DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Five Rivers MetroParks along with nine other community organizations, recently released a progress report on the projects being completed as part of the Dayton Riverfront Plan. The 25-year initiative aims to spur more economic development as the public sector improves conditions around the waterways and communities downtown.
“What we saw with Riverscape and what we see throughout the nation [is] when urban areas invest in their waterfronts, they have a 10-fold ratio of additional investment from the private sector,” said Carrie Scarff, chief of planning and projects for Five Rivers MetroParks. “So for example, with Riverscape, the public partners invested a little under $40 million to build Riverscape. Since Riverscape began, the private sector has invested over $400 million in the approximately two blocks that surround Riverscape.”
The Riverscape Masterplan, which was implemented 20 years ago, was only one part of a series of long-term improvements meant to drive further investment downtown. Scarff said now that the recommendations of that plan are complete, the new Dayton Riverfront Plan will take development a step further to infuse more money into not only the downtown economy, but also contribute to a better quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“As we have identified the new Riverfront Plan, we see the opportunity along the Great Miami River in downtown on the west side of that river, on the Wolf Creek as it heads up into those west Dayton neighborhoods, along the Stillwater River heading up into northwest Dayton, as well as the Mad River and the Great Miami heading then out of downtown,” said Scarff.
In the Wolf Creek area — known as the community corridor — Scarff said development executed by Dayton Riverfront partners is expected to serve as a “spine” within the neighborhood, offering recreational activities and open spaces that residents can enjoy.
She said there are about 100 total tasks in the plan that are expected to be completed in the next 25 years. Some upcoming projects that are currently in the planning process include:
- creating a new Sunset Park across the Great Miami River from the existing Sunrise MetroPark in the downtown corridor
- laying back levees to create open space on the south side from Sweetman to Broadway in the Wolf Creek corridor
- developing the Connor School, a private K-8 school at Deeds Point that will serve 400 under-resourced students in the Stillwater/Great Miami River North neighborhood
- improving safety and accessibility at Stewart Street at the bridge with crosswalks and countdown signals in the Great Miami River South corridor
- building the public park at The Point in Mad River corridor
“Cities, like Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati, Detroit have invested in their waterfronts and they’ve seen that 10 to 1 return on investment from the private sector because they create such a desirable location for individuals and companies to invest and for businesses to grow,” said Scarff.
She added she hopes to see many of the business that will inhabit spaces in and around downtown come from locals who have an entrepreneurial spirit and are looking to open eateries, retail shops, nightlife locations and more. But while the Dayton Riverfront team looks to model changes after cities like Detroit, Scarf said Dayton faces some unique challenges not shared by cities whose waterways flow into lakes or oceans.
“Because of the 1913 flood, we have a flood control system that is significant, and so we have these steep levies. And so we don’t have the problem of having to reclaim all this abandoned industrial ground, we have the problem of connecting the urban grid [which sits up higher], to the river that’s [down below], and they’re separated by this really steep levy.”
However, she said that hasn’t stopped each of the Dayton Riverfront partners from working to create a more aesthetically pleasing, culturally, and economically-developed home for Dayton and Miami Valley residents.
“I encourage the community to get out and explore our rivers in whatever way excites them,” said Scarff. “We’re fortunate to have so many ways to engage with our rivers in the urban areas. Whether you enjoy walking, running, cycling, or sitting on a swing, you can do it along our rivers in Dayton.”
Scarff said many of the projects are being funded by grants pursued through the Plan’s partners and stimulus money is expected to be used for some portions of the work as well.
To learn more about the projects happening in and around downtown and how they will have an impact in your community, click here.