AIG considers suing US over bailout

Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 @ 3:13 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 @ 3:13 PM

This may be a case of biting the hand that gave you $182 billion.

The American International Group (AIG) board plans to meet today to decide if it will join in a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government (that’s you) over the terms of its 2008 bailout, the New York Times reported.

Sounds crazy, we know.

According to the Times: “The lawsuit contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal’s high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer’s Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for ‘public use, without just compensation.’”

According to the Hill, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) are among the politicians disturbed by the potential suit.

“Taxpayers across this country saved AIG from ruin, and it would be outrageous for this company to turn around and sue the federal government because they think the deal wasn’t generous enough,” Warren said, according to The Hill’s “On the Money” blog.

The ‘suing us’ talk comes just weeks after AIG released its commercial thanking us for all that awesome help in using $182 billion to save it from collapse.

What do you think?

Should suing us even be an option for AIG?

Contact this blogger at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

Honda makes big bet on fuel cells with GM partnership

Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 9:09 AM

Honda — a major employer in Clark and Champaign counties — has made a big bet on the future of fuel cell technology, an energy system that company leaders and analysts said could be the next phase for powering vehicles of the future.

The automaker, which employs thousands of Ohioans, recently announced an $85 million joint venture with GM to mass produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system in southern Michigan, creating about 100 jobs. Production could begin in 2020.

“With the ability to mass produce hydrogen fuel cells, we are at a turning point in history — like the invention of automobile mass production, or home computers and cell phones,” said Jeffrey Smith, Honda’s vice president of North American corporate communications. “It’s that important.”

RELATED: Honda, major Clark, Champaign County employer, sees sales record

But analysts said several obstacles — including cost and infrastructure — stand in the way of pushing the technology into the mainstream.

Honda is a major local employer, with about 1,400 workers from Clark and Champaign counties and about 13,000 Ohioans overall.

RELATED: Honda’s impact goes beyond manufacturing

Fuel cell production will take place in GM’s Brownstown, Mich., facility by employees of GM Subsystems, Smith said. It’s not expected to have an impact on Honda’s operations in Ohio.

Vehicles using the technology would be powered with an electric motor, and could be refueled using renewable resources such as wind and biomass. Water is the only emission the vehicles produce.

The agreement shows GM and Honda are taking a big step toward mass manufacturing fuel cell vehicles, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Autotrader. However, exactly how Honda defines mass production is still unclear, she said.

The technology has been in the research and testing phase for decades, Krebs said, but obstacles remain that range from the cost of the vehicles to building a refueling infrastructure.

For example, the Toyota Mirai, a competitor, costs about $58,000. Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell model isn’t widely available for sale, but is expected to be a similar price and has a lease price of about $369 per month.

Other competitors, including Hyundai, also produce vehicles that use fuel cells. Smith said the joint venture that begins in 2020 for the next generation of the vehicle will lead to lower costs for buyers.

For now, Honda’s vehicle is only available in California and it’s not clear how long it might take before it makes its way to Ohio. There are about 40 hydrogen refueling stations in California now, with plans to have about 100 stations in the near future. Honda began U.S. deliveries of the vehicle in December, and delivered about 50 units by the end of last month.

“Hydrogen fuel cells have long been seen as the silver bullet for lowering emissions and, depending on the source of the hydrogen, eliminating dependence on oil, particularly foreign oil,” Krebs said.

Honda is focusing on building its market in California now, so it’s not clear how long it will take before fuel cell vehicles are available in Ohio. Honda’s partnership with GM will allow the companies to address some of those hurdles, Smith said.

RELATED: Honda supplier to open in Springfield, build $10M new plant

“On the issue of cost, our ability to mass produce a fuel cell system will result in lower costs, thus greater consumer acceptance, and thus the growth of the fuel cell market,” Smith said.

Along with focusing on ways to drive down costs, Smith said the manufacturers will also work with state governments and public-private partnerships to address infrastructure concerns.

In the meantime, Honda continued setting a solid sales pace for its gasoline-powered models. The automaker sets new January records for total vehicle and total truck sales last month, according to information from the company.

The company reported total January sales of 106,380 Honda and Acura vehicles, a 5.9 percent increase compared to the same time last year and a record for the month. The company’s CR-V model led the way with more than 29,000 vehicles sold. The CR-V is produced at Honda’s East Liberty plant in Logan County.

Honda hit an all-time sales record last year, part of an industry-wide trend in which automakers hit a record 17.5 million vehicles sold.

Development plans unclear for fairgrounds

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2016 @ 7:19 PM

The Montgomery County Fairgrounds won’t provide the University of Dayton with enough land to build a new basketball arena, but the purchase opens a door to the type of business partnerships that UD officials believe could have a huge impact on the local economy.

Officials at Emerson and General Electric — companies that have partnered with UD in recent years — see opportunities with the university’s $15-million fairgrounds purchase with Premier Health, said Beth Keyes, UD vice president for facilities management.

Both GE and Emerson would be interested in seeing a few of the companies they work with open a facility or offices at the fairgrounds, Keyes said.

The 37-acre fairgrounds property is adjacent to where GE and Emerson built new facilities in recent years. Prior proposals for the property, which didn’t involve UD, were a concern to them, said Keyes, because they didn’t know how it would benefit them.

“They were hoping it would support their investment,” she said.

In 2013, GE Aviation opened its $51 million research center on campus and earlier this year Emerson opened its Helix Innovation Center on UD land between South Patterson Boulevard and Ohio 48.

RELATED: Helix Innovation Center opens on UD campus

No firm plans for the fairgrounds property have been made public by either UD or Premier Health. But UD officials said the purchase, like the 2014 purchase of the Marriott, reinforces the university’s commitment to GE and Emerson, which train UD students in aviation and climate technology.

Both research facilities are just across the street from the fairgrounds.

In a November interview with this news organization, UD President Eric Spina said while he’s happy with the GE and Emerson collaborations, he is always looking for the next partnership.

UD’s business partnerships with GE and Emerson are what first attracted Spina to the college, he said. After he received a call from a headhunter to see if he was interested in being UD’s 19th president, he said he checked out the school’s website and saw the partnerships highlighted on the homepage.

“Obviously it’s one of the first things I began to dig into as an engineer and someone who really believes in innovative partnerships where people aren’t afraid to do different,” he said.

More possibilities

Both Spina and Keyes talked about the fairgrounds being a “blank slate” of sorts for development.

While the property is not big enough for a new arena, Keyes said UD and Premier Health will probably look for a way to use the land to benefit both entities.

On Monday, Spina would not rule out a joint venture with Miami Valley Hospital, such as a medical-educational facility. UD does not have a medical school.

“We’re not at that point yet,” Spina said about a medical tie-in with the school. ”We’ll add that to the list though.”

UD and Premier Health leaders already work together, which Keyes said helped facilitate the fairgrounds purchase. Premier CEO and president Mary Boosalis and retired Premier CEO Thomas Breitenbach both sit on UD’s board of trustees.

“It’s very helpful to have a true partner when you’re two major employers in the city,” Keyes said.

RELATED: Deal struck to sell county fairgrounds

UD officials in the past have talked about the need for a performing arts center and Keyes didn’t rule out whether the fairgrounds property could house such a center. But UD spokesperson Cilla Shindell said there are no updates on any plans for such a facility.

The university has “a lot of exciting partnerships” that it may try to leverage if it moves forward with an arts center, Spina said in November. “We’re going to make certain we continue to support the arts.”

Growing footprint

The fairgrounds purchase marks the third time UD’s footprint has grown since 2005.

The university purchased 49 acres of NCR land in 2005 and another 164 acres in 2009 when it bought NCR’s headquarters. The purchases increased the size of campus by more than 75 percent.

“It’s very important for us to support our community,” Keyes said. “Like when NCR left, you know, someone had to step in.”

UD would have become “landlocked” by housing and a cemetery if it had not bought up adjacent properties when they became available, Keyes said. Without NCR’s land, the university would not have been able to grow some of its programs and build student apartments.

RELATED: Spina wants to boost UD’s national brand

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a former Dayton mayor, praised UD’s decision to buy the fairgrounds with Premier Health and said both institutions never seem to “skip a beat” when it comes to redeveloping the city. The fairgrounds purchase, Turner said, will help create jobs and will continue to reshape south Dayton.

“(UD’s) leaders have looked past the campus,” Turner said. “That’s been great for Dayton.”

Most Montgomery County homes lose value

Published: Sunday, October 05, 2014 @ 12:05 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 05, 2014 @ 12:05 AM

Most Montgomery County homes lose value

Property owners are still reeling from last decade’s financial and housing crisis, the latest property reappraisal by Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith’s office shows.

Fully three-fourths of the homes in the county lost value since 2011, for a total loss of more than $1 billion in the last three years.

And that was on top of the $1.6 billion loss in housing values from 2008 to 2011, during the worst of the Great Recession.

Not all of the news is bad for all areas of the county, but only about 47,000 out of approximately 185,000 residential properties increased in value, a Dayton Daily News analysis of preliminary data from Keith’s office found. The new values are based on sales in calendar years 2011 through 2013.

More than 40 percent of the properties analyzed — which do not include lot splits or combinations, or land that was undeveloped in 2011 and has since been built on — declined by 10 percent or more. Almost 17 percent, or more than 31,000 homes, declined by 20 percent or more.

While there are good stories to be told among the neighborhoods, the losses in some areas have been devastating, Keith said.

“For most people their home is their largest investment,” Keith said. “So they’ve lost equity that they would have used to do updates to their home. Now they won’t have the capacity to do that. Or maybe they would have used the equity to their home to send their child to school.”

Drexel takes biggest hit

The losses are so great in some neighborhoods, residents see little hope for recovery.

Take, for example, the Drexel neighborhood in Trotwood that is north of West Third Street and on both sides of the Trotwood Connector.

The 569 residential properties in the area saw a 56.7 percent drop during the period — the worst among the 412 neighborhoods with at least 100 properties.

The median assessed value for the neighborhood was $37,860 after 2011 Triennial Update conducted by the auditor, but fell to just $16,410 in the official 2014 reappraisal. The median is the value exactly in the middle of all values in a given distribution.

Joyce Steinmetz has lived in her house on Devonshire Avenue for 44 years. She said there is “no hope” for the Drexel neighborhood.

“When I moved here, well it was the Drexel area, which had a little rep,” said Steinmetz, who is 80. “But the people who lived here were from Kentucky and southern Ohio. They were nice, family people that appreciated what they had and took care of it.”

That’s all changed, she said.

“In the past 10 years, the drugs and the riff raff and all that’s moved in, and it’s just really … horrible,” she said.

Steinmetz’s 832-square-foot home lost a quarter of its value from 2011 to 2014, falling to an appraised value of just $16,730.

Her home fared much better than some of those around her, however. Just a few houses down at 143 Devonshire is a boarded-up bungalow that lost 82 percent of its value in the last three years, falling to $7,570 in 2014. Sixteen properties in the neighborhood had even greater percentage declines.

One property in that group, an abandoned home at 167 Crown Ave., went from an appraised value of $40,640 in 2011 to $3,990 this year.

Properties like these can drag down values throughout the neighborhood, penalizing even those who maintain their homes.

“It’s so hard on older people who thought their property would help them when they got older to sell and go in where they’re taken care of,” said Steinmetz, who took out a $50,000 loan on her property in 2000.

The plunging values and deterioration of the neighborhood has her stuck, said Steinmetz.

“I think there’s no hope for me and there’s no hope for this area,” she said.

Harrison Twp. suffering

A similar but not quite as drastic scenario is playing out in a neighborhood just north of the now-closed Grafton Kennedy Elementary School in Harrison Twp.

The 167 homes in the neighborhood saw a 44.8 percent decrease in residential property values — from $63,980 in 2011 to $35,960 in the latest figures.

The neighborhood is symptomatic of the entire surrounding taxing district. The 2,904 residences in the part of Harrison Twp. that attends Northridge schools fell 30.5 percent — from a median of $48,520 in 2011 to $33,710. That was the worst among the 53 large taxing districts in the county.

Residents say many homeowners left in recent years, especially since the elementary school closed after the 2011-12 school year.

Anna Vandenbrock has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. Her three-bedroom, one-bath single-story home on North Haven Way lost 38.3 percent of its value, according to the reappraisal. It fell from $60,340 to $37,210.

And she’s not happy about it.

“You don’t want to know,” Vandenbrock said with a wry laugh when asked how she feels about the drop in value. “You can’t put that in your paper.”

Actually, Vandenbrock is one of the luckier ones in her neighborhood. The house across the street is one of 146 other properties that fared worse. The modest home at 3961 North Haven Way lost more than half its value to fall to $44,110.

Vandenbrock has seen the neighborhood deteriorate during her time there.

“It’s worse now with the drugs and the thieves and people stealing and not wanting to get out and work,” she said. “I’ve had my garage broken into. I’ve had my house broken into….It’s getting bad around here.”

Vandenbrock bought her 1,025 square-foot home in 2002. Three years later her husband died. Then she got laid off from her job at General Motors.

Layoffs have a lot to do with the abandoned properties and plunging values, Vandenbrock believes.

“People just left their homes,” she said. “They had nowhere to go but either take the buyout or transfer.”

Vandenbrock said she’d like to move, but, “I’ve got no place else to go because I’m in debt on this house.”

As tragic as some of the losses are, opportunities abound for those who hunt for diamonds in the rough.

On Onoata Avenue, just over the fence from the closed elementary school, five homes lost more than half their value. Posting the biggest loss among the five was a 1,955-square-foot Cape Cod home at 2229 Onoata Ave.

The house, which was appraised at $78,260 in 2011, fell to $30,030 in 2014, a 61.6 percent drop. But now, nearly a year after it was purchased at sheriff’s auction for $16,000, the house is looking good.

“We had to gut the whole inside,” said Amanda Eshelman, who moved in three months ago with her husband, Jeremy, and their three children. “It was horrible.”

Across the street, Ronald Cantrell bought the house at 2661 Onoata, which was condemned at the time, for $5,000.

A handyman and longtime apartment maintenance worker, the 49-year-old Cantrell put about $5,000 into the rehabilitation, which included rebuilding the bathroom from the subfloor up, redoing a bedroom and repairing a failing roof.

“It took a lot of work to where I got it livable now,” Cantrell said. “And now I’m to the point where I’m going to start making it nice.”

Soaring South Park

It was exactly that kind of effort that — over many years — that has contributed to rising values in the South Park and other historic districts.

Together, the 1,875 residential properties in the 10 historic districts as defined by the county saw 14.4 percent increase in total assessed value. Only the Oregon District, which lost 9.3 percent, and McPherson Town, which declined by less than 1 percent, saw decreasing values.

The South Park Historic District was the county’s biggest gainer. The median assessed value for the 646 residential properties in the district increased by 32.1 percent during the three years, rising from $66,905 in 2011 to $88,410.

In South Park, the county’s largest historic district, only 35 residential properties — or about 1 in 18 — lost value, according to the newspaper’s analysis.

Brian Ressler, president of Historic South Park, Inc., the district’s non-profit neighborhood association, attributed much of the neighborhood’s resurgence to two businesses that have dedicated themselves to buying and rehabilitating homes there — Full Circle Development and The Home Group Realty Co.

“They have contributed a lot to basically creating a market where there wasn’t one before,” Ressler said of the two businesses. “They’ve been able to increase demand for housing in the neighborhood in a way that couldn’t have occurred before because they’ve been able to do so much at once.”

A number of other folks have also pitched in to rehabilitate homes in the neighborhood – many of which date to the late 1800s

Holly DiFlora, owner of The Home Group, said she and her husband Michael, who grew up in Old North Dayton, began buying blighted South Park properties in 2006 after retiring and moving back to the area.

“We’ve done 35 houses in the neighborhood,” DiFlora said of the rehabs. “We knew we had to do critical mass in order to really jump start the neighborhood. And we have.”

Longtime residents Pat and Susan Moran won’t argue about the progress, but like many property owners with increased appraisals they’re ambivalent.

Their two-story home on Bonner Street, built in 1890, increased almost 19 percent, from $101,300 to $120,230.

So, were the Morans happy with their new assessment?

“Yes and no,” Pat said with a grin. “If we were going to sell it, sure.”

But it also means they’ll pay more in property taxes.

“I think it’s good for the neighborhood,” said Susan, “but it’s not good for the individuals.”

High-end losses

Some suburban neighborhoods saw big gains and losses, but because the homes are worth so much more, the swings were much smaller as a percentage of total value.

Take, for example, the 157 homes in South Kettering that the county calls Dellwood Estates. The median value for those homes south of David Road and just west of NCR County Club dropped almost $68,000. But because the median assessed value was still more than $320,000, the percentage loss was only 17.4 percent.

Will and Pamela Lakoff saw their property drop by 27 percent, or almost $134,000.

They bought the property in May of 2008, when the housing bubble had yet to fully burst, for $512,500. In the latest reappraisal it fell to $359,070.

“That’s the market, and I understand that,” said Will Lakoff, a semi-retired IT consultant who moved to Kettering from the Washington, D.C. area. “We know we paid more than probably we should for a home. But I’ll be really honest with you, the prices here were so much better than from where we came from.”

Part of the reduced value came because Lakoff sought a reduction through the auditor’s appeal process and won. As a result, he said, his property tax dropped by 25 percent.

“That’s bad if I sell the house,” he said, “but it was good for my taxes.”

‘Not an exact science’

Experts say homeowners shouldn’t take as gospel the tax-appraised value estimates from the auditor’s office.

Real estate analyst Dave Dickerson said the auditor’s appraisal process is “not an exact science.”

“The auditor’s information is based on mass appraisals,” said Dickerson, president and partner of Miller Valentine Gem Real Estate Group. “They get a lot of information. They try to use as much market transactions as they can. It’s basically a template.” 

The auditor’s appraisals are also based on sales from the previous three years, Dickerson said — in this case 2011 through 2013.

“You’re always looking in your rearview mirror,” he said. “You’re using past information, past data to project the future.”

Mark Kottman, president of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors and founding partner of HER Realtors, said home sales are picking up.

If a property is listed at the right price and “shows well,” he said, they are often selling in 45 days or less.

“We’re seeing a lot more multiple offers on properties,” Kottman said. “We’re seeing offers where they’re actually coming in over asking, and we’re starting to see competitive bids again, which we have not seen in the past.”

Kottman cautioned about taking the assessed value to heart

“I tell them (clients) not to look too closely at the tax assessed value,” Kottman said. “It may be high. It may be low.

“What we have to do is find three or four sales in a given area within a mile or so radius to their property which are closely comparable that have sold within the last six months, and that’s what we base our pricing on.”

‘Historic time’

Keith said the last three three-year cycles, beginning with the last full reappraisal in 2008, have presented difficulties in appraising property values.

In all three cycles, most residential property values declined in value — the first time that has happened, he said, since the Great Depression.

“I’ve lived through them when values were radically increasing,” Keith said. “And now I can say I’ve seen a historic time when we’ve seen values decline.”

Sales rose in some areas of the county, which is a sign of a healthier real estate market, Keith said. But that wasn’t true for the urban core of the county.

“What’s bringing values down in the urban core are the number of distressed sales, the number of vacant homes, the number of abandoned properties,” he said.

In the city of Dayton, distressed sales such as foreclosures and short sales outnumbered regular sales by 4-1, according to Keith. And in “a large percentage” of Dayton’s neighborhoods, there were no valid sales at all.

“That makes it a little more difficult for us,” he said.

Some areas will rebound quickly, Keith said, while others have practically hit bottom.

“Some of those neighborhoods in the urban core, some of them dropped 20 and 30 percent this time,” he said. “Some of them saw 20 and 30 percent declines three years ago as well. So they’ve really dropped to the point that there’s not much more room for them to go.”


For an interactive database on how property value dips and climbs affected neighborhoods in Montgomery County, see our interactive page on MyDaytonDailyNews.com.

 Reappraisal process in a nutshell, according to Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith:

  • The auditor’s reappraisal began two years ago, working with an outside contractor, Tyler Technologies.
  • Digital photos were taken and a visual inspection was done on every property.
  • An “extensive sales analysis” looked at sales in like neighborhoods over the past three years, with emphasis on the last year.
  • Preliminary values were determined for each property.
  • Those values were sent to the Ohio Department of Taxation in the spring for approval.
  • After approval by the state, notices were sent to all property owners in July.
  • The auditor’s office spent August doing 5,900 informal reviews with property owners who thought their appraisals were off.
  • Staff is currently going through the informal reviews and other information to make adjustments to the values.
  • The final value notices will be sent to property owners before the end of the year.

 The appeal process in a nutshell:

  • Property owners can file an appeal from Jan. 2 through March 31. 2015.
  • Forms can be obtained from the Auditor’s Office at (937) 225-4326 or online at www.mcrealestate.org and click on “Value Dispute.”
  • Compile information about your property and comparable homes that have sold in your neighborhood. (Follow the instructions on the website.)
  • You will get a hearing of about 10 to 15 minutes before the Board of Revision.
  • You must come in with an offer of what you think the value of your property should be.
  • You will be notified of the board’s decision by certified mail. By the numbers $1 billion: Estimated loss of residential values in Montgomery County between 2011-2014. 56.7 percent: Average drop in Drexel neighborhood of Trotwood. 14.4 percent: Average increase for residents in county’s 10 historic districts.



Lyft now available in Dayton

Published: Thursday, December 01, 2016 @ 10:26 AM

Dayton area residents will soon have a new way to get from point A to point B. 

 Lyft, an on-demand transportation service, will launch in in Dayton at noon today, Dec. 1, 2016. 

The mobile phone app-facilitated ride-sharing service joins rival Uber in the market

The service is celebrating its launch by offering $5 off your first Lyft ride when you use the  code “DAYTON2016."  

HOW LYFT WORKS 

 

  • Riders use the Lyft app to request Lyft or Lyft Plus (a larger vehicle that accommodates more people).
  • The rider is picked up by a Lyft driver. 
  • The rider uses his or her phone to pay driver once the ride ends.

>>MORE: Must-knows about Dayton's Uber service