Dayton’s southern Main Street corridor is worn down and contains a high concentration of empty buildings and storefronts.
But the redevelopment of the Dayton Arcade will start to change that, officials said, and South Main Street could be transformed into a thriving area with retail, pubs, eateries, sidewalk cafes and upgraded streetscapes based on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, also called the ‘Magnificent Mile.’
The rehab of the arcade would help connect the northern and southern sections of the urban core and hopefully would start to transform the Main Street corridor into a vibrant, 18-hour-a-day environment, said John Gower, urban design coordinator for CityWide Development Corp.
This is all part of a development vision for downtown that — over the next decade — calls for tripling the number of residents, adding 500 new businesses and creating 8,000 to 10,000 new jobs.
“I think this is the first time, in my 20-plus years with the city, that we have an opportunity to have a really meaningful economic development strategy for downtown,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
Cross Street Partners and Miller-Valentine Group, the team working to redevelop the arcade, revealed this week they may be just weeks away from securing financing for the initial phases of the project.
When the arcade is complete, the complex will house about 336 permanent jobs, according to developers.
But the project, if successful, is expected to have a much greater impact on jobs and investment downtown.
The arcade, part of which abuts Main Street, linked together the southern and northern sections of the urban core from when it opened in 1904 until it closed around 1990, Gower said.
The closure left lots of dead space on South Main and Fourth streets.
But if the arcade is resurrected, that would send economic ripples throughout the Central Business District, luring new investment to the empty spaces along Main and Fourth, officials said.
The Main Street corridor could become a walkable, dense, vibrant and livable district that is in high demand among young professionals, millennials and baby boomers, officials said.
RELATED: The Nine redevelopment strategy
The Main Street streetscape project is 26 years old and is at the end of its “useful” life cycle, Gower said.
The corridor needs a makeover, Gower said, and the idea is to follow the example set by the famed North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, which takes a very straightforward approach to attractive street planters, pedestrian lighting and other streetscaping improvements.
The Michigan Avenue streetscape project transformed 33 blocks of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile from an unbroken expanse of concrete into an “explosion of color and an ever-changing urban Eden,” according to Chicago-based firm Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, which oversaw the work.
Plants are switched out multiple times a year, depending on the season. The Magnificent Mile is a popular tourist destination, offering high-end shopping, entertainment, galleries, theaters, museums and a huge variety of dining options.
The arcade is one component of The Nine, a revitalization strategy for a nine-block section of downtown Dayton that has the Levitt Pavilion Dayton as its centerpiece. The strategy is to create a unique, urban neighborhood.
The arcade would add hundreds of residents with talents in creative fields and would be an economic and innovative hub.
The Levitt Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater planned for Dave Hall Plaza, would be a magnet for downtown that would host at least 50 free shows each year.
The pavilion, expected to open in 2018, likely will draw more than 100,000 visitors annually. The site is located diagonally across from the arcade.
All of those visitors provide big opportunities for businesses to move into empty storefronts along Fourth, Main and Jefferson streets, officials said.
“The goal is to leverage investment and activation and re-imaging the blocks surrounding Dave Hall Plaza,” Gower said.