Award of Excellence
Wright-Dunbar is a 20-block, 2.5-square mile area on the edge of downtown Dayton that has experienced significant blight and flight over the past 50 years. Best known as home to the internationally-acclaimed African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Wright Brothers, it has strong ties to both Daytonís black cultural heritage and aviation history. Despite its proud past, years of disinvestment have led to high crime rates and even higher home vacancy rates.
The City of Dayton joined forces with the local affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders and other private organizations in a $35 million effort to redevelop the community economically and culturally. Building on its proud heritage, the City has led development of the Dayton Aviation National Historic Park around the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop as well as of the Dunbar District around the Paul Laurence Dunbar Site. Daytonís non-profit partners have supported these efforts with a $1.4 million visitorsí center across from the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop and an Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
The most outstanding changes in Wright-Dunbar are the new and renovated homes appearing around the neighborhood. In all, 21 vacant homes have been sold for renovation, 26 existing homes renovated, 17 new homes built, and nine vacant lots sold for new homes. The influx of new homeownership has helped cut crime by 80% and homes that would have sold for just $10,000 two years ago now list and appraise for $150,000. People of mixed incomes, races and cultural preferences now live side-by-side. And the increased property values are translating into greater financial support for schools.
Without the support and involvement of the local Association of Home Builders (HBA), the transformation now occurring in Wright-Dunbar would not have happened. The HBA and other private businesses invested a combined total of over $7.5 million for the project. As part of this effort, the HBA entered into its first-ever partnership with area minority contractors to build and rehabilitate many of the houses in the neighborhood. It then co-sponsored with the City an event called "Citrama," a 10-day home show of Wright-Dunbar that ultimately attracted more than 17,000 regional and state visitors to the neighborhood.
Wright-Dunbarís ultimate success comes from a renewed community. The greatly enhanced environment is encouraging an ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood, which in turn is sparking a growth in small businesses in the area. With a proud heritage, Wright-Dunbar can now look forward to a bright future.
For more information, please contact:
Thomas J. Biedenharn, Director of Public Affairs
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352