Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rashad Young says No

This was not picked up in any of the Dayton blogs, but I think it’s indicative of the problems with city government in Dayton.

Back on Sept 4th the Dayton Daily News ran this article:

Groups aim to attack neighborhood issues
People from three Dayton areas thinking outside the box to get funding, find solutions.

The neighborhoods were Twin Towers, Walnut Hills, and a collection of neighborhoods north of downtown (Grafton Hill, Jane Reece, Dayton View, Riverdale, and Five Oaks).

The most interesting outside the box proposal came from the north-of-downtown neighborhoods. They had proposed a community wide Tax Increment Finance district (TIF) to fund redevelopment projects.

From the article:

"The Renaissance Alliance Housing Group, a collaboration of residents from Grafton Hill, Jane Reece, Historic Dayton View, Riverdale and Five Oaks, is trying to turn back time in its neighborhoods by buying slum properties, demolishing those buildings, then attracting contractors to recreate the Victorian style homes that once graced the area.

Seven years of planning went into the proposal that secured nearly $500,000 in federal grants over two years to launch the project in 2006. The federal grant was supposed to be the seed money for multiple projects."

City manager Rahsad Young's response:

"Creating a mega TIF district, like the one proposed, would pull money from other public entities," Young said. "... this would create fiefdoms in the community as to who has assets and who doesn't....I don't think we ought to create pockets of bureaucracy in parts of the community that dole out money."

Young said he also objects to this TIF district because it would peel back property taxes without specific projects defined beyond the one on Central Avenue.

The neighborhood group replys:

"We have a city in tough economic straits and we want to get around those limitations. The grants gave us a leg up. The TIF would replenish the grant," Barton said. "This project began on Central Avenue. We don't want it to end there. Our proposal for the federal grants included a way to replenish that money using a TIF. The city isn't offering us an alternative."

Funny how it’s the neighborhood group trying to be creative and innovative and it's the city manager that shoots down the idea out of hand, with objections that are flimsy (a defined scope could be arrived at) and hypocritical (considering the Ballpark Village TIF). Better safe than sorry, huh?

Suburban jurisdictions have no qualms using the TIF mechanism, as it’s being used at Austin Road, a project to which Dayton is a partner to (see posts and links below). Aggressive use of TIF in Chicago has transformed belts of abandoned industrial property into shopping centers and housing complexes. Seeing the transformation that TIF has wrought in Chicago is what’s sold me on this financing concept.

What is Tax Increment Financing?

This is a way of using increased tax revenue to pay for development costs of a project. It usually is project specific, which makes the Renaissance Alliance concept so innovative, as it is more neighborhood rather than project based.

An explanatory diagram (mouse over the image and click and it will enlarge so you can read it)

Wikipedia on TIF
(including pro & con commentary: Though effective this mechanism is not without dispute)

Dayton's Stalled Downtown Housing Revival. Why?

The Canal Block

The sign says “Coming 2007”. That leaves 3 months for an announcement of some kind for this property, a corner parcel at Patterson and 1st. This was to be the first phase of a three-block development on three corners of this intersection.

There was an earlier sign here, and some press reports about the development, but not much since.

Another stalled development is The Merc. This was supposed to go under development as loft housing and offices a few years ago, announced maybe in 2005 or 2004. Now the website says 4th quarter of 2008.

Supposedly there is demand for downtown housing. If so, there seems to be issues in getting product to market. This Canal Block site, particularly, should be a straightforward project as there are no major adaptive re-use/historic preservation issues,. As one can see behind the sign the site is a shovel-ready grassy lawn.

What are the reasons these and other properties are not being developed or are delayed?

Why has the loft/downtown housing trend stalled in Dayton?

South Park Jazz

South Park had a nice little jazz fest over on Park Drive this Saturday. The festival was actually fairly well atteneded for a first-time effort, with the bands playing in the gazebo and the audience sitting in the parkway that runs down the middle of Park Drive.
There was also an after-show at the South Park Tavern (the old Pizza Factory, and before that I think Cafe Potage)

The event was intended as a promo for the upcoming Rehabarama, starting next weekend and running for a week. The neighborhood group had a table/tent set up with proposals for the neighborhoood, plus tickets for Rehabarama (I got one, so stay tuned for a Rehabarma blog post in the next few weeks)
(camera shy volunteer lady at the table?)

The venue was great. Sitting on the parkway, surrounded by grand restored houses....

....and listening to jazz:

The MC was Ron Gable, who, along with his wife, maitains the Jazz Advocate website, which looks to be a great introduction to the local jazz scene, and for what's up in Cincinnati with this music. I am not a jazz fan and, frankly, don't know much about it, but I do notice that there are a number of venues in town that play it.

This is somewhat impressive as jazz is not that popular. Yet another example of how Dayton is a good place for listening to a variety of live music.

The Dayton Daily News had a little article on the fest at their website, plus more pix.

Hopefully the South Park folks will have this again next year. Dayton has a dearth of neighborhood festivals, so it's good to see this one start up.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"...We're the Professors, and this is why...."

…and thus began a lesson in rock!

I have to say this is (or was?) one of my favorite bands for the past few years. I found out about these guys quite by accident. When I went to the ballet, symphony, or opera I usually got a cocktail after the show. Usually that meant J-Allens, as it was right across the street from the Shuster, but occasionally I would make it to the Oregon.

One night I stopped in to the Oregon Express (a place I rarely visited then) on a Saturday night after an arts event. It turns out the Professors were playing, and I was really hooked by their sound. Electric rock with good hooks and tunes, played fast, with great vocal delivery by their charismatic frontman. An outstanding performance that had the audience really energized and literally dancing up on the tables. It was like: "Whoa! Who are these guys?"

Finding out more about this band, it seems that they play a mix of covers and original material, and they do the original material so good that you can't tell the difference. The sound seemed a mix of better Animals and Yardbirds, stuff like that 'Dirty Water
" song (not that poppy, though),the Doors, mixed in with other influences. I've seen it described as "proto-punk" or "garage rock". Whatever it was it was pretty darn good.

After that I made a point of trying to catch their gigs. Picked up two of their CDs. But then didn't see much of them. Turns out, based on their myspace page, that they had been working on a new album, writing new material, and going through some personnel changes…..yet no gigs other than a joint bill over at Pearl back in the summer.

(a few pix from their Front Street/Goloka Gallery show last fall, about a year ago now, supporting Sleepybird)

The Professors on Myspace

Dayton Music Fest

For more information go to the Myspace page.

This is, I guess, a local version of things like Midpoint and SXSW. It's said Dayton has a good live music scene. I don't know as I don't have anything to compare it to, other than Sacramento in the mid 1980s. It seems there's more bands here, more people doing live music of various types. Lets just say that on any given Friday or Saturday night you are going to have to make some choices as to where to go and what to listen to.

This festival showcases some of the stalwarts of the local indy scene, and some artists that are new to me. I think at least two of the artists are from out-of-town: Enon (NYC) and Fairmont Girls (Cincnnati?), thought I think Enon has a local connection (hence the name?).

I went last year and it was fun, maybe too much to see. After an evening of going from place to place wound it up seeing a metal band at the Foundry (of all places). Probably the most memorable show of that evening was seeing Dave Doughman of Swearing at Motorists doing an acoustic set at Creative Sound Cafe.

This year, thought, the DCDC Fall Concert conflicts, so maybe some of the later shows after the dance concert.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rhythm in Shoes: A Dayton Must-See

I was vaguely aware of Rhythm in Shoes over the past few years, and did see their “Hoagland” joint venture with DCDC back in 2001 (a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael, one of the more memorable performances I've seen here ).

But it wasn't till I saw an concert by them last year that I really appreciated what these folks are up to. Since I am a trad music fan and also appreciate folk culture this really was up my alley.

RiS takes things we take for granted, things like tap dancing and folk dancing and the type of dance you’d maybe see in vaudeville, and moves them up to the level of contemporary dance, as a mix of contemporary dance and folk/theatrical forms, and even some classical ballet moves. And they have a great string band to provide the music. A very rich mix of the traditional dance and contemporary choreography.

RiS also holds dance classes for the public, and does work with UD students, too. The members of the band apparently sponsor an open mike night over at the Trolley Stop over in the Oregon on Wednesdays for people doing acoustic/trad music. So this organization is not just a performance group but does outreach into the community, contributing to the fairly strong interest in trad music and folkdance (and dance in general) in the Dayton area.

Tonight I saw their Banjo Dance show, which was apparently a full-length production of things they had been working on for a few years now. I recall bits of this from the show I saw last year. I particularly liked their interpretation of aspects of religious life and spiritual music, and also their “Death By Ballad” piece. One of the things about this show is that it is a real mix: music, dance, and spoken word passages.

You can catch Banjo Dance on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, at UD's Boll Theatre

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hispanic Festival at Riverscape

The paper had an article on the growing Latino community here, saying it’s increased by over 40% since 2000. This sounds good, until one realizes that this population, combined with foreign born from other parts of the world is still extremely low, less than 5%, compared to places like Chicago (21%) or California. Still, this is becoming a well-attended festival, and quite multi-culti, as this is for Latinos from all over Latin America and the Caribbean (it is sponsored by PACO, the Puerto-Rican/Caribbean Organization, I think?), and gets a fair amount of non Latinos, too. The festival used to be a the Fraze in Kettering, but has been at Riverscape for a few years now
There is always a few booths, both for clothing, toys, and food. El Meson (a restaurant owned by Colombians) has a stand, and the “paella man” is usually there working this big wok-like cooking pan
Music. The afternoon usually has more of a folkloric thing, including Dayton’s Sol Azteca folk dancers. Later there is more dance music, like this band, Grupo Fuego, from Cleveland
And then there are little things happening all around, like these folks playing music and dancing. I've seen older latino guys playing dominos at tables, too, which seems really foreign to me..

Mike Davis, in his book Magical Urbanism, talks about how Latin Americans are transforming American citys. This isn’t as evident here, but go to Chicago and see how this immigration is pumping new life into the old neighborhoods. Latin America is perhaps more like Europe in that it is, in a general sense, an urban culture, or at least doesn’t de-value city life as much as North America does.

For more pix of the festival, click here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Austin Road Revisited....who are todays players?

Revisiting Austin Road. The first post had information from the mid 1990s. Things have changed.

Nowadays it seems that the big player at this site is RG Properties, Inc. (RG being the initials of the owner, Randall Gunlock).

RG is a big developer of retail property and is Wal-Marts regional partner. RG was responsible for two of the larger retail developments on 725 in Washington Township and RG also did most of the retail development on Wilmington between I-675 and Alex-Bell.

RG does have limited involvement with offices, really just two small properties near Newmark and on Yankee. Their mixed use Cornerstone development in Kettering is maybe the largest with some office use

So it was surprising to see them involved with Austin Road as this area was to be developed as offices, not retail. Press reports from May say they have an option to buy the property on the NW corner of the interchange from the Transportation District (the property the port authority purchased from Long Farm Investors) contingent on RG coming up with a development plan.

Press reports from 2005 also talk about RG in a legal tangle with Springboro over plans to develop a Wal-Mart and Kohl’s on Austin, between Austin and SouthTech industrial park. Apparently this was to be a repeat of Wilmington Pike, but totally contrary to the office/industrial land use plan for the area. An out of court settlement was reached, and RG has a sign on-site advertising “Springboro Landing” as a mixed use development.

RG’s website has nothing on this, though. They are advertising their Washington Ridge property as a retail possibility, at Austin and Yankee,: supporting graphics show “Austin Landing” in the background, but nary a word on this on their website other than the graphic

RG also has another retail site at Social Row and 48, “Washington Station.”
Putting it all together one can see this development company has some very strategic parcels (especially if they really do control the land at all four corners of the interchange) strung out along Austin/Social Row from the interchange to route 48. I think the one to watch is the “Washington Ridge” parcel, as this has potential for being a retail center, though some of this might be developed as residential. RG had tried to get this parcel annexed by Springboro but was rebuffed.

What's not shown are the Oberer holdings. Oberer controls substantial residential development along Social Row, but also holds the southeast corner of the Yankee/Austin interchange as a retail parcel, and land on 48, east of 48 somewhat across from the RG tract at 48 and Social Row.

Though this land has went through a lot of speculation, it’s a good bet RG ends up being the actual developer, given their good track record of execution.

In any case, one can start to see the outlines of the future look of the county line area, as the last open spaces become filled in.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Peace Festival on Courthouse Square

This past Friday, 4 PM to 9 PM, the Dayton Peace Museum sponsored the "Peace One Day Street Festival" in conjunction with the UN world peace day:
The festival had various tables with activist groups, and some churches like the Quakers and Unitarians were there. Live entertainment of various types, including Dayton's Sleepybird and singer songwriter Donal Hinley up from Nashville.

A brief pix tour

I am always suprised to see events like this in Dayton...that anyone even shows up... especially things with a pacifist subtext like the Peace Museum, as this area is fairly conservative when it is not apathetic. Also the local economy is somewhat intertwined with war due to the economic impact of Wright-Patterson AFB and the defense contractor community. So one would not expect much support.

The peace musuem itself is in an old victorian house on Monument Street.

You can take a quick virtual tour of the grand opening by following this link

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Austin Road: Dayton's Suburban Frontier

Dayton OS has an excellent series of articles on the status of the Austin Road interchange, which promises to be a major infrastructure project in terms of its impact. The stories are mostly about funding/cost issues, but the comments go beyond that.

1. The $77M Boondoggle

2. Borrowing $25M to Reduce Risk on Austin Pike

3. Strickland Calls For Private Developer Contributions
( more about prioritizing highway infrastructure, & showing some refreshing thinking from Strickland)

What is Austin Road?

The basic idea is to construct a new interchange in I-75 between Springboro and the 75-675 interchange, at the Austin Road overpass. The project also involves reconstructing the Austin Road/Springboro Pike intersection, replacing it with an elaborate continuous flow interchange, and relocating and realigning Byers Road.

The affect of this interchange will be all along the county line to well to the east, as Austin Road connects to Social Row, which will become a major east-west crosstown route, like 725 and Spring Valley Road. To the west it will open up the area south of Miamisburg and west to the Great Miami.

This somewhat dated aerial shows a lot of the new development happening south of the mall/725 corridor,(there has been even more) with a few well known subdivisions labeled. The interchange will have the effect of reorienting traffic to the south and west, away from the I-675 interchanges and the mall area. The interchange will open up the Byers Road and southwest Miami Township areas. It might even relieve the congestion at the Franklin/Springboro interchange
Who benefits in the immediate vicinity? As far as I know an interchange was first proposed here in the early 1990s (maybe earlier?). Taking a look at land ownership from the early-mid 1990s, one sees some big players of that time: Oberer, Danis, Mead, they all had large tracts of land near the interchange site. Also some lesser known speculators , like Long Farm Investors (?), trusts, limited partnerships, a bank (the predecessor to Keybank I think), and so forth.

One can speculate on the intentions. Was the thinking, or a hunch, that an interchange would be built at this location, hence local developers and investors buying up land in the area, or was the interchange proposal a response to the real estate activity?

Note that in press reports the justification is twofold, relief of congestion by providing an alternate route to the interstate system, and economic development.

What’s also interesting is the role of local governments. The City of Dayton was a player here as they own the general aviation airport off Springboro, including clear zones and Waldruh Park. Dayton, Miami Township, and Springboro all are cooperating on development planning. Miami Township and Dayton have formed a “Joint Economic Development District”(JEDD) as a development tool, using income tax revenue from within the JEDD to pay for infrastructure improvements. The county Port Authority is buying property, as is Springboro, not just as a contribution to the interchange land acquisition, but as development landThe county Transportation Improvement District (TID) is managing the whole deal.

The idea is to develop the area around the interchange as a new buisness center, with mostly office and light industrial use. Also hotels and limited retail (no big boxes). The Dayton Buiness Journal has a good article on the plans: Austin Road Interchange to Drive Development

This agressive, highly interventionist approach to development is quite a contrast to the "no money/it can't be done" attitude toward redeveloping the Arcade downtown.

For more detail on Austin Road (including a traffic engineering plan of the Springboro/Austin intersection), at Urban Ohio:
Dayton-Springboro: Austin Road Update

For a "Critical Spatial Practice" interpretation (with lots of pix of the area):
Au$tin Road

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Canal Street's been nearly 20 years.

Canal Street Tavern was the first bar I went to in Dayton after moving here from California.

It was in December 1987…a Sunday night…I went to see a bluegrass band. I was a big bluegrass fan back then, and used to listen to it a lot back in Califas.

After that I was there frequently from, say, 1988 through the mid 1990s. Even had a favorite seat: the crows nest up in the 'bleachers' near the doorman, where one had a great view of the stage and who was coming in, but pretty private, too.

I saw a lot of bands here. The place was playing what I was into. A lot of that folk/celtic/rock hybrid, acts like The Drovers from Chicago, Cordelias Dad from New England, Figgy Duff and Boiled in Lead from up in Canada. And some big-name overseas acts like Silly Wizard and John Renbourne. Later, they even had Dick Gaughan (one of my all time favorite celtic folk performers) and Old Blind Dogs. And bluegrassers like Peter Rowan (who I saw in California, too).

The place always featured local original acts. Forgotten (but memorable for me) bands like Tuba Blooze and the Highwaymen, and performers that are still around, and still peform there, like singer/piano player Sharon Lane. CST always had some good bluegrass every so often, but the highlight for the trad style was the Dry Branch Fire Squads annual winter show, especially with Anne & Phil Case as the opener.

CST is a "musicians room". It was intended as such, as a venue for original live music. The owner, Mick Montgomery, is an old folksinger from back in the 1960s, and I think they always have performers on their staff. I know that Steve Gullet, late of the American Static, was their doorman for awhile. People who come there are as often as not musicians themselves (for the record I can't play, sing, or read music, just a fan). So the vibe at CST had a certain wasn’t a bar with music as incidental, it was there for people who appreciated popular music of a certain type, artists and fans.

It is difficult to express my feeling about this place without getting mystical or gushy about the connection between artist and audience, the power of music to move people, or the spirit of the place, and so forth. But there have some transcendent moments there where things just clicked right, and you came out just glowing (and it wasn't the beer).

Though I don't go there much nowadays Canal Street Tavern has helped make Dayton livable for me during my early years here. It's also been a musical education of sorts. For me CST remains one of Daytons special places, and its good to know it’s still around.

As postscript, there is this poster on the wall of CST, near the stage entry for the musicians, that reads like this:

"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you've not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow."
- Woody Guthrie.

....and I'll leave it at that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Urban Nights Inspires the Bloggers (but whats goin' on?)

Two of the more urban affairs oriented Dayton blogs are abuzz after Urban Nights, which apparently was quite an event.

Esrati has come up with a list of pretty good ideas on how to improve downtown. And Bill @ Dayton Most Metro has a great call to action directed at not just at the political leadership but also at local citizens and buisnesses. I particularly liked the Most Metro post as it was fairly inspirational and makes me wish we had more urban evangelists like Bill around town.

Yet what is really the plan for downtownton? As Marvin Gaye sang, "Whats Goin' On?"

Well, everything is pretty close-hold here, isn't it? We know about Ballpark Village. But what else?

I found something online. A planning document prepared by Citywide Development. And it is chilling. Apparently this is going to be an economic development part of the Daytons city plan and is recent, from June of this year:

CitiPlan 2020 Focus 2010 and Beyond
Economic Development Component
(2007). New Product and Reuse. Create new building product that is more aligned with the demands of today’s marketplace by providing:

* large horizontal floor plates

* close in parking and other amenities.

Find reuses for obsolete office buildings that can be transformed into non-traditional re-uses” Downtown Office Space….Work with community partners to develop strategic shovel-ready sites for potential development”.

So, what does this bureaucratic bafflegab mean? Well, it means they are going to finish the job started by urban renwal in the 1960s. The concept is large flat or low buildings ("...large horizontal floor plates...")and adjacent parking and maybe lunchtime restaurants and dry cleaners and such ("...close in parking and other amenities...")

The idea is to maybe use Port Authority or other agencies to clear sites and remediate hazamats to provide empty property that could compete with surburban office parks
for potential development("...Work with community partners to develop strategic shovel-ready sites..."). Conceptually this would be akin to what Kettering did with Hills and Dales or what UD is doing with the NCR site.

So it's back to the future. Examples of large horizontal floor plates with close-in parking built on shovel-ready sites, downtown, from the 1960s...

...groovy, baby. But what about that city income tax?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Sideshow....maybe more the Big Top of local art.

I skipped Urban Nights again this year, but did visit "The Sideshow", put on by the Circus, on Saturday. I really like what this Circus group is doing. There is an edge to their work that reminds me a bit of HATCH up in Detroit. Maybe working more on the Dada/surrealist/outsider art vein. Just really juicy and engaging art at this show....

This fellow had a pretty interesting show at the Convention Center earlier in the year. Art with a political edge, reminds me a bit of the politically engaged art of the Weimar Republic.
There was live entertainment, performance art, but also this rapper, who started out by rapping on Fela, but then also about life in Dayton...this fellow reminded me of Gil Scott-Heron or the Last Poets in his subject matter....topical/message rather than "thug"...

For a quick walkthrough of the Sideshow click here.

Dayton used to be pretty abysmal for art outside of musuems and the performing arts, but that has started to change. This Circus group is really intriguing and is something I would never have expected in Dayton.

Why "Daytonology"?

Back when I used to post elaborate thread headers at Urban Ohio other posters used to ask if the research was part of my masters theses or term paper. I always laughed to myself about this, thinking “yeah, a masters degree….in what? Daytonology? “

As an example of Daytonlogy, I posted this over at Urban Ohio maybe a year or two ago. This reflects my interest in vernacular architecture, which is really studied more by cultural geographers, folklorists, and anthropologists, than it is by architects and architectural historians.

These are the common buildings of a city, the urban fabric, most of what is the "built environment", and a contributor to the character of a city. This is what I usually looked at in the threads I parented over at Urban Ohio.

Here I develop a theory about a house form found in Dayton's 19th century neighborhoods, which are slowly slipping away as abandonment and demolition work their way through the city.

The theory is that what one sees in Dayton is an urban adaption of the "I-house", a rural house form well-known to cultural geographers, and found throughout the US, but mostly in the Ohio Valley and lower Midwest, having origins in the Middle Atlantic and perhaps also Virginia & the Chesapeake Bay area. This house form was named by Fred Kniffen, a professor at LSU, who called it that as he saw a lot of them in the "I" states...Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa (and the house form was tall and thin, like the letter I).

There are variations of this form, and we see those in the Dayton area too, particularly the two-room deep I-house, which originated in Pennsylvania, I think, and the tendency to build the I-house right up to the property line facing the street in urban situations, or with minimal setback. This is another feature of the Mid-Atlantic vernacular, contrasting with the looser arrangement of buildings around a green, as one might see in New England. Whether set back on a farm or built in town, the form always had the roof ridgeline running parallel to the street or road.

Starting out with some examples of an I-house, two old farmhouses in Dayton and one in Portsmouth, Ohio (Portmouth pix an plans are from an exhibition catalogue from a show at Miami U on old Portsmouth architecture)

I use the Portsmouth one as a generic example, showing how it could be transformed into an urban version, as one would see in Dayton....

Flipping the house to fit on narrow city lots...

Modifications, but certain key features remain (the L and central entrance, now on the side)
Additional modifictions...second floors and rear additions....
….to continue, visit “The Folk Process in Dayton’s Oregon”, which looks at that neighborhood as the place where a local urban vernacular was worked out.

I speculate on the origin of the double, discuss how and why housing density increased in the Oregon and other close-in Dayton neighborhoods, and close with a time series of old Oregon houses, from the 1830s to the Civil War, looking at the shift in house orientation and early examples of the urban I-house. example of "Daytonology".

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Closer Look at Manufacturing

As promised in an earlier blog post on the local tool & die industry here is an exploration of the local manufacturing economy, using the census County Business Patterns (CBP). The in-depth discussion is over at Urban Ohio, but as teaser (if stats and graphs are your thing) here are some openers.....first off, understand the NAICS...this coding system is how CBP organizes stats for manufacturing establishments, payroll, and employment. NAICS codes found for Montgomery County industry (I only looked at the county) are these:

.....which seem to show a pretty diverse manufacturing economy.

Looking at the years 1998 thru 2005 (my CBP source only goes through 2005), on can see the drop in manufacturing, and the employment size for each sector. There is an "unassigned" category to take into account data supression for smaller industrial sectors, but it does not affect the overall trend.

...note the big red category. This would be vehicle assembly and auto parts and components. It will be shrinking even more due to the Delphi cutbacks and closures. Tool & Die would be in the pink and royal blue categories..NAICS 332 & 333.

For more detail, a few line charts comparing various high-employment subsector trends, and a comparison with other non-manufacuring economic sectors, follow this link to the Urban Ohio thread.

A Desire Named Streetcar

Some recent posts at Dayton Most Metro made me think of the ongoing attempts in Dayton for some form of rail transit.

The first suggestion was from the early 1960': The "Backbone Transit System". I was really suprised to come across this is transportation planning document from that era, to see in incorporated into the local transportation plan.

The idea actually would have worked, as this very concept is used in the modern-day Sacramento Light Rail system, as a system of feeder bus lines to a backbone rail rapid transit system. But its interesting to see how limited this was, too, with the rapid transit line ending t around Fairmont or Hillcrest on the north side and Dorothy Lane on the south end.

An interesting aspect of the line is that they were actually considering walking distances from stations, which implied a possibility of transit oriented developement...way ahead of its time.

One of the problems with this system is that if it was intended to be a light rail system they would had to import rolling stock from Europe as there was nothing available stateside at that time.

In the late 1960s and very early 1970s the Feds came up with the "Corridor Study" for the south suburban area, which was pretty much a dedicated right-of-way busway on an old railroad line. This was rejected and agitation ensued for a true ligh-rail system...Dayton Area Rapid Transit (DART). DART advocates got a fairly in-depth study for a line south, and actually had some high-powered bi-partisant political support, including Ohios' GOP senator of that time.

This was truly a turning point for the Dayton region as at the same time I-675 was mired in controversy. Some politicians suggested using I-675 appropriations to fund this rapid transit system. Though this might seem really "out-there", the very thing was happening in Sacramento, California around the same time...and the transit advocates and freeway opponets did suceeed...voiding a LA-style freeway system and constructing a light rail system instead.

This did not happen in Dayton. DART was killed by bureaucratic veto, and local politicians opted to support I-675 instead, rather than fight for DART. The die was cast, and cast well, for decentralized auto-oriented suburbia.

For more detail on DART, including station layouts and route alignments link here. ...there is quite a bit on this system, and the planning went pretty far along before the concept was deep-sixed by the Feds. If built, this would have been one of the very first light-rail systems in the US.

With the advent of the Dayton Aviation National Historic Park light rail concepts revived. Since the Wright Brothers took trolleys to their flying field, some sort of rail interpretation was considered. The first plan from the mid -1990s was pretty agressive...suggesting a light rail system under the guise of a "heritage rail":

This plan was rejected and a revised , limited heritage rail system was propose in early 2004. This system would have linked the Wright-Dunbar area with downtown and the Oregon district, and provided shuttle bus service out to the more distant sites.

In 2005 a revised and expanded version was suggested, which appears to go beyond mere tourism to function as a sort of transit link between downtown and the UD/MVH area, but also to connect with DAI, too, in a later phase.

What is "heritage rail"? Well, its sort of nostalgic and touristic as it uses reproduction or vintage rolling stock from early streetcar lines, but runs them on modern systems. Good examples are the systems in Charlotte, NC (which is actually fairly long) and lines in Memphis and Kenosha, Wisconsing (the Kenosha line is being expanded).

Whither the desire named streetcar in Dayton? No word on the proposals for heritage rail. the last info dates to 2005 on the MVRPC website.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Save Wilbur Wright School ...meeting this Monday

Tip of the hat to Joe Lacey for giving me a blog topic. He had posted about Wilbur Wright School under that Century Bar entry, with this pertinent bit of info:

"Monday night the Dayton Board of Education is meeting with neighbors, alumni, and others concerned about the fate of the Wilbur Wright building. The original building and auditorium were built in 1926. The board had originally planned to demolish these structures with little or no input from the neighborhood but are now planning a meeting to explain their decision. If we can get enough people to this meeting, I think that we can get the board to reconsider.

"The board's original decision to demolish was made under the false notion that building renovations must cost less than two thirds of the cost of building new, a ridiculous hurdle for any building, or the state would not allow the renovation.

"These and other issues will be brought to light

This is Wilbur Wright School, on Huffman Avenue in East Dayton. It is set back from the street on landscaped lawn:

The building is rather monumental close-up, and long. The central block, which I think is or was the gym, breaks the facade
The urban context for this building has been lost somewhat as across the street was the Central Theological Seminary, which had its own landscaped grounds. Wilbur Wright and the Central Theological site are both nearly at the top of Huffman Hill, and would have created sort of a landmark area on Huffman, visually seperating the hilltop neighborhoods from areas further down Huffman. Central Theological was replaced by an apartment complex probably in the very late 1930s or 1940s, though one seminary building remains, but hidden by the apartments. Only Wilbur Wright remains, for now.
The gym is fairly impressive and would have been even more so when those three two story high windows were still in place. Lots of nice small details on this building, including the decorative medallions and the acroteria on the top coping. The detailing of this facade is a good demonstration of using reveals, shadowlines, and step backs to visually activate what would be a flat, banal surface (note especially the corner treatement and inset pilasters). And the doors are certainly emphasised, with the flanking one story vestibule blocks.

So much to say here. Just a quick comment on replacement vs renovation.

I know that there is such a % of replacement cost policy for military facilities, but that policy is flexible, and deals more with what appropriation the funding will come from...the operations vs capital budget...and that it is possible to fund a costly renovation from the capital budget.

So what it the policy for deciding school renovations vs replacement, and is this a state or DPS policy? And how is the school replacement cost arrived at?

And can one really replace a building with this level of detail? Now one is entering the realm of aesthetics, which is something there is never money for.

There are other, deeper issues around this, but I don't want to post on them yet.