We here at Dayton.com always try to share the good news coming out of the Gem City, and encourage positive momentum from new residents, businesses and community. But it’s always nice to have some stats to back up our claims that downtown Dayton is one of the best places to live, work and play.
Tuesday’s annual Downtown Dayton Special Improvements District meeting at the Crowne Plaza was an opportunity for downtown’s stakeholders, investors and champions to gather and view the progress that downtown has made, particularly since the beginning of 2015, and to set sights to the future. In his opening, SID Chair and Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School President/CEO Daniel Meixner said he was “encouraged by the positive momentum” and the new businesses arriving and thriving in the downtown community.
“Let me show you why we have a core stronger today than in any time in recent years,” he said. These are the highlights the SID Group mentioned that we were most excited to see:
- Downtown Dayton Partnership Co-Chair Mike Ervin cited nearly $1 billion in investment since the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan — and that’s not even including investments on I-75 itself. $427.5 million in public and private sectors investments have already helped many projects come to life, and $408.6 million is helping projects currently in the pipeline.
- DDP President Sandy Gudorf showed how investments in downtown have only grown since 2011, with a sharp acceleration between 2014 and 2015 and more expected through at least 2019.
- Investment Highlight: The Ellway Group’s purchase of three buildings in what’s known as the Fire Block District, including the “David” Building at 115 E. Third St., 100 E. Third St. and 124 E. Third St. The Ellway Group’s Elliot Katz said they are hoping for work to begin on these three buildings in early 2016.
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“The swing we’re seeing in cities is (residents) want to walk to the bars, they want to walk to work, and then they want to walk home,” Katz said. “Creating this new residential corridor is very exciting.”
DDP Business Development Director Scott Murphy touched on the biggest business highlights of the past year, and of the past five years:
- Over 30 businesses have opened, signed leases or purchased buildings in downtown Dayton in 2015 to date. These businesses have ranged from restaurants and eateries (Corner Kitchen, Dayton Beer Company, Third Perk Coffehouse) to creative and tech firms (Mitosis, MatchMD) to services and resources (Nucleus CoShare, Kneaded Bodies Massage, Bike Miami Valley) to boutiques (Heart on Fifth, Savvy Couture).
- Employers are moving their firms or reinvesting in downtown: Dinsmore and Shohl LLP consolidated their offices and moves to the Fifth Third Center in downtown Dayton, after an employee poll overwhelming showed interest in living and working downtown.
- The DDP’s free and confidential Site Seeker Program — which helps prospective tenants find downtown space that fits their needs and then connects them with the proper leasing agents, property managers and owners — saw 50 percent more interest in the third quarter of 2015 than it did in all of 2014, with 21 site searches in that quarter alone. For reference, the goal for all of 2015 was to conduct 35 site searches; there have been 68 site searches year-to-date. New downtown businesses Platinum Black Salon and Spa and CFO advisory firm MLA Companies are among those who used the Site Seeker program to find their perfect space.
- And the sorts of businesses looking to move in? Not surprisingly, over a quarter are restaurants and retail, but what might be more interesting is that nearly 30 percent are creative services and tech companies, pushing to invest in downtown Dayton.
- Three downtown buildings are now fully occupied. Ludlow Place, 204 S. Ludlow St., is full for the first time in over 50 years. The Main Street Garage at Main and First streets and the historic Kuhn’s Building, 15 W. Fourth St., are also now full.
- Over 40,000 square feet of first-floor space in downtown Dayton has been filled since 2010, and 56 start-ups have launched businesses on the first floor since 2010. The DDP’s Activated Spaces Pop-Up Program, with help from the young professionals at UpDayton and Generation Dayton, has launched 21 “pop-up” shops since 2010; 16 are still open.
Housing and public resources
- Urban housing is thriving in downtown, with 347 new units completed since the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan, and 607 more units in the pipeline.
- Dayton developer Charlie Simms is fresh off of the news that Simms Development’s Patterson Place has sold out of units, but he’s not losing steam. Construction is underway at the $4.5 million Brownstones at 2nd, whose 24 units are going fast. And Simms just broke ground on their most recent project, 17 four-story condos at the corner of Monument Avenue and Ludlow Street. Monument Walk, as the development will be called, should be ready for move-in by mid-2016.
- Down the street, residents are already moving into the town homes in the new Water Street District. The first phase of construction wrapped up, and more units are on the way in coming months.
The Dayton Metro Library is bringing state-of-the-art facilities to downtown Dayton that will include a black box theater, community rooms, an expanded space and updated technologies, thanks to a $187 million bond issue that was passed overwhelmingly by local voters in 2012. The renovations on the Main Branch on St. Clair Street continue as the Dayton Metro Library expands its reach with new branches in the pipeline for areas including northwest Dayton, Miami Township, Lebanon, and Vandalia.
- Public service workers were hard at work this year, collecting over 103,000 lbs. of trash, removing 435 works of graffiti, and power washing city buildings and structures with over 34,000 gallons of water.
- Ninety five percent of DDP annual business survey employees feel safe in downtown. That’s thanks to a strengthened policing in the Central Business District, upgraded lighting and security cameras, and more coordination between the city, police and business stakeholders.
- Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School has made huge investments in its facilities in recent years, cementing its legacy as a downtown institution since the mid-19th century. Since 2010, the school’s master plan of improvements has led to: the 2010 completion of a student conditioning center with weight room, gym and more; the 2011 completion of the Eagle Tennis Center, the schools first on-campus outdoor venue; the 2013 STEMM Center renovations and Mary Our Lady of Victory Gym; the 2015 renovations of Building One classrooms, music spaces, and cafeteria, adding air conditioning to 60 percent of the facilities and creating a student union-feel in the cafeteria; and the recent announcements of 2016 renovations to the performing arts center and construction of a main stadium complex for soccer, lacrosse, football and more, to be open in Fall 2016.
- Sinclair Community College is making strides with its recently accredited National UAS (unmanned aerial systems, or drones) program, and the creation of its UAS Training and Education Center, dedicated this past August. Improvements to the Health Sciences Center based on a growth of enrollment in health sciences is also in the pipeline, along with the Generation 4 Integrated Student Services that provide students with technology, mentors and advisers and more.
Lifestyle, amenities and events development
All of these investments wouldn’t mean as much if there weren’t incentives outside of the house, work, or school to bring people downtown. The DDP and other stakeholders have been hard at work bringing new events and amenities to downtown that Daytonians have rushed to take advantage of. Some of the biggest include:
- Link: Dayton Bike Share’s launch in 2015. Since the bike share program went live, 24,200 trips have been taken around the area, many probably along the nation’s largest paged and connection bike trail network, the Great Miami Recreation Trail.
- … which is getting a face lift thanks to Dayton artist Amy Deal’s new mural along the north side of the Great Miami River, part of the Riverscape River Run Project that is currently under construction, slated for completion in 2016.
- Public events like Summer in the City, First Friday, and the Square Is Where have drawn massive amounts of foot traffic to downtown: The Square Is Where alone had 107 days of free lunchtime programming on Courthouse Square, and about 15,000 people attended over the season.
Our own Oregon District got a national shout-out recently when Fifth Street was designated one of the top 5 Best Streets in America by the American Planning Association. It’s also now easier to move around and park in the Oregon thanks to the debut of the Oregon District Shuttle in October.
From the numbers and what we can see with our own eyes, downtown Dayton’s been on a roll in the past five years, but certainly in the past year, and is poised to continue that trend into the next few years. So what was that about there being nothing to do in Dayton, again?