I want to make money- taxpayers should help pay: Sprawl at the Dille estate

Because a developer wants to build something, does that automatically mean you should pay for it with your tax dollars? George Oberer Jr. has a dream- but he wants the taxpayers to pay for a large part of it:

Wilmington Pike could expand to up to 10 lanes and the bridge at Interstate 675 above the busy street could undergo reconstruction if preliminary plans from Cornerstone Development Inc. advance to the construction phase.

The street expansion would accommodate Cornerstone of Centerville, a 225-acre mixed-use development, which is planned for property formerly owned by the Dille family…

Centerville City Manager Greg Horn said city officials believe the developer’s plan for 10 lanes may be ambitious.

“Long term, we agree there will be interchange improvements as Miami Valley Hospital South (and other local businesses) continue to grow out,” Horn said. “We think there are errors in their (projected traffic) numbers, and we as a staff will continue to work with them.”

George Oberer Jr. of Cornerstone Development said the village center would be a cluster of restaurants, entertainment establishments and boutiques within the complex.

“(The village center) certainly is nothing to compete with The Greene, just a little village of shops,” Oberer said.

Cornerstone Development is in the process of conducting a traffic impact study; the city is conducting an independent review of that study.

The city and developer are hammering out details in preparation for a public presentation Aug. 15 at the Centerville City Council meeting.

Some of the proposed elements include:

  • Expanding Wilmington up to 10 lanes between Whipp Road and I-675.
  • Reconstructing the bridge at Wilmington and I-675 to accommodate those lanes.
  • Widening Feedwire Road.
  • Preserving the north parcel’s perimeter of trees, which City Planner Steve Feverston called an “iconic portion of the site,” and/or various stands of trees throughout the project.
  • Adding two new traffic signals; one on Wilmington and one on Feedwire.
  • Constructing medians on Wilmington and Feedwire, both as a safety measure and to align them aesthetically with the city’s boulevard look.
  • Expanding Clyo Road to five lanes where it borders the south parcel.

via Centerville development could lead to major street expansion.

Without having to prove to the public that this complex is needed (we have 30+% retail space vacancy rate in the Dayton Metropolitan area)- the developer is forcing roadway improvements that you and I have to pay for – and continue to pay for for years. Whom does this benefit?

Let’s create an example: If my neighbor wants to upgrade his home- I’m happy. If my neighbor only will upgrade his home if I agree to upgrade mine, and all my neighbors to upgrade theirs, I don’t think it will fly. Why do developers get to have this kind of sway with politicians- because politicians aren’t spending their money- they are spending ours (and we see how that works out). Also, since politicians depend on donations for their re-election campaigns- they get mighty friendly. Local records aren’t recorded in a unified data base like national donations, but if you want to see what kind of money the Oberer family “invests” in politicians, take a look here at OpenSecrets (the FEC database isn’t connecting right now) http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=oberer&state=OH&zip=&employ=&cand=&all=Y&sort=N&capcode=cp5rc&submit=Submit

So if you are wondering why Oberer is able to ask for the taxpayers to prop us his “development” with millions of your dollars- you quickly realize it’s just payback for his investment in politicians.

It’s time to end this pay-to-play system of “economic development” – we need to fund elections out of taxpayer dollars to stop this kind of influence peddling and payback.

We don’t need wider roads, more roads or more retail space- even if it will create construction jobs for a few years. After this boondoggle is built- we’ll see more vacancies at the Mall at Fairfield Commons and the Dayton Mall, then we will see those businesses ask for tax breaks- and the cycle continues.

Economic development isn’t created by construction- investment follows quality of life. Good schools, safe neighborhoods, and a level playing field do wonders to lure people to invest. Adding taxes to support political supporters is a losing strategy. We should know, we’ve been doing it for years in Dayton.

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9 Responses

  1. Bubba Jones July 18, 2011 / 12:15 pm
    I don’t know if there’s an easy way to find out how much Oberer has donated to the campaign coffers of the members of the Centerville City Council, but it would be interesting to find out.  David – why don’ you do that in your spare time? ;)
     
    But, after having observed and dealt with C’ville Council during the years that I lived in the City, I think that developing this property probably has more to do with their egos than it does with campaign contributions.  This council is made up of very small fish in a small pond that think that they’re in charge of an ocean.  Once the “city leaders” caught wind of the conflict within the Dille family about the disposition of the property, they immediately launched an initiative to annex that property into Centerville.  They’re justification for this action was that Centerville had better resources and experience to “properly develop” the property than did Sugarcreek Township.  Of course, Centerville is not entirely to blame for that – they couldn’t have annexed the property without the blessing of the people that controlled the property.
     
    Since the annexing took place, Centerville also acquired property on the other side of Feedwire road and subsequently extended Clyo Road into what used to be Possum Run Road. So, if you’re traveling East on Clyo, when you cross Wilmington Pike, you enter into Sugarcreek Twp.  Then you go back into Centerville, then back into Sugarcreek, back into Centerville and finally you’re back in Sugarcreek. 
     
    There was a story in the DDN about this development 3 or 4 weeks ago.  I seem to remember one of the Centerville people saying that they had more land to develop on the Dille property than the Mall at Fairfield Commons sat on and they were excited about the retail possibilities of such a property.  Of course there was no mention that this development would bring 3 major malls within a 5 exit area of I-675.  Yup, we need that!!
     
    The initial use for the property was supposed to be an office park / light industrial park area.  Although I hate to see that beautiful property turned into an office park (there’s an old orchard and a neat looking stone house on the very wooded property), that certainly would have made more sense than adding more retail into an area that’s already saturated with retail.  But, the change in direction brings us back full circle to the egos of the people that are apparently working with Oberer to do this project.  
     
    This is the kind of crap that has kept me from wanting to move back into the City of Centerville.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Mark Wasson July 20, 2011 / 1:31 am
    Back in 1976 my folks bought an established A&W drive-in in Oelwein, Iowa.  Oelwein, like a lot of rural towns, had peaked and was early in its slow fade, and the place never made much money.  Over the 9 years they owned it, the local Chamber of Commerce made a big fuss over each new restaurant opening, getting all excited over each new addition to Oelwein’s dining choices.  Over time my folks became less than thrilled with the Chamber of Commerce, which did little to promote the existing businesses.

    The thing was, with a declining population, Oelwein really couldn’t afford to support more restaurants.  If the new restaurant caught on, another went out of business.  By the time my folks left, Oelwein actually had fewer restaurants even though there had been at least a dozen new restaurants open during those years.  What had been their restaurant managed to stick it out until about a decade ago.  Now it’s one of three dead restaurants for sale that people pass when they come to Oelwein from the south.  A few others have been repurposed or torn down.

    I moved away from the Dayton area almost a decade ago, but get back there a few times a year.  A lot of new stuff has popped up since then, but it seems like even more spaces have emptied out and For Lease signs appear everywhere. 
    I suppose that the city council doesn’t owe the folks who’ve already bought homes and developed retail and office space anything.  Hopefully the people and businesses of Centerville will make it clear to their government they they don’t own the developer road expansion to support the developer’s business to their detriment.

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  3. David Esrati July 20, 2011 / 7:07 am

    @Mark Wasson- thank you for sharing the story of your parents. The same thing goes through the minds of every business when they see the government giving away tax credits or grants to their competition- “will I survive”- will the unfair advantage given my competition kill me? I admit- I went to Sa Bai on Monday night- and felt guilty for not going to Thai 9 – who didn’t get a rent subsidy.

    It used to be that to get a road built- you had to prove that there was a public need- now, it’s justified by “creating jobs” even if it’s just the jobs to build the road.

    Since we have a glut of housing- and of retail space, as part of any development, we should think about requiring the purchase and demolition of vacant space or housing before you can build new. I know this pushes the value of junk up- but, it also stops the mad addition of unneeded space.

     

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  4. David Lauri July 20, 2011 / 12:23 pm
    I went with a friend to Sa Bai last week for lunch and was underwhelmed.  Thai 9 is a much better value, has a much nicer atmosphere and better service, and has little to fear from Sa Bai.

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  5. Steve July 21, 2011 / 4:08 pm
    If you want to see what 3 malls in a 5 exit stretch of a highway looks like, you only have to go to I-275 and see the dead Cincinnati Mall (formerly Cincinnati Mills /Forest Fair Mall). Interestingly, the one of the three that’s dead was the last one to arrive.

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  6. bobby July 22, 2011 / 5:44 pm
    David, The following is a chronology you should be aware of:

          DDN Feb. 18, 2009 ‘Centerville gets Dille Land but No Property Taxes’  “Centerville, Bear Creek Capital and the Dille Family Trust had planned a ‘cornerstone’ complex for the property at Wilminton and Feedwire Road….Centerville and Bear Creek signed a pre-annexation agreement that called on Centerville to use tax increment financing for the project.”

          DDN March 30,2009 S.Elliot editorial  “Centerville says development of the Dille land cannot be effectively executed without TIF funding.”

          DDN July 7, 2010 ‘1.775M Paid to End Foreclosure Action On Dille Proprety’   “…Oberer closed last week on the purchase of the 225 acre section of the Dille farm annexed by Centerville in 2009….Cornerstone Development- a partnership between Oberer and the dilleFamily Trust and Dille Laboratories Inc. 

       Whether or not this land merrits a TIF was decided long before the current developer was involved  this project. The City of Centerville made this decison without the implied influence peddling you attribute to Mr. Oberer.  

        

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  7. J Dziwulski July 23, 2011 / 6:50 am
    Good to hear they want to save that grove along Wilmington Pike.  Those woods are sort of local landmark and in a way act as a psychologcial boundry between Kettering and the sprawlicious interchange development / Bellbrook area.

    Too bad about that old stone house though.  Its called the Dille property but it was built by one of the Pattersons (related to the famous NCR Patterson) as one of the country estates south of Dayton during the “Great Gatsby” era of 1920s.  More famous ones were Normandy Farm (Centerville) and Polen Farm (Kettering). There where others.

    @@@@

    As to why is Centerville doing this, IMO its about tax money.  Centerville can’t afford the level of services they provide without either cutting back or raising taxes so they try to expand revenue other ways.  At first they tried to force a merger with Washington Township to generate more city income tax.  Now they are inducing sprawl with this new development that will generate more taxes.  It’s just a way to increase property tax and city income tax revenue for them.  

    I figure all the suburbs here are like this. Grow or die, or Grow or cut back/raise taxes.  So the imperative is to “grow”, even if it doesnt make sense from a big picture POV.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. ScottP July 23, 2011 / 11:07 am
    I hope they keep the group of trees along Wilmington at least…..I’m sure the neighbors acorss the street would appreciate it and it looks nicer than seeing office/retail.  At least they plan to keep SOMETHING remaining of the old Dille estate.  I put together some pictures of the farm……..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTa41wfmI20

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