What would $600 million do in Dayton now?

Imagine if you could wave a wand and travel back to the year 2000- and have $600 million of public money to invest- in the things public money was supposed to be used for? Or, even give it back to the taxpayers?

A Dayton Daily News investigation found more than $1.5 billion in public and private money since 2000 has been spent on development in and on the fringes of downtown.

Roughly 60 percent of that investment has come from the private sector.

via Dayton sees most downtown projects in nearly 50 years.

Suppose we had spent it on several large parking garages downtown- with subsidized parking for downtown office workers- no more than $40 a month per car, a huge recreation center on the Parkside homes location- open to all city residents and workers – including an Olympic pool, ice rinks, a velo-drome and indoor soccer and football fields.

How about if we offered subsidized, high quality day-care for Dayton workers- round the clock- so we could be filling up the inexpensive office spaces downtown with call centers?

What if we’d spent it on making public transit free- to make Dayton a low-cost, livable, walkable community? Added a bike share system? Opened up foreclosed properties headed for demolition to urban pioneers with squatters’ rights? Even providing a small scale micro-loan program for repairs?

Suppose we had gotten out of the corporate welfare business- and hadn’t spent millions moving Reynolds and Reynolds and their spin-offs around, subsidizing CareSource’s new office building, created Tech Town in some of the low-cost office space we already had- and not “invested” in UltraCell?

How about if we’d not wasted time fighting the residency rule, or maintained our rules about forcing all police and fire to go through our own training programs- and used standardized programs that are certified across the state- and allowed lateral hires from other departments?

Well- all of that might have happened had we not kept electing the same people who have brought us the corrupt “Monarchy of Montgomery County” and the Dayton Daily News crapfest that passes for “news” daily.

$600 million could have changed our community dramatically- instead, it was squandered on “me too” projects- that now, look like money pissed away, as our population continues to shrink and our tax base gets even smaller.


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8 Responses

  1. DogWalkBlog August 19, 2010 / 8:31 am
    Or spent it subsidizing a real grocery store downtown. Few things attract residents to a downtown area like a grocery store. Attract residents, attract business to service them and all sort of other good things start to happen.
  2. Jeff of Dayton August 19, 2010 / 7:10 pm
    I’d tear down those vacant skyscapers.   Buidlings to be demo’d :  111, Centre City, Fidelity, the old Keybank Bldg, the Arcade, and a few lower buildings (like most of the stuff along 3rd & Jefferson).   Plant trees and lawns in the spaces left, like the old Patterson School site (but better landscaping).  Or you could plant corn and soybean and sell the stuff to the Cargill plant on Wagner Ford.

    Transform  downtown Dayton into a cleaner, greener more open place, sort of like Fort Wayne did with their downtown.

  3. jstults August 19, 2010 / 7:17 pm
    Jeff of Dayton:

    …tear down…the old Keybank Bldg…

    Oh, not that one!  It’s got a new owner, he’s probably going to be good for some entertainment value at least.  All hail Swami Doctor Commander! I, for one, welcome our new Cult of Personality Overlords…

  4. Jeff of Dayton August 19, 2010 / 7:26 pm
    Kahili !!!!
  5. Greg Hunter August 19, 2010 / 7:57 pm
    Jeff you have it right….they are more valuable as Chinese Scrap as the Great Ones of Dayton Sprawled all over themselves, but hey they got their money!
  6. Jeff Dziwulski August 20, 2010 / 10:17 am
    The DDN article was misleading.  They make the numbers look better than they really are by redefining the geogrpahy.

    If one considers the central business district, or CBD (what is traditionally considered “downtown”) there was minimal private investment.   The exceptions to this were:

    1. Caresource

    2. Performance Place (the privately funded part of the Shuster Center)

    3. The various loft conversions and, more recently, the Lighthouse. 

    Performance Place and the loft conversions were really carry-overs of activity going on in the 1990s, so the only really new private-sector investments  (from the 2000s) in the CBD were Caresource and the Lighthouse.

    On the bright side I think there was an article somewhere that reported the downtown office vacancy rate is stabilizing (around 25% to 30%?)  so maybe the bottom has been reached.

  7. Civil Servants Are People, Too August 22, 2010 / 2:16 am
    Okay, let’s check out this laundry list of ideas….
    1) parking garages, check – new facilities on Main Street (CareSource and Riebold) and Ludlow (Schuster), and going back a little further, on Patterson (Dragons).
    2) Rec Center, check – two renovated and one more under construction.   Could they have been one mega center?  Perhaps, but the neighborhoods probably don’t want that.   No support for that idea.
    3) Day care, check – The State/County subsidizes day care for low-income workers already, and so do the Feds with a tax credit.   Beyond that, you’re talking about operating costs or a new line of business for the city –  in other words either by providing the service and competing with the private sector OR by giving grants directly to businesses, which you oppose.    So how would this actually work?
    4) Transit, check –  While it’s not free, its pretty cheap and probably costs less than a monthly pass in a parking garage, especially compared to other cities.    RTA is regionally funded by local taxes and the Feds.   So again you’re talking about the City subsiding their operating costs (essentially a gift to the poor) or raising the sales tax to pay for it.    Why not make it part of a SID instead of putting it on City Hall?
    5)  Bike share, check – The new hub has bikes for rent.    Again, involving your City Hall means either subsidizing that service or creating a new competing service.    Why not ask the private sector to step up on this one?    Where are the bike advocates who want to volunteer for it?
    6)   Foreclosure, check – There are tons of resources going into this.   If you can’t afford to buy a tax foreclosure for a couple hundred bucks, you probably can’t afford a rehab project if you get the house for free.  DMHA offers subsidized housing already.    Personally, I would not want to encourage squatters in my neighborhood.     The public outcry would be enormous.
    7)  Residency, toss-up.      Ultimately a losing battle, but there were strong reasons to put up a fight.    Besides the exodus of city workers (slowed luckily by the recession), this was a challenge to the concept of “Home Rule” that threatened cities across Ohio, whether they had residency or not.    Most local governments opposed it on that principle alone.
    8)  So-called Corporate welfare?   Show me the city that needs FEWER ways to help small businesses and we wouldn’t be in Ohio.     It may not be ideal or even successful in every case, but these programs work in measurable ways.  NO city will give them up until the playing field changes on a national level.  This is the wrong fight to pick.
    So to sum, pretty much everything is already happening AND they doubled they money in terms of private investment.   Not bad, if you ask me.
    Now, how does this post fit the new tagline?   If you’re not here to make it better…..
  8. David Esrati August 22, 2010 / 8:07 am

    @CSAPT I always love your defense of the inept.
    1) all those parking facilities involved some public money- yet have sky high rates unless you work for those businesses. There is still no unified parking signage or rate structure like Columbus and Cincinnati did years ago. And- you left off the Arcade tower garage (which was too small). The only place we still need one is at the corner of Third and Jefferson- where there is a surface lot- to support PNC and the old Key Bank Building-  but- then again- we have Commander Selwan to save us. I don’t believe there is a shortage of parking- I just think that the system is missing to make it easy to understand rates- and locations.
    2) Rec Centers- the original plan was to build 6- we ended up with 2- and the Kroc center (we got lucky).  Only the Kroc has high visibility and a central location. It’s not really there for downtown office workers- or knowledge workers- or the “creative class”- no one openly discussed the single site investment plan- we could have had more bang for the buck.
    3) if we do have subsidized high quality day care- it’s new to me. Why don’t you work on the PR for that. The only high quality day care programs I’ve heard about in the city are the UD and MVH programs that are busting at the seams.
    4) Downtown Portland has free transit in the core area- has for years. We pay for it- we want to encourage ridership- it’s supposed to be good for us- why not change the pay structure. RTA at one point turned down ad money to go on the outside of buses- go figure.
    5) Bike share- with many rental locations is part of the downtown plan- it has the support of some top people. Finding the private sector backer is in the works. What you describe isn’t even close to what we are talking about.
    6) I don’t think you understand what starts to happen to a house the moment the people move out. It’s called entropy- and the results are rarely reversible. We’re losing density and the urban fabric- and we have a population drain- we need to reverse all, quickly- some people are better than no people- but, we haven’t figured that out yet.
    7) residency- you lost. Home rule- good luck with that. The only growth has been in unincorporated areas or in income tax free zones. Look and learn.
    8) It always sounds crazy to be the leader- but, if you don’t differentiate- you’re screwed. If we stopped this BS- and regionalized government- every single indicator says we’ll be better off. We have no leaders here- we’re sheep.

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