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Old 05-27-2009, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Downtown Dayton, Ohio
116 posts, read 333,343 times
Reputation: 72

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Hi all - I just joined the forum after reading several posts from others who are either looking for or giving advice on good places to live in Dayton, OH. I've seen several posts that mention the urban core of Dayton - some have positive things to say, others... well, not so much. As somebody who has lived in Downtown Dayton for almost 6 years and is very involved with the community as well as efforts to improve our downtown, I can provide an experienced point of view when it comes to living in the city - specifically the downtown area.

First, I should say that I try to stay away from the urban vs suburban comparison. One is not necessarily better than the other, they are simply different lifestyles and which you choose depends on your lifestyle. Comparing downtown to the suburbs is apples to oranges, and it probably makes more sense to compare downtowns to one another. While I'm certainly willing to join that conversation (as I've lived in the urban cores of Chicago, St. Petersburg and now Dayton), I'd like to keep this conversation on Downtown Dayton as a way to help those who are planning on moving here (likely because of a job or family), and specifically those who are looking for an urban-living experience. If you're looking for suburban living then you may wish to read no further, but I will say that Dayton does have very good suburbs that are relatively inexpensive and offer great schools, nice homes and convenient shopping.

Downtown Dayton includes several districts and neighborhoods including the Central Business District (CBD), Webster Station and several historic districts including Oregon District, St. Anne's Hill, South Park, Grafton Hill, McPherson Town, Wright-Dunbar and Dayton View. Each of these neighborhoods is distinct and offers a different flavor, and some are considered better than others. Most are also the most desirable city neighborhoods compared to the rest of the city, except for places like Patterson Park and Forest Ridge/Quail Hollow/Pheasant Hill which are all suburban-style neighborhoods.

For background info - I live in a warehouse loft conversion with my wife and (almost) two year old daughter in the CBD/Webster Station and I know the Oregon District and South Park very well; the others I have varying amounts of knowledge on but I know people who live in all of them. I also work downtown, in a small office next door to my condo. Full disclosure - I am a downtown advocate and thus biased, but I will give you accurate opinions - even if some are negative. No place is perfect, and neither is Dayton.

To keep from writing one super-long boring post (if it isn't too late! ), I'll follow-up with future posts about specific topics about living downtown. If you have a specific question then please post it here and I'll respond. I also hope that others who have experience (positive or negative) provide their insights, but I hope others who have never lived in the city will keep from bashing it unnecessarily. As I said, Dayton is far from perfect but it is also far from being as bad as many people believe. See the earlier post "Not Nearly the Hellhole I Expected" - that title made me laugh!
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:49 PM
 
9 posts, read 21,190 times
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Hi Billy, I have a question what parts of downtown do you think are safer than the others as in break ins, shootings, drug traffic. Most people I talk to about moving to Dayton think the downtown area is not safe and I understand from this board that a lot of people misunderstand the area. The two districts I am looking at the most are Oregon and South Park are there parts of those neighborhoods that a younger 20 something male wouldn't feel comfortable walking around at night without feeling safe?
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:05 AM
 
1 posts, read 4,628 times
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I live in South Park and work at Wright-Patterson. South park is a great place to live, for me and where I'm at right now. I rent in South Park and feel very safe here. I go for walks to University of Dayton and downtown almost every day and have never felt uncomfortable or scared. The only place I drive is to work ( 6-7 miles or 10-15 minute commute) and to the grocery up the street. I feel there is a nice mix of younger and older residents in my neighborhood.

South Park is very connected to downtown, and I think the rents/housing prices are more affordable (compared to Oregon or the suburbs) for someone who is just starting a career or job in Dayton. I think Wright-Pat jobs are some of the best in Dayton/Ohio because of the quality of life here, and the very low cost of living. I pay 220 a month for a 1600 sq ft house I share with two roomates. It is 1/2 a double, and was built in the 1870's. Our bills are around 50 a month each , except for winter when the gas bill gets higher. It's a great value.

Dayton is not perfect, but neither is Columbus or Chicago, New York, etc... I don't know if I want to be here forever, but it is a great place to start an adult life. I grew up in Dayton and went to college at Ohio University, but moved back home after jobs became tight in my field (Art Education) I applied for a position somewhat outside my field at Wright-Pat, and got the job. I'm able to save some money, and enjoy all the great things downtown living has to offer. Cheap, or often free recreation is the main one. Wonderful Metro parks and bike ways, fun local bands, and a great little bar within walking distance. (South Park Tavern!) I'm not sure I want to invest in a house/home just yet, and my student loans will necessitate renting for a while. I can also walk 10 minute to the Oregon for a fun night life.

The other neighborhoods around SP are nice as well. Oregon has beautiful houses, as does St. Annes Hill. Walnut Hills and Belmont are nice, though slightly more removed from downtown. I think Twin Towers will come up as there is more investment in the area. The suburbs just aren't for me anymore. I grew up there and when I moved back, I spent most of my money on commuting to my jobs at the time or going downtown to meet with friends.

It's not perfect, but its a great place to start. Dayton has it's problems, no doubt. It can be frustrating at times, but I wouldn't want to move to a bigger city and work twice as hard for tiny apartment and no personal life. Maybe after I'm more established and the job market picks up a bit. Even then it will be hard to leave my friends and connections I've made in Dayton. You can really be your own person here.
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Downtown Dayton, Ohio
116 posts, read 333,343 times
Reputation: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio2112 View Post
Hi Billy, I have a question what parts of downtown do you think are safer than the others as in break ins, shootings, drug traffic. Most people I talk to about moving to Dayton think the downtown area is not safe and I understand from this board that a lot of people misunderstand the area. The two districts I am looking at the most are Oregon and South Park are there parts of those neighborhoods that a younger 20 something male wouldn't feel comfortable walking around at night without feeling safe?
I'm glad you brought that up, and ironically crime was going to be the subject of my next post....

There seems to be a lot of confusion throughout the region as to the difference between downtown and the rest of Dayton. Many simply don't really have much experience with the city and so when they see all the crime reports on the news they may tend to assume that this is in or close to downtown. But while Dayton is a smaller city, it is still large enough to have good areas that are unaffected by the bad areas. While there are definitely bad areas outside of the downtown area (especially the west side where the majority of violent crime occurs), the downtown area is much different.

The Downtown Central Business District is statistically the safest district in the entire city, and crime is actually VERY low. I've lived here for almost six years and the only problem I've ever had is a stolen bike from my condo basement. And I do walk around downtown every day and night since I have a yellow lab that requires at least three walks per day (and often gets many more).

Now, even within the small CBD there are quieter areas than others; the difference between just two or three blocks can be significant. I live in the Cooper Park neighborhood and only issues we have tend to relate to homeless in the park and litter, which shouldn't be confused with crime issues. The bus hub at Third and Main is often talked about as a rough corner, but that doesn't effect my neighborhood at all. And while I'm sure crime like drug dealing and such does occur there I think the real issue with many folks is the concentration of black folks there. The Dayton Region is very segregated and I've come to learn that many white people are simply uncomfortable around black people. Sad, but true.

The problem with the CBD is that the streets tend to be empty on most nights since the night life tends to be in the Oregon District. And no matter how statistically safe an area is, if you're walking down a deserted downtown street you will probably feel uncomfortable, especially if you aren't that familiar with the area. I'm involved with efforts to bring more vibrancy back to our downtown streets, and that includes more housing opportunities, creating more sense of place and making downtown more bike and pedestrian friendly. We should see some significant results within the next year.

As for the surrounding historic districts, most are relatively safe as in you're not likely to get mugged if you walk down the street, but each does experience varying levels of non-violent property crime (car break-ins, etc.). Really no different than urban neighborhoods in any other city, and hell even the best suburbs have that kind of crime. Many of the historic districts have very strong neighborhood associations and neighbors who know and look out for each other. South Park is definitely one of the strongest examples of this (as you can see from jpatter's post), and Oregon District, St. Anne's Hill and McPherson Town are also very strong communities.

I strongly suggest that if you are considering living in downtown or one of the urban historic districts, you actually talk to people that live there rather than rely on what friends, family and work colleagues tell you (or warn you about). While they think they have the best intentions when telling you to stay clear of the city, they rarely have a real understanding of how it actually is in the city. And remember, people who prefer to live in the suburbs are much more likely to have negative opinions on city living and may simply make the common mistake of assuming that the entire city must be dangerous because all the crime reports they see on the news come from the city.

Bottom line - if you are already a city person, you prefer urban living and you're relocating to the Dayton Region then there is absolutely no reason to disregard the Downtown Dayton area.
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Old 05-28-2009, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Dayton Ohio
104 posts, read 271,578 times
Reputation: 70
Ohio 2112 - this is going to start out sounding like I'm trying to fix you up with women, but stay with me for a minute. One of the fascinating things about South Park is the number of single women of all ages living there. Single, never married, divorced, widows, you name it. What that tells me is they wouldn't live there if they didn't feel safe.

What we usually see in South Park are "crimes of opportunity" - meaning someone leaves something valuable in sight in their car (iPod, laptop, GPS, briefcase, change/cash) that a passerby sees and breaks into the car for. In other words, you don't have someone breaking into every car on a street, just those that offer temptation. I live in a very nice neighborhood in Beavercreek and we had two garage and three car break ins last summer for the same reasons. Oh, and a bank a half mile away was robbed twice in as many weeks. It happens everywhere. The media just tends to pull stuff from Dayton's police scanners vs surrounding communities, so it gets more coverage. What Billy said above is also very true - most of the violent crime in Dayton is centered in PARTS of the west side.

Occasionally we'll have houses with lots of "two minute" visitors and we immediately turn to our two CBOs - Community Based Officers. Miami Valley Hospital covers the salaries of two Dayton police officers, Justin and Shawn, who regularly patrol South Park, Fairgrounds and Rubicon neighborhoods - all adjacent to MVH. If we suspect anything, we call Justin & Shawn, and they do a "knock and advise" which means they go to the house and tell them neighbors suspect drug activity and they are being advised to knock it off or they will be watched very closely.

Dayton also has a nuisance ordinance. If there is a drug arrest at a property, they get a warning. If it happens a second time, the landlord must give a 72 hour eviction notice. Third time and the house is boarded up and utilities are shut off and it cannot be rented for a year. It rarely gets to the 3rd offense, in fact, I can't think of any occasions of that happening in South Park.

More often than not, the knock & advise will squelch activity - they don't want to be watched. And more often than not, the characters involved are not major dealers, they sell enough to friends to cover their habit. They're not a threat to anyone but themselves.

The bottom line is between the quality of the neighbors, the two CBOs and the fact everyone looks out for each other, a lot of single women feel safe living in the neighborhood, so you should to!
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:12 PM
 
1,245 posts, read 3,346,762 times
Reputation: 547
^Great points on this thread, many of whicu I have been advocating for a while. This thread is really a great starting point for many moving to the area that want the urban amentities and lifestyle. Moderators, could we get it stickeyed?
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:22 PM
 
Location: Downtown Dayton, Ohio
116 posts, read 333,343 times
Reputation: 72
^Thanks Daytonnatian - just doing what I can...

This next post is about public schools. But rather than duplicate what I've already written elsewhere, I'll just provide a couple of links:

What about the public schools? | Dayton MostMetro (http://www.daytonmostmetro.com/index.php/2009/05/18/what-about-the-public-schools/ - broken link)

Downtown Dayton - Center of Educational Excellence? | Dayton MostMetro (http://www.daytonmostmetro.com/index.php/2009/04/05/downtown-dayton-education/ - broken link)

Bottom line: for many, public school quality is a major factor in deciding where to live. But it is NOT a factor for many others. The City of Dayton DOES have some quality public schools, and just as importantly - it has options and alternatives to public schools.
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:28 AM
 
Location: Dayton, OH
1,225 posts, read 3,879,007 times
Reputation: 525
Quote:
Most people I talk to about moving to Dayton think the downtown area is not safe and I understand from this board that a lot of people misunderstand the area.
They do.

When people say downtown is not safe (downtown proper) they mean there is a large visible congregation of black people there. White people associate black people with crime (one of the cultural stereotypes thats floating around in our society), and when they see alot of black people they think "high crime risk".

The reason there is a lot of black people downtown is because one street, Main Street, is, or was, the major bus transfer point, and the high volume routes serve predominantly black neighborhoods.

So its a perceptual issue founded on cultural stereotype, not fact.
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Downtown Dayton, Ohio
116 posts, read 333,343 times
Reputation: 72
^ there are two angles to the Third & Main situation. Yes, there are MANY people in this region that would rather not have to deal with anybody of a different race than theirs. It is like that everywhere but in Southwest Ohio I've noticed it a bit more. But I'll also say that while I've never been scared walking past Third & Main (I've been in the RTA hub building several times for meetings and such), I do understand why some people would be uncomfortable. There are many among the crowds that can get rowdy, rude and loud - yelling profanities and just really making it uncomfortable for others. The sad thing is that the majority of people there are just minding their own business waiting for the bus so they can get to or from work, but all it takes is a few knuckleheads to ruin it for all. I've always called it a matter of having class, which to me has nothing at all to do with how much money you have but rather has everything to do with how you conduct yourself.

Urban dwellers in any city understand that they will likely encounter many people on the streets that don't exactly exude class, but they know how to tune things like that out. That doesn't mean that urbanites are never annoyed by such behavior, but they just aren't as sensitive to it. And urbanites are more able to differentiate between people on the street that are just a minor annoyance and those who pose an actual threat. I'll say that many urbanites actually embrace the fact that the streets are full of characters - people that are just different and maybe entertaining to watch. It is those characters that make a city a city, though there is often a fine line between being a character and just being annoying.
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Dayton Ohio
104 posts, read 271,578 times
Reputation: 70
I think I posted this elsewhere, but Dayton has always been very racially divided geographically. Whites tends to live south & east; blacks tend to live west & north. I've lived here all my life, but sometimes it still catches me by surprise if I see a lot of blacks on the east side; just like I'm sure it stops them in their tracks if they see a lot of whites on the west side. It's not a BAD thing, it's just out of the ordinary so it kind of makes you stop and take notice.

Most of the surbanites you might hear complaining about downtown not being safe will almost always be white and it's because, like Jeffery T said, they associate blacks with crime. It's a shame, but it's not malicious. It's based in a fear of the unknown vs a hatred of someone different.

Being involved in DaytonCREATE, a Richard Florida Creative Class Initiative in Dayton, we realize young creatives crave diversity. The biggest reason is because you get different perspectives which ultimately leads to better decisions. Different cultures bring different perspectives, problem solving and creative thinking skills to the table. If everyone you live around looks, thinks and votes just like you, you're going to fall into the group think trap. TYPICALLY, you're more likely to find that diversity in an urban market than a suburban one...or around universities which are naturally more culturally diverse.

It all boils down to what type of life experience you are looking for. I have a friend who lives in Oakwood because she wants her kids to go to school with people who look like them. I'm not sure how that prepares them for life in the real world, but that's her perogative.
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