I often hear about the inferiority complex that we have here in Dayton. Of all the places I’ve lived in, Dayton’s complex is certainly one of the most noticable – but I’ve never lived in or been to a city that DID NOT have an inferiority complex. I suppose it is human nature to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. Here are some cities I’ve lived in and their inferiority complexes:
This past Thursday night we held the Get Urban Miami Valley event that we’ve been promoting here for the past couple months and it was a huge success! We had over 200 people register and a total of around 230 in attendance. The room at the Webster Street Market (a perfect venue for this sort of thing) was buzzing with many current urbanites and urban-curious folks who were there to hear more about why anybody would actually CHOOSE to live in the City of Dayton over the burbs. Our featured speaker Kyle Ezell gave a great presentation on what it means to "get urban" and he gave most of us a lot to think about in terms of changing a culture that for decades has valued suburb and exurb living over an urban existence.
This story began with an article in the DBJ in which Thompson Hine – Dayton’s largest law firm – was thinking about possibly relocating to Ballpark Village if in fact that development were to come to fruition. Well, it didn’t take long for them to go from thinking about it to actually signing a letter of intent…
Dayton Daily News
Link: Law firm signs letter of intent for space at Ballpark Village
Law firm Thompson Hine has signed a letter of intent to lease office space at Ballpark Village.
The firm said it is the largest tenant to agree to take office space at the development at Monument Avenue and Riverside Drive.
By March 2009, the 110-employee firm will occupy the entire top floor of a new office building at Ballpark Village. The firm will also occupy part of the floor immediately below, taking a total of 45,489 square feet, the firm said.
This is some bittersweet news (as Phillip over at The Gem City blog says), as it means that Ballpark Village is a step closer to reality, but at the expense of yet another large business moving out of the Mead Tower (now called 10 West 2nd). In fact, that means that Dayton’s second largest building will pretty much go completely dark since MeadWestVaco (the only other large tenant) has already left. (CareSource is taking up several floors on a temporary basis until their new building is finished next year.) That is scary and sad, but it also means that there is opportunity to get new businesses in there. A big issue with 10 West 2nd is the parking garage across Ludlow – which is run down and not very secure. While the city is building a new parking garage on Main it should really look at doing what needs to be done to bring the Ludlow garage back to life.
It is also interesting that the DDN article noted that the new office building for Thompson Hine would be the first to be built in BPV. It sure sounds like there is a lot of news coming out about new developments in the BPV saga as of late – hopefully it is a sign that this pipe dream of a development is actually going to happen.
As expected, the Miami Conservancy District has lifted the tight use restrictions on the land that makes up Deeds Park. It should be noted that the proposed housing development will NOT include or affect the existing park space and bike paths – which are maintained (and owned?) by Five Rivers Metroparks. Only the area across the street where there is currently a big ugly unused parking lot and baseball diamond (that isn’t needed since we have Kettering Fields just next door) will be developed.
It is my opinion that this is a good move as it is redeveloping an area that could and should be prime real estate but is now empty. With Deeds Point (one of the most meticulously landscaped and beautiful vantage points in the region), immediate access to the largest bike trail system in the region, a spectacular river and city skyline view, a potential retail/dining/entertainment district just across the Mad River, and easy access to I75 – this COULD be the most sought-after residential real estate in the region. Not to mention that with another influx of downtown residents brings more probability of downtown amenities like a grocery store.
Dayton Daily News
Link: Board amends Deeds Park development agreement.
The Miami Conservancy District board of directors Thursday announced that they had unanimously agreed to amend a deed to allow riverfront housing on 12 acres of land at Deeds Park.
We’ve recently learned that the Dayton School Board has selected the area on the north banks of the Great Miami
River directly across from RiverScape as the new location for the city’s latest Montessori
school. Though the exact details are not known at this time, it appears that this latest development will allow for the city to acquire the Patterson Career Academy property – the original location that the school board had slated for this new Montessori school and one of the three main properties that must be acquired by the city to make room for Ballpark Village.
It will be interesting to see if this means that the Miami Apartments will be demolished or rehabbed (though it could be a beautiful building, my money is on demolish), and if the rest of that small riverfront neighborhood will be brought back from the dead. There are several dilapidated properties there that should be torn down, yet ironically there is one fairly new and modern house that was designed by Rogero Buckman that sits directly across the street from the former Rockwells. And speaking of Rockwells – what will become of that stunning property? (please not another ill-conceived high-priced steak joint!)
With the acquisition of the Woolpert building having been secured by the city, all that is left is the blessing of the Miami Conservancy District on the development of the Deeds Point area for housing, and to find a new home for Requarth Lumber. And my last conversation with the president of that company leads me to believe that this is all very close to becoming reality.
When we first moved to Ohio in 2001, we chose the Dayton region because my wife had family here – some in Kettering and some in Beavercreek. We knew little about the Dayton region so we relied on advice from family and real estate agents. There were some that said Beavercreek was the best place to be, others claimed Oakwood, and still others said Centerville. Many claimed that Springboro was where we should move to because it was growing like crazy and full of young affluent people. But there was definitely a common bit of neighborhood-searching advice that was given by ALL of our family and Realtors alike – STAY AWAY FROM THE CITY OF DAYTON! We listened to all of this advice and ended up in Washington Township (or as I called it – Centerville, since I still don’t really know the difference). Well, after realizing that suburban living wasn’t for us, we bought our downtown loft condo just 2 years later and we haven’t looked back. Unfortunately, even though we’ve lived downtown for almost 4 years and have somehow managed to avoid all of the muggings, shootings, murders, etc. that supposedly occur downtown on a daily basis (btw, that is all a myth), people still to this day ask us if we’re scared living here. And Realtors seem to still insist on pushing people further south and away from the city.
Date: October 4th, 2007
Place: Webster Street Market (Top of the Market)
This event is for you if you:
… have considered leaving the burbs for a downtown loft condo or a historic district house
… already live in an urban neighborhood and want to meet others that do or are thinking about it
… want to hear about the joys of "living urban!
CLICK HERE to find out more….
Yes, there are MANY things that the City of Dayton needs to work on to attract residents. Problems with crime, public schools, quality of life – these all must be addressed. But since the city is already working on possible two-way street conversions downtown, now is the time to be a leader in one nationwide trend instead of missing another opportunity.
Although Dayton’s suburbs are continuing to grow despite a current national trend of people moving back into cities, Dayton does have a few advantages over the burbs. One of the biggest is the fact that you can get around without the need for a car. No, we are not Manhattan or Chicago, but our city’s downtown was built for pedestrians while the suburbs are built for automobiles. And in a time when $5.00 gasoline is very foreseeable and progressive people are cognizant of the environment and their impact on it – it makes sense for Dayton to capitalize on this advantage and build on it.
In Dayton we already have one of the best bicycle trail systems in the state, and it goes right through downtown. We should be looking at adding bicycle lanes to all of our major streets when converting to two-way – not just one bike lane on one side of the street, but both sides. By doing this, we will see even more bikes in and around downtown than we already do, and we may see more new residents who enjoy the fact that they can bike to work (if not walk). And if the next phase of Riverscape does indeed come to fruition (and I’m told it will), we will see a new bicycle station complete with lockers, showers, bike rentals and bicycle repair services. Imagine if you could get to this bike trail hub from any urban neighborhood in Dayton by using any number of bike lanes that go through downtown… and imagine seeing Dayton as one of the cities with progressive "Complete Streets" programs. Yes, the Wright Brothers (who perfected airplane designs in their bicycle shop) would certainly be proud.
A growing number of states and local governments are rejecting a half-century of transportation practice and demanding that streets accommodate all types of travel, not just automobiles.
The concept of "complete streets"
Just in case you don’t read or hear about this in the local news, here is some good news for Downtown Dayton…
From Dayton Biz Bits
August 2, 2007
Technology Firm to Invest, Add Jobs Downtown
Enterprise Information Management, Inc., (EIM), a Virginia-based provider of information technology solutions, is moving forward with plans to invest $1.25 million and add jobs at its downtown Dayton office, following approval of a development agreement by the Dayton City Commission.
The investment will retain six full-time positions and add 100 jobs with an average salary of more than $55,000 over the next three years. EIM will lease and upgrade up to 10,000 square feet of office space at the Talbott Tower, 131 N. Ludlow St., and purchase new equipment. The City of Dayton is supporting the expansion with a $200,000 grant.
Since its inception in 1996, EIM has delivered complex technology solutions to federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. The company’s services include enterprise transformation, acquisition management and information technology services
Yes, the article said "100 jobs … over the next three years". Kudos to those folks that made this happen – it is a big win for our urban core!
Those of us who live in urban neighborhoods by choice do so because we enjoy the lifestyle. We enjoy the fact that we can walk to many places as opposed to having to drive everywhere. We enjoy the history of the buildings and architecture that surround us. We enjoy the energy and the constant traffic (people and even cars) that goes by just outside our windows. And we enjoy living in diverse communities where we are close friends with many of our neighbors who also share our passion for urban living. Though I understand that urban living is not for everybody, I do think that more people would be open to the idea if they knew what it was like and knew what it was that attracts so many of us to it despite the challenges. Or better yet, if somebody were to somehow teach them how to actually "live urban". Hmm, if only there were somebody we could find that could speak to some of these people…
Well, we may have found that somebody – and we didn’t have to go any further than
Columbus! Kyle Ezell is the founder of Get Urban, Ltd. and is so passionate about city living that he has written two books on the subject:
Get Urban! The Complete Guide to City Living
Retire Downtown: The Lifestyle Destination for Active Retirees and Empty Nesters.
Kyle is a certified city planner, instructor of downtown housing at Ohio State University, and since 2005 has been a keynote speaker on the topic of urban living in cities all over the country – including San Francisco, Chicago, Columbus and more. He has organized "Ruppie" parties to help attract active suburban empty nesters to downtown neighborhoods (we have several Ruppies here in Downtown Dayton). And he has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Cool Town Studios, Columbus RetroMetro and yes – here on MostMetro.com.
So why am I telling you about Kyle and Get Urban? It could be because he seems to understand the potential we have right here in Dayton ("… When complete, Downtown Dayton could become one of America’s chicest Postindustrial Urbs. Life here, even in the often-bypassed city of Dayton, Ohio, will be hard for any urbanite to resist." – Get Urban! The Complete Guide to City Living). Or maybe somebody is planning a Get Urban event…
Yes, details are coming soon…