Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 7:00 AM
By: Cornelius Frolik - Staff Writer
— Good Samaritan Hospital is closing, but its leaders say they are committed to a project that has brought $70 million in investment to the neighborhoods around the facility.
Good Sam, which is owned by Premier Health, is a central part of the Phoenix Project — a 15-year-old partnership aimed at improving and expanding housing, economic activities and community amenities in the northwestern section of Dayton.
Phoenix Project partners have demolished dozens of blighted properties, constructed new homes, upgraded infrastructure, added new amenities, lured new businesses and investment and developed a new northwestern gateway into the city.
Losing Good Sam, a huge employer, is expected to be a blow to northwest Dayton, but Premier Health officials say the next phase of the Phoenix Project will help ensure the hospital property is redeveloped in the right way for the community.
“We’re not going anywhere,” said Craig Self, Premier Health’s chief strategy officer. “We’re not like other businesses who made decisions then packed up and left town — we are an anchor institution, and our board takes that very seriously.”
The Phoenix Project, which dates back to about 2003, was launched to help change the image of the upper Salem Avenue corridor, retain and leverage economic activities in the area and improve the quality of life for local residents.
The project’s main partners have been the hospital, the city of Dayton and CityWide.
To clean up and improve the area, the partners pitched in money for transportation enhancements, acquisition and demolition of blight, development of new homes, a new neighborhood gateway and police patrols.
The city of Dayton invested more than $11 million as part of the project, and Premier Health (Good Sam) invested about $13 million. The project leveraged another $45 million in private investment, partners said.
The Phoenix Project will transition into a second phase called “Phoenix Forward,” which will focus on shaping the future of the 13-acre hospital site, said Self.
Premier Health’s board has allocated $10 million to help fund the redevelopment of the property. Plans for the site will be created using community feedback from public events including a community forum that is scheduled for March 22.
Plans for the site will be created using community feedback from public events.
Premier has not made any decisions about the site, and other than new inpatient beds, the organization will consider all ideas from the community, officials said.
“We’re getting a lot of questions about what we think is the right use and what we think the options are, and we really don’t want to jump that far ahead and bias the community or discount ideas that may be out there,” said Buddy LaChance, Premier Health’s director of real estate services. “We really want the community to have a voice in this.”
Premier will be thoughtful and purposeful about how it approaches remaking the site, and the plan is to come back with a redevelopment recommendation for its future sometime around August, Self said.
Premier will host host two community forums, as part of the Phoenix Forward project, on March 22. The first session will be at 1 p.m. at the Fairview United Methodist Church at 828 W. Fairview Ave. The second will be at 1 p.m. at Fairview PreK-8 School at 2314 Elsmere Ave.
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