Famous Neighborhood Gets Fresh Look
Dayton, Ohio has addressed the challenge to blend the old and new into a revitalized inner city neighborhood, thanks to the assistance of numerous partnerships--both public and private--generating a $20 million investment.
The Wright-Dunbar Village Project is the most aggressive urban renewal project taken on by the City of Dayton in the last 20 years. The west Dayton neighborhood has experienced what has become typical of some inner city neighborhoods with businesses closed, buildings left abandoned, residents moving out, and an overall deterioration of the area. But a community-wide initiative is changing all that.
History of area
The Wright-Dunbar Village is named in honor of three of Dayton's most famous residents. The pioneers of flight, the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, grew up and operated businesses in the neighborhood. African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar also made his home in the area.
The housing renovations now taking place in the neighborhood will complement other activities in what was recently designated the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park. The national park was named in honor of the Wright Brothers' contribution to Dayton's history. The Dayton community will be celebrating 100 years of flight in 2003, and revitalizing the housing stock in Wright-Dunbar Village has been a high priority to enhance the appearance of the neighborhood in time for the centennial festivities.
Plans for the Wright-Dunbar Village project called for renovating approximately 100 vacant or abandoned houses and constructing another 40 new in fill houses. The project has been a collaborative effort between the City of Dayton; the project management team, Projdel; numerous financial institutions; the Home Builders Association of Dayton and the Miami Valley; and residents of the neighborhood.
While the details and planning for the project took many years to evolve, actual construction of Phase I on the village began in May, 1995, with the city's initial investment of $4.8 million.
Private Dollars Invested
The city's initial investment has leveraged another $3 million in private funds in Wright-Dunbar Village. Much of the early private investment was made when 12 vacant homes were sold for renovation to individuals and three to the Neighborhood Development Corporation for $1 via a lottery process. Interested buyers in the lottery process were required to provide proof of financial ability to renovate, agree to a renovation deadline, and be willing to adhere to the residency requirements to boost home ownership. Eight empty lots were also sold to developers to build new in-fill houses. The official open house ceremonies, held in October, 1997, generated so much interest that another six additional houses were awarded in the lottery and presales were closed for another nine newly built homes.
Along with the new and rehabilitated homes, the complete Wright-Dunbar Village project included a variety of infrastructure and utility improvements, such as new water and gas service, the repair of streets, sidewalks and curbs, the installation of ornamental period street lighting, and the planting of new trees in the area.
The Fourth Street Gateway Project serves as the official bonds to finance the construction, maintenance, or repair of electric generating or transmission equipment and to require any municipally owned utility that permitted other utilities access to its transmission lines or provided electricity outside its boundaries to call its current outstanding municipal bonds.
Federal action on electric utility deregulation has already preempted some municipal finance authority. Action in 1998 by Congress could lead to the same sort of rate increases city residents have experienced since Congress deregulated cable rates. Congressional action could have serious consequences for municipal rights-of-way, franchise, and tax authority. …