apparently aren’t interested in additional retail establishments.

Joe P

I grew up in north Dayton and live in Dayton proper now. Driving to Centerville to get a relatives/friends house or for shopping takes a lot longer than it does to get to work in Englewood. Sprawl and over building from the 1970’s to the present. North Dayton had it’s share of track housing and suburban mess (see Huber Heights) I really like that north Dayton is not over built in most areas. And it’s really a lifestyle choice if you want to live on that end of town. Go to Boston’s Bistro and Pub for a beer or the Buckhorn Tavern for a meal!  I guess it’s hard to complain about commute time in Dayton, there are much much worse commutes nearby (Cinci/Columbus/Cleveland). Residents up there are definitely interested in more retail options, but I think know that comes at an expense. (sprawl). I’ve talked to co-workers who own homes in Butler Township who have noticed the massive increase in traffic on Little York Rd and Dixie due to Miller Lane as well as the industrial park off Peters Pike. They told me they specifically moved there to avoid the South Dayton congestion and sprawl lifestyle.
Having grown up and lived in N. Dayton/Montgomery County, the adage I came up with is this: Don’t trust anyone south of 35. :)
p.s. I live in Dayton and am not a drug dealer btw.

Joe P

I do too in South Park. Just something funny to say.


“I suppose one could argue that, if the drug dealers reported their incomes, these figures would be higher (no pun intended).”
Joe P., just something funny to say.

Joe P

Thanks for explaining puns, Diane. Glad we’ve cleared that up and can move on (to Springboro).