Time to fire the “community development” manager

Despite being bombed into the ground during WWII, Berlin today looks much like prewar Berlin.
In London, despite being bombed, landmarks all don’t show the marks of war.

In Dayton, someone makes a permitting mistake, a demolition contractor begins to demolish a building that wasn’t supposed to be torn down- and they let the work continue. HORSESHIT. It’s not up to Steve Rauch, a developer, or Aaron Sorrell the “community development” director- who stopped the demolition of the landmark Cox HQ/ Dayton Daily News building on Monday- to continue. The whole concept of landmarks and the public trust- is that they belong to us- the community- not to private parties or even government officials.

We have to value what we had. Here is what the Dayton Business Journal is reporting about the botched demolition:

The project will continue as scheduled, with the 1922 portion of the building coming down Monday, and developer Steve Papa, an owner with Student Suites, reaffirmed to me in an interview Friday his commitment to the project and to cooperation with the city.

“We’ve never left a city without paying everyone, and we’ve never started a project that we didn’t open, and we’re not going to leave Dayton,” Papa said. “The community cooperation has been really refreshing.”

Steve R. Rauch Inc. is the demolition contractor for the project. The company began tearing down the 1922 portion of the historic building on Monday, and was ordered to stop work because the city believed the 1922 portion was to be saved. But Scott Wells, a project manager with Rauch, said the only portion of the building that was ever supposed to be saved was the 1908 portion.

“It’s all been mostly political,” Wells said. “It was supposed to come down from the beginning,” Papa said even though there was a misunderstanding between the city and the developer, the city has been an excellent partner in the project.

Sorrell said the demolition process uncovered a flaw in the city’s permitting process, which sent mixed messages to the contractors. The city’s Landmarks Commission had intended the 1922 facade to be kept in the redevelopment, but that message was never included in the demolition permit, so the developer moved forward with demolition.“We now see where we missed that in our systems,” Sorrell said. “Unfortunately it was this building that uncovered it. We will fix that and move forward.”

via Downtown demolition to continue Monday to make way for student housing – Dayton Business Journal.

When I put up the wrong kind of garage doors in an unmarked historic district, I was forced to change them. And do community service.

Sorrell was the one who negotiated the contract, he’s the one who stopped the criminal activity as it happened, and now, he’s claiming- oh, well, it’s a learning experience. No, double no, and HELL NO. We don’t need clowns like this, who shirk their responsibility- and allow criminal damaging to our landmarks.

It’s bad enough that they allowed the implosion of the Schwind Building before the deed was cleared and the contract signed. That should be grounds for firing as well. There was nothing wrong with the Schwind that the million dollars paid to blow it up – couldn’t have fixed and made the building usable. Of course, the former owners were both local people who didn’t pay off politicians or work to do the work of Sinclair- the community college Montgomery subsidizes to expand into Warren and Greene counties.

If Berlin could be rebuilt, the back of the Cox building can be. If it wasn’t supposed to come down, demolition shouldn’t continue. End of story.

It’s time that we had real accountability in this town- instead of doing whatever the big political donors want.

I’m hoping Preservation Dayton steps in, or Cox Ohio, to file an injunction and stop further demolition until we can firmly assess the costs of restoring the landmark that was Governor Cox’s legacy- all of it.

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16 Responses

  1. David Esrati November 23, 2013 / 7:22 am

    I hate when most of the comments are on the Facebook version of this post (when I have time- I’m probably going to integrate them)

    But- these I had to include:

    Thomas RuddickYes, the whole set-up stinks of croneyism.
    No, the smashing of the “historic” facade does in fact look like a sad error.

    Let it go. Buildings are not history, if people aren’t flocking to the shrine, no history is lost.

    And the brilliant response:

    Larkin VonaltBuildings are indeed history, and if we lose them, we lose our history. And Thomas, when we lose our history we lose our culture, our civilization, our selves. That particular building was in itself an editorial comment about banking made by James Cox, who was merely the Governor of Ohio, a member of the House of Representatives and the 1920 Democratic Party Candidate for President (His running mate none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.) According to you, the mark he left on our fair city should be bulldozed so some ghastly group of carpetbaggers can erect something that looks like a budget line Holiday Inn. Sorry, but that’s simply unacceptable.

    I’m tempted to start one of those stupid Change.org petitions- or organize a protest Monday morning- or work with people to get an injunction first thing Monday morning. But, I’m seriously burned out from the last 10 months of doing things for this community- and then getting an ass kicking in the election.

    There will never be a second chance to save this piece of history. Who’s in?

  2. bobby November 23, 2013 / 12:05 pm
    Don’t expect Cox Ohio to get involved. They probably don’t want the community to know the generous appraisal on the Ludlow buildings given by Karl Keith’s office when they exited the city core. 
    In 2006, the DDN building was appraised at approximately 2.4 million dollars. Since then, the appraised value listed on the auditors website was reduced in 2007 to $450,000, to less was than $165,000. by 2011.  The recently demolished Schwind building, in comparison,  had been appraised at $338,000, more than twice the price of the Cox building and land.
  3. Dave C. November 23, 2013 / 1:11 pm
    For years, the government and administration of City of Dayton has  been an interesting blend of incompetence, corruption, and negligence .
  4. Bruce Kettelle November 23, 2013 / 1:11 pm
    As Chuck Marohn recently pointed out during a recent workshop in Piqua we are tearing down identifiable solid buildings to replace them with new construction with a life cycle of 15 years. The treatment of this facade issue as “a mistake that won’t happen again” seems a little far sighted losing focus on the issue at hand. 
    Check out Marohn’s blog for lots of examples of what works and what doesn’t. http://www.strongtowns.org/
  5. Diane November 23, 2013 / 8:43 pm
    Hey, let’s look on the bright side.
    They may be tearing down one of Dayton’s most beloved historic buildings, but at least they’re giving you blue snow!
    (It could be yellow.)
  6. Dave C. November 23, 2013 / 9:40 pm
    What’s black and white and sleeps 4?
    A City of Dayton  public works truck!
  7. truddick November 23, 2013 / 10:33 pm
    Well, since we’re lifting comments I guess I’ll have to cross-post.

    Look, the sentiment about “historic” buildings is just that–sentiment.  It’s a matter of taste in architecture.  History–the academic study of past trends and cultural forces–does not depend on buildings.

    If you want a particular piece of architecture to survive because you like it–fine, buy it and maintain it and pay property taxes.  If you can’t afford to do so, then console yourself that you followed your personal bliss in your career instead of devoting yourself to becoming as rich as George Soros.  Please do not demean me if I fail to share your sense of urgency regarding vacant, and oft derelict, buildings.  If I had cash to preserve architecture, I’d send it to Athens for the Parthenon, the Cox building would not even be on my radar.

  8. David Esrati November 24, 2013 / 8:20 am

    I am not a believer in Change.org petitions- but I started one to try to save the facade:


    I’m not the only one trying to save a facade- check out Liverpool:


    In light of the other article in today’s DDN about high vacancy rates downtown and David MacDonald’s dream to tear everything empty down- this becomes even more important.

    If we want Austin Landing or Pentagon Parkway to be our Downtown- fine, but, leave what we have for people of the future with vision – to have something to work with.

  9. Nka November 24, 2013 / 9:58 am
    David. I read today’s DDN article too.   AJ, whom you supported, called Dayton a “dying city” and called for demolition of 1 million sq ft of downtown office space. 
  10. Dave C. November 24, 2013 / 10:14 am
    I feel there are some properties downtown (and throughout Dayton) that need to be torn down. Office space, manufacturing, warehouse, residential…there are numerous examples in each of these categories that need to go.
    But it’s important to do this thoughtfully. Undoing building demolition isn’t an option. Perhaps a grading system for each abandoned structure, taking into account things like condition, cost to repair, architectural value and interest, potential for future occupancy, etc. When in doubt, the building is saved. 
    It is time, however for SELECTIVE demolition in Dayton.
  11. Nka November 24, 2013 / 10:33 am
    Dave C:  Saved by whom?  Who has the unlimited funds to save all of the vacant buildings in this town?  And who gets to pick and choose which ones should stand?  I don’t think anyone is happy about the unfortunate incident with the old DDN building. No one person and no process is without potential error. The DDN building had the old presses in it. The removal of just the presses would have been an enormous cost for a private developer. I applaud the City and Sinclair for taking on the property and trying to preserve the historical elements. Conspiracy theories and public flogging of people involved in the efforts only serve to further divide the community. 
    What good does a crumbling, albeit, beautiful building do for Dayton’s renaissance?  We need to focus on attainable goals. 
  12. Dave C. November 24, 2013 / 10:46 am
    @nka: I think we’re saying the same thing in different ways. As far as I’m concerned, if there is no way to pay for renovation and the ongoing upkeep, the building flunks the test and is razed. It’s better to do it in a few days with machinery, than to let the elements and entropy drag it out for decades.
  13. David Esrati November 24, 2013 / 12:15 pm

    @NKA- I don’t have to agree with everything a candidate says to prefer one over the other. I have to be able to at least have an intelligent conversation with them though. And- as far as I know- the old presses were removed long ago- or if not- had value as scrap metal way in excess of the cost of taking them out.

    This could have easily been saved- if Rauch hadn’t started to demolish it- and even now- it could be.

    I’d give anything to have the buildings we tore down compared to the crap that we’ve built since- look at Austin Landing- barf.

    The old 3rd National bank building- now called the Paru Tower- the owner of the Kettering Tower wanted it- but, not after the Indian guy shut off the heat- froze and burst the pipes- and then left it to mold. Plus- he wanted millions-

    Developers would step up- but, often times- the idea of working with the city- or paying the taxes that seem random- scares people away.

  14. Lynn November 27, 2013 / 6:57 pm
    I don’t think pinning Aaron on him would be fair when there is a whole staff of building/housing inspectors that are paid with tax dollars to inspect buildings in the city.  isn’t  this staff paid to inspect and enforce the city “ordinances?”  isn’t there an inspector Weinkauf that know the historic code and could’ve spotted this?  Why isn’t Michael Cromartie speaking up on how incompetent and outdated his department truly is.  City hall is not accountable and filled with cronies.

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