Street improvements, redeveloping the former Longfellow School and more local retail are all part of a Dayton group’s vision for the Salem Avenue corridor.
The Salem Avenue corridor has lost significant businesses in recent years including Good Samaritan Hospital, which closed in July, moving 1,600 employees away.
The hospital is scheduled to be demolished in 2019 and joins a list of pieces of community history and businesses that have closed, from the Salem Mall to Miracle Lane Shopping Center.
The final recommendation for the redevelopment of the 13-acre Good Samaritan site will be presented at a meeting 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Fairview PreK-6th School, according to CityWide Development, a private development corporation working on the redevelopment plan with Premier and Columbus-based Planning Next.
A market study of the Salem Avenue corridor by Wright State University, commissioned by community group Salem Avenue Peace Corridor, shows residents living in the Dayton neighborhoods along Salem Avenue spend millions of dollars annually outside the community and lack local options to shop.
The study shows seven of the 10 neighborhoods along the corridor have higher median incomes than the city as a whole, yet there is a lack of places in the northwest neighborhoods to grab a cup of coffee, grocery shop and dine out compared to other parts of Dayton.
“There’s no reason — no good business reason — why anyone wouldn’t want to take advantage of this kind of environment,” said Fred Holley, vice president of Salem Avenue Peace Corridor.
Salem Avenue Peace Corridor is working to use the data from the study as well as renderings of what redevelopment projects could look like to build excitement about investing in the corridor.
Fred Holley, vice president of the group, said “facts are our friends” and the market research shows a compelling case for business opportunities.
Zooming in on a one-mile radius of Salem and Grand avenues, the study focused on $41 million in annual spending outside of the community in three categories: a $24.3 million gap in food entertainment and recreation spending, $14.6 million gap for a mix of retail uses from gas stations to clothing to electronics, $2.8 million on health retail and related services including pharmacies, and cosmetics. This data was calculated before the Good Samaritan closing announcement.
If the target area is expanded to a three-mile radius, it becomes a $136.2 million gap for food, entertainment and recreation, a $156.2 million gap for the mix of retail and $8.6 million gap for health and related services.
Salem Avenue Peace Corridor leaders say they plan to build on this study. The group is early in the process of working with Dayton Public Schools on whether the historic Longfellow School at 245 Salem Ave., which closed in 2017, could be redeveloped for some type of commercial use.
Salem Avenue Peace Corridor owns several properties along Salem Avenue including the future site of the Gem City Market. The co-op grocery store is buying the property for less than half of the property’s assessed value.
Besides supporting the grocery store with the discounted land sale, the group plans to use the money from the sale of the land for further reinvestment projects and is working on a strategy for acquiring more property along the corridor. The group also wants to promote the housing stock in the historic districts along Salem and to spur more housing construction.
“We’ve allowed others to tell us we don’t deserve market-rate housing,” Holley said.
The group plans to pursue more projects to enhance the area’s visual appeal and work with the city staff to incorporate key elements of their vision for the Salem Avenue corridor into the city’s planning process, including making the street more friendly for walking and biking along lower Salem Avenue.
Salem Avenue Peace Corridor leaders want to build more neighborhood and community partnerships to build detailed plans and bring their ideas to a reality.
“It’s not one group that is going to make this happen. It’s many groups and many people and many entities that are going to make this happen,” said Jule Rastikis, president of the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor.
Along with funding the market feasibility study, the team recently placed a new “Salem Avenue Peace Corridor” sign at the start of Salem Avenue near the Riverview intersection, with the sign designed by local artist DeDe Cordero and architect Alex Bohler.
Some investments in recent years the group wants to build on include Greater Dayton Premier Management’s new investments – $9.9 million for 50 new senior apartments in Audubon Crossing, and $9 million for the 2018 renovation of 75 units in the Hallmark and Meridian apartments.
The housing authority also invested in the HOPE VI project, which included the construction of new single-family homes, 50 doubles, and 30 units of senior housing.
Some projects in the works along the corridor includes $9 million Hope Center for Families on the former United Theological Seminary campus, which is owned by the Omega Baptist Church. The a 31,400 square-foot center will have services geared toward education, workforce development and health and wellness improvement.
Omega Community Development Corp. and MVAH Partners also received tax credits to build Omega Senior Lofts, which will be affordable senior living apartments.
Premier Health, parent company of the former Good Samaritan Hospital, has pledged $10 million toward the eventual redevelopment of the 13-acre site and over the past 15 years been a partner in the Phoenix Project, which invested $20 million in the neighborhoods around the hospital and leveraged $45 million in private investment.