Wednesday September 27, 2006

Another Step

The Dayton City Commission voted to support the University of Dayton's bid for an "urban setting designation" on 50 acres of land that run from Brown Street to the Great Miami River. It's a step toward revitalization of one of the city's largest, vacant parcels.

The Dayton City Commission today supported the University of Dayton's upcoming bid for an "urban setting designation" for 50 acres of land purchased from NCR Corp. The property runs from Brown Street to the Great Miami River.

UD officials will now formally apply to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the designation. If approved, it will allow the University to remediate and redevelop the property in the most cost-effective way possible, protecting public health while at the same time spurring redevelopment on a parcel of city land that has stood largely vacant for decades.

UD has pledged to remediate the entire 50-acre property in accordance with the requirements of the Ohio Voluntary Action Program, Ohio's brownfield redevelopment law.

Earlier this month, the city's Environmental Advisory Board unanimously recommended approval. That endorsement followed Oakwood City Commission's unanimous approval on July 24. In addition, UD officials and environmental consultants have held more than 40 informational meetings over the last six months with various constituencies, including neighborhood groups, local municipalities and the Miami Conservancy District.

"An urban setting designation recognizes that if groundwater under a property won't be used for drinking water, then it's not necessary to clean it up to drinking water standards. The city of Dayton and the city of Oakwood both have their own community water supply systems," said Craig Kasper, CEO of Hull & Associates, an environmental firm that specializes in brownfield remediation under the state's Voluntary Action Program. According to UD's environmental consultants, no existing contamination from the property could impact either of those drinking water systems.

The Ohio EPA has granted 30 urban setting designations in the state, with eight applications pending.

"The University of Dayton is seeking an urban setting designation to redevelop the property in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner," Ted Bucaro, UD's director of government and regional relations, told the Dayton City Commission. "The University's efforts to date have been with a focus on redeveloping a long-underutilized site to the benefit of the University, the city and the region. Redevelopment of the site is an important component of Dayton's future economic development."

In December, the city of Dayton was awarded $2.54 million from the state's Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund to remediate 11 acres of riverfront land, part of the new parcel. UD also has received $3.5 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for infrastructure improvements and a $100,000 economic development initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In April, UD hired Burt Hill, an international design, architecture and engineering firm, to develop a master plan for all 259 acres of campus, including the new land.

UD officials have asked Burt Hill to complete the new master plan by next summer, with a development plan for the 50 acres as one of its top priorities. UD wants to create a mixed-use development, including academic, research, commercial, retail and public uses, spurring additional redevelopment in the region.

In the past five years, UD has completed $168 million in campus construction projects. A Courtyard by the Marriott hotel across from UD's new sports complex will open this fall. University Place, a two-story, mixed-use development that will include retail outlets and graduate student apartments, is expected to open on the corner of Brown and Stewart streets in fall 2007. UD is collaborating with developers on both of these projects.

In a new national ranking, the University of Dayton ranks third in the "extraordinary efforts" it makes to contribute to the renewal and revitalization of its surrounding community. The "Saviors of Our Cities" list recognizes the top 25 universities and colleges that are "exemplary examples of community revitalization and cultural renewal, economic drivers of the local economy, advocates of community service and urban developers, both commercially as well as in housing."

Founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary (Marianists), a Roman Catholic teaching order, the University of Dayton has grown into the largest private university in the state and ranks in the top tier of national universities.

Contact Ted Bucaro, director of government and regional relations for the University of Dayton, at 937-229-4158.