The DeSoto Bass Courts would be transformed under a plan for public housing in West Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

$96M plan ‘transforms public housing in Dayton’

A $96 million proposal to transform public housing in West Dayton calls for demolishing Hilltop Homes, shrinking and replacing DeSoto Bass units, adding new mixed-income housing and making other investments.

The multi-phase project — which could take as many as 15 years to complete, depending on funding — seeks to replace obsolete housing with new units and break up concentrated pockets of poverty by more evenly dispersing subsidized housing across the community.

The project’s price tag is daunting, but the community has a shot of winning up to $30 million in federal funds to help make the plan a reality.

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“We are planning on a 15-year plan that I think completely transforms public housing and makes it a moderate-income place of choice to live,” said Kiya Patrick, Greater Dayton Premier Management’s senior manager of development and real estate.

The changes seek to stabilize the targeted neighborhoods by reducing the number of subsidized units and having different kinds of people, with different income levels, living together in the same place, Patrick said.

A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has helped create a blueprint to transform two of Greater Dayton Premier Management’s (GDPM) largest public housing projects in West Dayton, as well as the surrounding area.

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GDPM plans to demolish Hilltop Homes’ 150 units. DeSoto Bass Courts, which sits on a 45-acre-site at Germantown Street and Danner Avenue, would be reduced from 350 to 250 units, and old units will be replaced with new ones.

Hilltop was constructed in 1965, and DeSoto Bass was built in two phases, between 1942 and 1953.

About 100 new replacement units also would be developed either in other parts of West Dayton where there are more amenities or elsewhere in the city and Montgomery County, Patrick said.

Additionally, the housing plan calls for working with a partner to build 40 units of single-family homes.

The plan also recommends putting service or commercial space in a town center at Germantown Street and James H. McGee Boulevard.

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Tarina White said she grew up in a public housing development in Youngstown and now lives in Hilltop Homes with her children.

White, 42, said she would like to see Hilltop torn down because it is old and deteriorating. GDPM estimates it would cost $28 million to modernize Hilltop Homes.

“If they can build some new homes, that would be good, and also some new playgrounds and a community center and better parks for the kids,” she said.

She said McCabe Park right now is “trashy,” which is a shame because it could be a nice public space.

She said GDPM’s proposed improvements would make a huge difference in the quality of the neighborhood.

GDPM’s vision is to create better housing with more choices.

GDPM, which has worked on the plan with the city of Dayton and CityWide, wants to reduce the concentration of subsidized housing, increase safety and security, enhance the Germantown corridor, offer enhanced open space and improve walkability.

The targeted area includes all of Miami Chapel and portions of the Edgemont and Madden Hills neighborhoods.

DeSoto Bass and Hilltop get a bad rep, officials said, and tenants hope to change the perceptions of the housing developments and see investments that strengthen the economic status of the area.

GDPM estimates that it will cost about $64 million to construct 250 replacement units at DeSoto Bass and build the 40 homeownership units.

It could cost about $2 million to tear down Hilltop Homes and around $30 million for replacement housing offsite, Patrick said.

GDPM received HUD funding, called the Choice planning grant, to create the plan. The public housing agency plans to apply for Choice Implementation funds in coming weeks. HUD’s awards have typically been around $30 million.

Even if GDPM does not win the implementation grant, it intends to move forward with implementing the plan, though some ideas may have to be scrapped and it could take 15 years to complete, officials said.

GDPM would pursue tax credits and other financing for the improvements.

“The more money we get, the more we can fast-track the plan,” Patrick said.

Also, other parts of the plan focus on improving infrastructure and transportation around DeSoto Bass. Officials would like to connect James H. McGee and Danner Avenue and extend Lakeview Avenue south to create a new boulevard through the development.

Officials say some roads dead end in DeSoto Bass, which create safety issues.

GDPM, and the city, are looking at improving McCabe Park, which right now is underutilized but could become a destination if cleaned up and upgraded, officials said.

This process is going to take time, even if GDPM wins a large federal implementation grant.

GDPM does not have approval from HUD to demolish Hilltop. GDPM expects to apply to demolish the units this year, and HUD typically takes 12 to 18 months to make a decision.

It is likely to be 2019 or 2020 by the time HUD makes a decision. Relocation of Hilltop residents would occur around 2020 or 2021, with demolition to follow in 2021 or 2022.

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