Revitalizing Downtown: Dayton

November 20, 2012 6 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a brief tour of downtown Dayton and learns about the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan.

About Downtown Dayton

Named in honor of Jonathan Dayton, a captain in the American Revolutionary War and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, Dayton is the fourth largest city in Ohio.  Marketed as a shipping center, the city was designed with very broad and straight streets to enable wagons drawn by teams of oxen to turn around. Dayton grew to become an important manufacturing center during the late-19th and early 20th century.  Local feats included the Wright Brothers inventing the first successful airplane, John Henry Patterson making the first cash register, and the Monsanto Chemical Company producing polonium in atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

In recent decades, the city has worked to diversify its economy and is now known as a defense, healthcare, and aerospace hub. In addition, there has been significant redevelopment of the downtown area since the mid-1990s. In 2010, the city was recognized by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the best places in the country for college graduates to find a job. Today, Downtown Dayton is home to 21,000 workers, over 60 restaurants, 35 nightclubs and bars, and 2,000 residents.

The Greater Downtown Dayton Plan

Tale of the Tape:

Dayton City Population 2011: 142,148 (City); 845,388 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1805)

Jacksonville Pop. 2011: 827,908 (City); 1,360,251 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Dayton (243,872)

City Land Area

Dayton: 55.7 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2011)

Dayton: +1.46%
Jacksonville: +1.09%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Dayton: 724,091 (ranked 59 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Dayton: 2,060.4 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2011

Dayton: -24,031
Jacksonville: +92,405

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Dayton: Dayton Convention Center (19--) - 68,352 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Dayton: The Crowne Plaza - 283 rooms
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Dayton: Kettering Tower - 405 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2012 (City limits only):

Dayton: Zero (0)
Jacksonville: CSX (226), Winn-Dixie Stores (363), Fidelity National Information Services (425), Fidelity National Financial (472)

Urban infill obstacles:

Dayton: Downtown connectivity to nearby neighborhoods is limited by elevated railroads and expressways.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Dayton: Oregan District
Jacksonville: East Bay Street

Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Downtown: 86 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to

Downtown Dayton Sights and Scenes

Traveling west on West 3rd Street.

The Landing development was built in two phases. Nearly all rental it was the first market-rate downtown housing adaptive re-use project, converting the YMCA tower into rental apartments.

The Cooper (older building) and “Coop Take II” (new infill) are examples of housing in Downtown Dayton.

Downtown’s Second Street Public Market is a gathering place that attracts thousands of visitors from near and far on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Fresh-baked bread, award-winning salsas, fresh fruits and vegetables and a wide variety of other intriguing foods, crafts and merchandise are offered for sale at this unique facility on the eastern edge of downtown.

Fifth Third Field is home to the Dayton Dragons, one of Sports Illustrated’s “Ten Hottest Tickets” in all of sports. The state-of-the-art stadium features two party decks, picnic areas, a large video scoreboard, an upper deck, luxury suites and a team store. The Dragons have shattered Minor League Baseball attendance records, averaging more than 8,000 fans per game, filling the park to 116% capacity.

RiverScape is a riverside park and an event venue that has attracted more than 50,000 people in a single night. It’s a place where people of all ages come to take paddleboat rides on the river, listen to live music, and take a break outside.  It’s also a place where both kids and grown-ups can learn about Dayton’s history and the many inventions that were born in the city. The centerpieces of RiverScape are Festival Plaza, featuring lovely flower gardens and reflecting pools and a playful, interactive fountain where kids can cool off on a hot summer day, and the MetroParks Pavilion for performances and events.  In the winter, the Pavilion magically transforms into an ice skating rink.  Approximately 400,000 people visit RiverScape annually and it is anticipated that $100 million in private spin-off investment will occur around the park.

Downtown plays an important role in a larger effort to enhance cycling culture in the City of Dayton, the only Ohio city selected as a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists in its spring 2010 rankings. Dayton was awarded a bronze-level status for its efforts to help make the city more bicycle friendly through such initiatives and amenities as these:

Bike Parking & Bike-Friendly Streets
You'll find permanent bike racks throughout downtown, in addition to the temporary bike parking offered at many downtown events. Most bike rack locations can be found on our Downtown Dayton Biking Map, but you'll also find new racks popping up frequently elsewhere. In fact, nearly 100 new bright blue bike racks were installed in late 2012 thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Dayton office of CH2M Hill.

Several downtown streets are now equipped with bike lanes or "sharrows," designed to encourage motorists to share the road with cyclists, promote bicycle commuting and make downtown more bike-friendly.

The Cannery Lofts. Downtown Dayton housing developments enjoy a 92% occupancy rate.  Since 2000, the number of market-rate housing units has grown 81% from 518 to 937.  Currently, approximately 2,000 people live downtown. Approximately 240,000 people live within a five mile radius of downtown.

Main Street

Dayton Convention Center

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently opened its new, state-of-the-art Wright Stop Plaza Transit Center between Main and Jefferson Streets. The new transit center helps improve pedestrian flow at Third and Main Streets while enhancing amenities for RTA customers whose origin or destination is downtown. The Wright Stop Plaza Transit Center also brings new retail opportunities to Wright Stop Plaza tenants.

The center is packed with new technology features, including informational kiosks and easy-to-read digital signage with real-time bus arrival and departure displays. The sheltered waiting area features architectural "rooms without walls" that define well-lit platform sections, full accessibility for customers with disabilities, Wi-Fi accessibility and climate control for winter conditions.

Goals of this project included:

- Improve the visual appeal of Wright Stop Plaza
- Make the area more pedestrian friendly
- Improve transit service quality for downtown
- Eliminate extensive bus queuing along Main Street
- Relocate RTA customers to a safe environment, protected from inclement weather
- Support Convention Center events and activities
- Separate transit services from adjacent retail uses
- Increase the level of security and safety in the area
- The new transit center called for conversion of Jefferson Street to two-way traffic between Third and Fourth Streets to facilitate bus routing within the central business district. RTA was able to remove bus stops within approximately a two-block radius of Third and Main Streets, thereby relieving congestion on the roadways.

Construction began in June of 2008, and the new transit center opened in early September 2009.

Courthouse Square is the centerpiece of downtown Dayton and a hot spot for outdoor concerts, rallies, press conferences and other special events. The Square is packed during lunchtime in the summer as vendors provide a quick, tasty lunch to downtowners. The Old Court House presides over the Square. This remarkable structure served as the Montgomery County Court House from 1850 to 1944. Today, this masterpiece in masonry is one of the best examples of Greek Revival temple architecture in the nation. After an extensive renovation, the facility reopened in 2005 as a venue for meetings and events.

The Dayton Opera and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra call the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. The complex includes a 2,300-seat performance hall, a black box theatre, a block-long Wintergarden with a six-story glass atrium, and an 18-story tower with Class A office space and upscale residential condominiums.

There are approximately 15,000 parking spaces downtown.  They include 11,200 spaces in garages, 2,600 spaces in surface lots, and 1,200 spaces at parking meters.

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