Housing, retail options proposed for former Good Sam site

Locally-owned retail, market-rate housing, office and incubator space and community gathering spaces are among the types of redevelopment planners say should be developed at the former Good Samaritan Hospital site.

A detailed vision was presented Tuesday evening that outlined ways to redevelop the 13-acre hospital site at the intersection of Salem Avenue and Philadelphia Drive but also to build up and support the surrounding neighborhood. Good Sam closed in July.

The site plan will be used as a guide when seeking proposals to redevelop the property. Premier Health officials plan to tear down the hospital campus with the exception of the parking garage and Five Rivers Health Centers, which will continue to operate on site.

The health system has also pledged $10 million toward the redevelopment, which is intended to leverage additional funding.

About 175 people attended the meeting at Fairview PreK-6th School, including neighborhood residents, business owners, city officials and several members of Premier Health’s leadership including CEO Mary Boosalis.

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The display boards from the meeting will be on display at the Northwest Branch of the Dayton Metro Library. The planning firm, Planning Next, will review feedback on its proposal and the Phoenix Project board will vote whether to accept the final recommendation.

“Our charge here has been to map a way forward,” said Jamie Greene, principal at Planning Next.

The outline listed types of development that should be encouraged at the site, including:

  • More housing such as townhouses, single-family homes, corridor apartment-style buildings and types of housing not available in surrounding neighborhoods;
  • Retail such as restaurants and locally-owned retail;
  • Open space such as playing fields, community gardens and small-scale outdoor entertainment venues; and
  • Certain types of medical uses such as clinics, mental health services and holistic health services. Premier has previously said the property, if sold, would be deed restricted against inpatient beds.

The site plan states types of development discouraged under the proposal includes heavy industry, non-market rate housing, strip centers and discount variety stores.

Tony Shultz, a Dayton View resident, said he was encouraged to see a wide range of people from the different neighborhoods at the meeting. He sees a chance for the northwest neighborhoods to market their value as close to downtown but with more bang for your buck.

“People come up to me and say ‘Downtown is already overpriced as it is. I want a house with a backyard and a place to raise my family,’” Shultz said.

The site plan encourages interim investments to build excitement, which can be smaller projects backed by crowdfunding or grants, such as temporary events and entertainment or pop-up retail.

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For the surrounding neighborhoods, the plan suggests improving the physical condition of the blocks around the 13-acre site.

A “walk audit” should be done to survey the area for dangerous roads and intersections for people walking, which would point the way for where there could be improvements for pedestrian and bicycle connections.

Existing homeowners should be supported through programs and additional investments should be incentivized, possibly modeled on past or existing Phoenix Project efforts. Different long-term or short-termamenities could help build a sense of place, such as planters with flowers, decorative crosswalks, and signage.

There should be a plan on how the Salem and Catalpa gateway will be maintained so to protect years of investment in the intersection.

The history and architecture of the neighborhoods should be showcased, the proposal recommends. Special districts in College Hill and Dayton View Triangle that aren’t historic district zoning but still recognize the history could boost property values, give access to tax credits and help with branding.

Tim and Ami Bement, Dayton View residents, attended the meeting to see the plans, saying that after 22 years they are invested in the future of the neighborhood.

“We love marketing the neighborhood to young people to move in,” Ami Bement said.

As an architect, Tim Bement said he likes the proposal in the site plan for special districts and that they could be a great way to promote historic architecture while not tying homeowners’ hands the way a historic district might. But also looking at architecture, he said wishes some of the former hospital buildings and their unique architecture would be preserved and that an effort would be made to find creative new purposes.

“Unique architecture is such a great motivator to get people interested in redeveloping a site,” he said.

According to the proposal, there should be a branding strategy for the surrounding neighborhoods and the ongoing work of community groups such as the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor and Salem Avenue Business Association that should be supported and built upon.

The vision for the site and surrounding neighborhood comes at a time when different community groups are working on initiatives along the Salem Avenue corridor.

A community-owned grocery store, Gem City Market, is planned along lower Salem Avenue. The Salem Avenue Peace Corridor is working on plans for neighborhood improvements and marketing community assets.

The plan calls for the continuation of a Phoenix Project-supported policing initiative, which now funds two full-time police officers and includes a number of tools such as bicycle patrol, a Phoenix Hotline, “Trusted Advisor Reporting,” Court Watch, a partnership with a housing inspector, regular regular communication with neighbors and tracking of statistics and progress.

The site plan recommends there should also be programs to promote wellness and education.

As the plan to redevelop the site moves forward, there remains a pending civil rights complaint against the closure of the hospital, which criticizes Premier for shutting a hospital in a majority-black service area while the health system expands its reach in whiter and wealthier parts of the region.

The hospital — which employed 1,600 at the main campus — had been an anchoring presence for the surrounding neighborhoods even as the population thinned and other businesses left. Its closure drew concern over not only the loss of health services but about the economic impact.

Premier officials have said high numbers of empty beds, the high cost of facility upkeep and its proximity to Miami Valley Hospital all played a role in the decision to close Good Sam.

Premier CEO Mary Boosalis thanked everyone who gave feedback or came out to the planning meetings.

“Personally and professionally the decision to close Good Sam was probably the hardest thing that the board of Premier and myself have gone through,” Boosalis said.

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