For so many Daytonians, a dream is being realized…a vital, vibrant and vivid city! The amazing turnaround is all most too much to believe, but cities everywhere are taking notice. “You have to go back to the 90’s and the formation of the Downtown Dayton Partnership to really see a beginning in all of this,” says Mayor Nan Whaley, beaming as she speaks of the turnaround town. “Their vision along with 2010 Greater Downtown Plan really got things rolling.” The plan was set up to make Dayton a LWP (live.work.play.) city. “I feel that people are discovering that Dayton is a authentic town, a genuine place where people are now believing in their city. We came off of 10 truly rough years, and we have developed a plan to maintain growth for the next 20. Through this vision, and a hard-working city commission, we have seen a boost in small business and housing.”
Housing is what so many Daytonians are impressed by. Builders are finding it hard to keep up with demand. You cannot visit downtown without seeing new housing, apartments, and lofts. “Our Water Street project is the fastest leasing project we have ever had.” said Jamie Moore of Crawford-Hoying Development. “Dayton is alive and on-fire!” And the developer said, ‘there is more to come…’ but remained hush-hush about details. “It’s exciting, really exciting!” he teased.
What are other Daytonians hoping for? “People want shopping, a grocery, and more local restaurants.” Whaley added, “As people move downtown, the demand increases and businesses follow. The Dragons Ballpark was instrumental in the riverfront growth. So many people investing in the community over time has paid off. It caused the city to get more aggressive about customer service and communication. The city’s reputation has been buoyed by the change in the level of services.”
Looking around you see what the mayor speaks about. Just about every month, new businesses are making their mark downtown. Restaurants like Arepas and Corner Kitchen; breweries like Dayton Beer Company and Barrel House; and shopping like Confetti and Eclectic Essentials now dot the urban landscape. Services are on the rise as well. “The Cannery will be at retail capacity for the first time in it’s history.” says Chrissie Jacobs, the leasing agent for the project. “Our property will play host to yoga, video production, printing services, a florist, a theatrical company, a photographer and a salon.” Great news for the newcomers to the city. “Our residential component is at 97% as well.”
Mayor Whaley sees a strong, successful future. “We have changed out tune from ‘we can’t do anything about it’ to ‘let’s get these problems fixed and continue to improve our city.” What does she see in the near future? “The kayak park is a game-changer. Having more recreation on-and-around the river benefits everyone. The talk of a resurrected Arcade has people so excited, and we are all cautiously optimistic, but that process will be slow and phased in as developers see fit. Of course, the housing boom will continue with more retail on ground floors and residents living in all kinds of unique living spaces.”
Perception has definitely changed. “Real estate downtown is red-hot.” Says Denise Swick, local realty expert. “People are buying properties in the city at a maddening pace. It’s hard to find real estate for buyers, a great problem to have!” Swick says it renews a faith in downtown living.
In all of this, probably most important is the pride Daytonians are gaining. “Citizens are betting on their city for the first time in a long time, ” says the Mayor. “They love Dayton, and Dayton Pride is alive and well!” You can truly feel the pride, the joy and excitement. Downtown Dayton….city, city BANG! BANG!