The video rocked. The presenters- not so much.
I started a round of applause when Gene Krebs of Greater Ohio in his intro said “We don’t have too much economic development. We have too much economic development bureaucracy” – to a room filled with “economic development” types. The room was literally- standing room only- and the spread looked delicious, but for an hour, as local comedian Sherif Hedayet tweeted: “Attn Downtown Dayton Plan could we have someone under 60 talk about change. I have yet to hear anything interesting. Kayaking really…” For a group that’s looking to attract young professionals, the language of the young professional- or the freshness that comes with youth- was missing- except in the video. 19 May update: NOTE: The Plan now has it’s own website: http://www.downtown-dayton.com/plan/
Even the presentation printouts- which were attached to the windows- were type heavy, and missing “action verbs.” The plan is still going to be carried out by yet another “Community council” – because we’re afraid to put someone in charge and hold their feet to the fire. The obvious choice for this is Sandy Gudorf, the head of the Downtown Dayton Partnership– but, since we’ve finally expanded our definition of “Downtown” to include more than what’s North of the railroad tracks and South of the River- her area of responsibility doesn’t cover it all.
The only concrete “we’re doing this” things that I came out with is- five new gateways, and an experiment with “end in parking” by the Cannery. Never mind that every mall would be empty too if everyone had to parallel park.
It was great to hear Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan mention the HUBzone status of Downtown being an incentive for gaining government contracts- but, the utilization of that preferred status (which I’ve talked about forever here) isn’t enough to fill buildings (you have to have 35% of your employees live in the zone- as well as be located in the zone). Riordan also mentioned student housing- which makes me wonder if we may finally see a relaxation on Single Room Occupancy regs (another theme from this site).
The upside of the whole shooting match- is that the discussion is front and center- and we at least have a great video to show, which makes the city look hip.
I’ve been trying to find time to write a post about Urban Nights- so I’ll mention it here- over in Wright Dunbar- which NEVER has any people walking around most days, the closed off street with bands and booze being sold in multiple locations, was jumping. We can bring people downtown- if we’d stop making it so hard to have fun. Permits and codes and parking restrictions are all hassle and no happiness for new businesses to navigate. How much different things could be if we just tossed the old rule books out the windows and went wild west open space.
Riordan did talk about 1 price rents- including parking costs- to try to price competitively with suburban space, but this is just the tip of the problems.
For all the talk about luring the creative young entrepreneurs- there were only a handful of people tweeting- the rest of the people in the room- just don’t seem plugged in. There should always be a back channel going in events like this- and there should always be invitations for questions, but, then again, we still can’t get right down to the main problems that Gene Krebs opened up with: We’re saddling tax payers with paying for way too much bureaucratic overhead in Ohio. We need to jettison a ton of bureaucratic baggage if we want this plan to be able to get off the ground.
Now, please return your tray table and seat back to the full upright and locked position, and prepare for….