by Jennifer Sierra
Dayton, Kentucky’s Main Street Association hopes to fill the empty storefronts in the Central Business District with a new incentive package called CCAP (Commercial Community Advantage Program). While this program only directly impacts the Central Business District, the whole city would benefit by having the increased revenue to the city and improved look and feel of the Central Business District.
Dayton, Kentucky’s central business district has been empty and decaying for many years. Dayton has a 40% vacancy rate and an average commercial property value of $97,713.33. Average rent per square foot is $0.58 in Dayton compared to the $6.00 and $13.00 per square foot for commercial spaces for rent in Bellevue, currently. Dayton’s business district isn’t well suited for much because of the poorly lit streets and narrow sidewalks. Some see the area as dangerous, not because violent crimes happen there (they don’t) but because of the vibe of the empty streets. There is a perception of a low standard of living because of the condition of many of the properties. 90% of all property values in the CBD fall between $16,000.00 and $28,000.00.
If the CCAP goes as expected, it would reduce the vacancy rate to 10%, increase the average property value to above $100,000.00 and assist in preserving the historic structures. It also should promote the success of entrepreneurs. The timing is right for anyone interested in investing in Dayton before the city’s riverfront development takes off and real estate prices follow suit.
Some of the CCAP incentives include rental abetments which would offset the cost of rent by 50% during a business’ first 2 years and 100% of their third year; sign grants of up to $1500.00; a grant that would award a business up to $10,000 to purchase the property where their business would be located; and a 20% structural improvement grant allowing commercial property owners assistance with costs associated with any pre-approved improvements to their structure.
While Dayton, Kentucky‘s Main Street Manager is looking for businesses that don’t rely on walk-in traffic and are more service-oriented, they aren’t turning any interested business owners away. Dayton is exploring all media outlets to promote the CCAP program as well as providing classes for entrepreneurs that will educate them on the different facets of business ownership.
Interest in the program is surfacing. According to Anthony Cadle, “The Main Street department has received several inquiries regarding the Commercial Community Advantage Program. The rental abatement program seems to be the most popular program at the moment with uniform signage being second. Types of businesses ranges from catering and restaurants to professional services such as marketing and branding firms, CPA firms and a private practice Law office. Of course several prospective applicants have been unique businesses that would do well in attracting outside visitors to Dayton, Kentucky.”
For any business to succeed in Dayton, they would have to rely mostly on a customer base outside of Dayton. Much of Bellevue’s success in their Central Business District comes from outside of the city. The proof of that is with the local Italian Restaurant, Buona Vita. In a recent interview The Bellevue Dayton Sun had with the owners of that establishment, Joe Frommeyer stated, “90% of our business is coming from outside the area.” In another interview BDSun had with Kate’s Catering, a new catering business set to open this summer, Kate stated her clients are also based outside of Dayton and she picked the location of her new kitchen based on the proximity to the majority of her clients who are located downtown and in the suburbs.
Dayton, Kentucky has a lot riding on this program. If entrepreneurs take advantage of these grants it could be a turning point for the city and with the Berry Street access being built from the riverfront development, the new citizens moving onto the riverfront would have easy access to support potential businesses in the Central Business District. What once was a thriving area with bakeries, butcher shops, shoe stores and dime stores could once again be a bustling area. The clock is ticking though. At the “Meet the Candidates Debate” in October of 2014, Mayor Boruske gave the Main Street Program 1 year to start seeing improvements.
Cadle said, “The program timeline is 5 years all together. With the bulk of the financing being in the next three fiscal years. We will be collecting data from all applicants, both successes and failures. As businesses open and operate we will be working with them to collect information as to what is working from our program and what is not. We will be evaluating parameters such as occupancy rates, average rents, property values, and perceived standard of living. Of course program evaluations will also need to take place long after funding is exhausted. So ideally we should expect evaluations of the CBD at 5 years out and 10 years out. Long term data like this will give us the best understanding of the program’s value.” Main Street Manager, Anthony Cadle seems to be giving it 110% now. Cadle also lives in Dayton and is invested in the community as a property owner.