by Daniel Downs
Have you noticed the empty space on Dayton Avenue where Kroger’s and other retail stores were once located? Xenia official’s Downtown Strategic Plan envisions the vacant site filled with townhouses and a mini-park. That is why Paran Developers of Cleveland purchased the land. They want to build those apartments, but council members are still debating whether it right thing to do.
I’m wondering why any city official would welcome another apartment complex especially across from Cox Elementary? Would it bring in more tax revenue? Would it create more profit for Allison Avenue businesses? Would it improve the residential area that exists on both sides of that vacant space?
Council members John Caupp and Dale Louderback addressed the first question during a June council meeting. Councilman Caupp said that renters do pay property taxes because those taxes are included in their monthly rental rate. By adding more high-end apartments like those at Deer Creek, Caupp believes Xenia would benefit by more tax dollars. Councilman Louderback, who is involved in the real estate market, disagrees with Councilman Caupp. He said “very little [tax] revenue is generated from apartments.” He also pointed out that there is little demand for more apartments evidenced by three unoccupied apartment buildings and no waiting list at the newly developed Deer Creek complex.
Although the City may get some tax revenue from more apartments, the relatively little amount alone does not justify more of them.
Looking at the Plan, I count about 44 rental units. If half of high-end apartment renters would buy gas from the nearby Sunoco station, some food from Aldi, pizzas occasionally from Cassano’s and Domino’s Pizzerias, and occasionally some prescription drugs, those businesses net profits would increase but not by very much. Using US Department of Commerce 2006 data, net profit margins of retail gas stations is about 6.5 percent. For grocery stores it is around 5 percent. The average profit margin of pharmacies is 3 percent and probably 3 percent or less for Pizzerias. If each of the 22 new residents purchased 20 gallons of gas each week plus cigarettes or food items, Sunoco owners would see annual net profits increase about $5,950. JB Williams claims retail profit on gas alone is only one cent per gallon. If so, Sunoco’s annual profits would only increase by $228 if the hypothetical new residents only bought gas. Likewise, if 22 of the new residents bought $30 in groceries from Aldi each week, Aldi’s annual net profit would increase about $1,716. Other nearby store would benefit even less. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Council could justify the building of more apartments based on any substantial benefits to nearby businesses.
It must be admitted any quality development in that ugly empty space would be an aesthetic improvement. However, an apartment complex towering between nearly houses would look odd. Like the residents who signed the petition against this development—which by the way, never stopped any such development in the past—the planned apartment complex does not seem like a good idea. Single occupant houses or condos would be a better design. This type of development might not give the developers residual income but it would be more appropriate to the exist housing.
There is another reason to oppose the proposed apartment complex. In the city plans, a recreational development also was proposed. Councilman Caupp said, “the council would love to have the property developed for recreational use. Unfortunately, no one has come forward to purchase that land to make that type of investment in our community.” The YMCA has considered building its new facility on the vacant site. It is understandable why there has been little mention of it. The Council, Xenia School Board, and many others are hoping voters will approve the plan to build new schools and especially the Under-One-Roof plan.
With various financial experts claiming the effects of recession will last several years, voters approving a $66.5 million bond issue is a very big contingency. There is no guarantee citizens will be crazy enough to increase their tax burden. With the apartment proposal not likely to ease their tax burden, the City Council should not approve any proposed development plan until after November elections. Who knows, the council may get its wish for a new recreational development.
Councilman Louderback is right; whether voters approve the bond issue or not, city council should not approve any plan until they know what the area residents want. It is their neighborhood; it is their city, not residual-profit seeking developers.