Leaders encourage people to rediscover downtown as pandemic recovery continues

Rediscover Downtown Dayton Action Plan unveiled by public, private stakeholders

Dayton stakeholders unveiled a plan Friday to continue downtown Dayton’s growth as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rediscover Downtown Dayton Action Plan is a collaborative effort between public and private community leaders to identify short-term and long-term recommendations and to set a vision for downtown’s recovering following the pandemic shutdown.

“Coming out of the pandemic, it was clear that strategic actions would need to be taken by stakeholders from across the downtown Dayton landscape to ensure the blueprint for downtown Dayton’s success that began with the launch of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan in 2010 continues well into the future,” said Sandra Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership

A steering committee for the action plan was formed in mid-March and was co-chaired by Dayton Commissioner Chris Shaw and Dan McCabe, CareSource chief of staff and CEO of the CareSource Foundation. The steering committee recruited 100 community volunteers and stakeholders who they felt are committed to downtown’s continued growth and recovery.

From that group, eight subcommittees were formed including:

• Future of Office

• First Floor and Small Business Relief

• Outdoors & Recreation

• Downtown Development

• Arts, Entertainment, Culture & Venues

• Public Realm & Transportation

• Residents

• Marketing

Guiding the blueprint of the plan were 10 key items the co-chairs said were at the top of their minds. A few of those points included capitalizing on federal funding opportunities that will accelerate downtown’s recovery and revitalization, capitalizing on the boost in demand for outdoor spaces and what the future office will be and how downtown can capitalize on hybrid work trends.

Based on the recommendations the subcommittees decided on, a number of “priority projects and initiatives” were developed that are to be implemented over the next year.

Still with a “to-be-determined” launch timeline, a “downtown DORA expansion exploration” initiative was included in the implementations portion of the plan. Though the expansion is very early in its plan development, Shaw said there has been expressed interest from downtown business owners and residents of expanding the DORA district to connect downtown’s assets like Levitt Pavilion, Riverscape MetroPark and more.

According to the plan, within the next six months, the Dayton First Floor Fund program is expected to launch. Lead by the city, the program is a first floor revolving loan fund that Shaw said is intended to “prime” locally-owned first floor businesses to open in commercial corridors. The initiative is intended to increase Dayton’s walkability downtown.

Some short-term action items included in the plan are already underway, including a Rediscover Downtown Dayton marketing initiative of downtown businesses, partners and stakeholders working to rally the core of the city out of the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown.

“This action plan shows that not only our business network, but also the people who live downtown and who come to downtown to enjoy the amenities here, are on board to accelerate downtown’s recovery,” McCabe said. “We are now inviting our entire community to learn about these efforts and to support our downtown community as we work to bring the vision to life.”

The Greater Downtown Dayton Plan leaders were expected to provide an update to the overall plan at the end of 2020. However, the reality of the pandemic shifted their focus on a shorter-term recovery effort.

“While our near-term focus is on the implementation of the Rediscover Downtown Dayton Action Plan, leaders are working toward a longer-term planning process that will begin later this year,” according to a statement in the recovery plan. “This process will work to identify top priorities and strategies for Greater Downtown Dayton for the next ten years.”

As the longer-term planning process gets underway later this year, the plan is to connect the Rediscover Downtown Dayton Action Plan to the new Greater Downtown Dayton Plan.

Business leaders who have started to bring employees back to downtown Dayton work spaces have used some of the tactics recommended by the Downtown Recovery Plan, according to a DDP release.

“Despite all the struggles that have come with the pandemic, progress continues,” Gudorf said. “There is much more work to be done, but the action plan can serve as a guide for how we can shape the future of downtown Dayton.”

Read the complete action plan at downtowndayton.org.



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