Dayton’s planning board has approved a plan to construct a new facility on the former Good Samaritan Hospital site for a new YMCA and six other nonprofit organizations.
Some community members heralded the project as a big win for the area, saying the planned tenants and proposed uses will offer valuable wellness and educational services.
“The services that are going to be provided in the building here are very much in line with the Phoenix Next reuse and strategic vision plan,” said Dayton Plan Board member Ann Schenking, later adding, “I think this is an important catalytic project for the former Good Samaritan site.”
The project and site layout also provide a lot of flexibility for future phases of development, said Jeff King, general manager of the Dayton Regional Office for Ferguson Construction Co., which will lead construction of the project.
But some community members are worried about traffic and pedestrian safety in the area, and others wanted the plan board to postpone its vote because they said they are pushing for a full-service medical center at the site.
Matt Sauer, the only plan board member who voted against the proposal, said he thinks it falls well short of the vision for the property that community members and stakeholders helped develop.
“This is just seems like a very unambitious project to me and it makes me sad looking at it,” he said, noting that a large new parking lot will be be constructed even though an unused parking garage is already on the site.
The $17.5 million project calls for a new one-story building, 161-space surface parking lot and multi-purpose athletic field.
The proposal would redevelop about 5.3 acres of the 13-acre former Good Sam hospital campus, located at 2222 Philadelphia Drive in northwest Dayton.
The YMCA of Greater Dayton plans to occupy about half of the roughly 50,000-square-foot new facility, and the organization has confirmed its current Trotwood location is expected to close when its lease expires at the end of this year.
Services at the YMCA’s 5,000-square-foot neighborhood development center in Trotwood will be provided at the new facility, as well as additional ones, said Dale Brunner, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Dayton.
The goal is to close on financing for the project in late August, and hopefully construction will start this fall and will wrap up by late 2023, Brunner said.
Other planned tenants for the new building include Premier Health, United Way of the Greater Dayton Area, Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley, County Corp, CareSource and Wright State University.
The general development plan required a variance because the new building does not have an entrance facing a public right of way, as required by city code.
But the Good Sam site is unique because it has three “front doors” since it is bordered by Salem Avenue, Philadelphia Drive and Benson Drive, city staff said.
The new facility will be constructed near the southeast corner of the site and its entrance will face west, toward the new surface parking lot.
The site plan now calls for two pedestrian access points on Salem Avenue, and the multi-purpose field has been relocated from the southeast corner of the property to an area west of the parking lot, said Keeghan White, city of Dayton planner.
“The applicant has taken into consideration concerns from the plan board and has increased pedestrian access to the facility,” White said.
The proposed redevelopment of the Good Sam site supports a shared community vision for a healthy, welcoming and vibrant neighborhood, said Sharon Taste, branch manager with the Dayton Metro Library’s Northwest Branch Library.
But a couple of community members on Tuesday night asked Dayton’s Plan Board to postpone its vote on the general development plan.
They said they want more time to try to negotiate with Premier Health in the hopes of convincing the organization to build a full-service medical center on the property, with an emergency room, ICU and other services.
Premier Health, which owned Good Sam, closed the hospital in 2018 and demolished all of the structures on the site, except for a multi-story parking garage.
Premier Health has said it plans to put an urgent care facility, physician offices and physical therapy, medical imaging and lab services in the new facility.
A Premier Health spokesperson said the organization is not in negotiations for a new medical center there.
The plan board voted 5 to 1 to approve the general development plan.
Board member Greg Scott said the board does not have the authority to tell Premier Health what it should build.
Sauer, who cast the dissenting vote, said this project is a big box- or retail strip-type development that Phoenix Next’s planning efforts suggested should be avoided at the property.
“There was a much more, I think, sense of place-making in those (Phoenix Next vision) documents,” he said. “I can’t help but think this is a really sort of retrograde example of urban planning from last century, not something we might consider now.”
Other community members said they support the project, but they worry about pedestrian safety and how people will get to the site on foot or by bicycle.
Some people also have concerns about the proposed vehicular entrance and exit on Salem Avenue.
“Overwhelmingly, we support redeveloping this site — I think it’s going to do wonders for our community,” said Mindi Wardell, the vice president of the Dayton View Triangle Federation. “However, safety is probably the biggest concern for our residents, especially folks who have to cross Salem or Philadelphia to access the site.”
“We obviously want to walk to the YMCA and enjoy these facilities, but that’s very dangerous right now,” she said.