Still broken after all these years

The latest Dayton Arcade development plan will fail, too

By Mark Luedtke

You would be hard-pressed to come up with a more striking example of how government intervention in the market prevents market forces from working and creates blight and crime than the saga of Dayton’s Arcade. It stinks to see such a beautiful building with massive potential squandered by socialist interference. But we never learn, so instead of forcing government to remove its claws from the Arcade, we allow rulers to trap the building in perpetual squalor.

There was a ray of hope last fall when the Dayton Daily News reported, “The Montgomery County Land Bank agreed to take ownership of the bulk of the Dayton Arcade to eliminate more than $500,000 in delinquent taxes to help redevelop the complex.

“The land bank’s board of directors Thursday voted unanimously to accept the deed to five of the Arcade buildings from the current owners in lieu of foreclosure.

“The land bank will enter into an agreement to lease and sell the properties to the partnership team that plans to invest tens of millions of dollars into rehabbing the iconic group of interconnected buildings.”

The problem was taxes. The problem is always taxes. For decades, taxes weighed down the Dayton Arcade like an anchor. No development could proceed because of them, but rulers refused to waive them until last fall. Better decades late than never.

But having government’s land bank involved will continue to hinder development. It’s impossible for government to help develop anything. All it can do is hinder development through regulations and taxes.

But local government isn’t the only burden on redeveloping the Arcade. State government applies additional burdens. Last December state lawmakers toured the Arcade and were reportedly impressed, but that didn’t help. The DDN lamented, “The Dayton Arcade did not receive any part of the $22.8 million in state historic tax credits that were announced Tuesday, which was unexpected and disappointing for developers and city leaders.”

Another downtown project was luckier. “The Centre City building—a vacant highrise at 40 S. Main St.—won state support for its owners’ plans to create 164 new apartments and ground-level commercial space,” the DDN reported. I’m all for $5 million in tax credits, but downtown Dayton needs 164 more apartments like a drowning man needs a glass of water. The socialist religion demanding more housing and retail won’t go away.  It’s the U.S. version of the Soviet-style planning that doomed the Soviet Union and is dooming America.

And it doesn’t stop with the Centre City building. The DDN continues, “Owners say they will invest $46.4 million to repurpose the 21-story building, which plays a significant role in ‘The Nine,’ a revitilization [sic] strategy for a nine-block area in the heart of downtown.”

“The Nine” is a Soviet-style central plan. It steals money from productive people and gives it to cronies. Cronies calling themselves Centre City Partners LP purchased the building for less than $1.7 million. That shows you how depressed the downtown Dayton real estate market still is at the height of the current real estate bubble. When the crash hits, there’s going to be a bloodbath.

Owners of the Grant Deneau Tower nearby want to sell. The seller told the DDN, “That whole block, which they call the Nine, is going to take off… This is going to be a spectacular property.” If it’s going to be so spectacular, I wonder why he’s selling. The burden of local government has prevented downtown Dayton from being spectacular for decades, and that burden keeps increasing. Crony socialism won’t make “the Nine” spectacular.

There’s one way to make all of downtown spectacular again. It’s the American way, the way that defeated the Soviets. It’s the free market. Voters should force rulers to withdraw all interference in the market for real estate. Forgive all taxes. Remove all restrictions on the properties. Withdraw from the negotiating, buying, selling, and development of all property. If that happened, investors would revitalize downtown Dayton virtually overnight to benefit themselves and everybody in the region.

But that won’t happen until the coming crash bankrupts local government. Until then, we’ll suffer ever more taxes, spending, and cronyism. The DDN reports, “The city of Dayton will spend as much as $1 million to help pay for architectural, engineering, and demolition services for the Dayton Arcade, which officials said are needed to truly determine the cost of rehabbing the massive, vacant complex.”

One million dollars stolen from taxpayers and handed to cronies.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Mark Luedtke
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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