Disneyland for shoppers has arrived in Dayton, it’s called The Greene, and it’s a good thing for all the wrong reasons.
It’s good for Dayton because it created the vehicle to bring more shopping choices to our market- and give us amenities that used to be a long car drive away. Instead of having to drive to Easton in Columbus to go to a Cheesecake Factory- we can drive to Beavercreek.
It has pumped money into the local economy from outside- which increases both the flow and the amount of money in the area- which is one of the key factors in true economic development. All good. The same reasoning could be applied to the gambling argument â€“ why allow Ohio dollars to flow to Indiana because they have gambling and we don’t (I just don’t think the answer is to hand the casino licenses over to the racetrack owners).
The Greene will attract shoppers from a wider radius than the Fairfield Commons or the Dayton Mall just because it is new- and doesn’t replicate retailers.
On the other hand, our local economy is in a slump, and without other investment, and the ability to lure jobs, the slices of the shopping pie are getting cut thinner. We are in need of radical new tools to bring investment- and a new shopping environment is not enough. Big picture projects, innovative investment initiatives are needed to get our economic engine back on track.
Some suggestions include: the white water park, a world class sportsplex on the Parksides home site, light and high speed rail, vacant home giveaways, a shared focus and cooperation of all our local government entities etc.
My biggest problem with the Greene is the granting of tax abatements. However I can not fault the local leaders who decided to step on this slippery slope. Either our tax system has to be fair- and equal, or it needs to be abolished and rebuilt. Giving tax breaks to individual businesses needs to be eliminated at the national level. Tax dollars should be used to provide the services deemed necessary for the greater good- and to support the infrastructure that is needed for a free society. That does not include luxury shops and chain restaurants.
The hardest part to swallow- is the new urbanist architecture. Yes, it is the way things should be- but, the question is why couldn’t this happen in the center of town, instead of in a former field of trees?
The answer is bureaucracy and short sighted planners of the past. Our auto centric focus- with our highways, bypasses and high space requirements for parking all the cars has driven dollars away from valuable, economic engine type of development- to accommodating more vehicle storage. One of the reasons for the vitality of Manhattan is that there is no place to expand but up- and if they had to dedicate the 160+ or so square feet per car per person- Manhattan would look like Downtown Dayton.
Because space was so bountiful in our area- the cost to spread so cheap, we did expand, and keep continuing to sprawl- only requiring more roads, more space for cars, and more problems for all to maintain. The cost of ownership of all these roads is much higher than the cost of providing efficient and clean solutions like light rail and even diesel buses (when fully utilized).
Just imagine if instead of continuing our botched planning in Dayton, we had done these things in the last 10 years:
Built the Schuster Center at Fifth and Main where we instead built the Reibold Building parking garage. Built a hockey/basketball/concert hall on Dave Hall Plaza with an outdoor concert facility for the summer music festivals, built the baseball stadium on the corner of Fifth and Wayne- with home plate where the Dublin Pub is, and unleashed the parking requirements and liquor restrictions- as well as eased the building codes on the historic renovations- through the Oregon District.
We could have had the Greene built right along Fifth Street- with parking handled by the Transportation Center Garage and possibly another garage at Fifth and Wayne.
Every day, people would flock to concerts, conventions, ball games (year round), drinking, dining and shopping- all in the core of Downtown Dayton (well 5 blocks South). Fifth Street would be our entertainment and shopping mecca, instead, it will be on a former field, surrounded by garages, waiting for even more development to continue to sprawl.
Oops, we missed again.