Large downtown tenants to boost Dayton’s core

Sept 07, 2018
Business Furniture LLC, headquartered in Indianapolis, has signed a five-year lease for space on the ground floor of the PNC Building (center) at Third and Main streets. The company specializes in furnishings for business, government, healthcare, academic and science lab settings. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

A central downtown Dayton building that formerly housed PNC Bank will soon have two new tenants — the local office of the Berry Network and local U.S. Census Bureau staff.

The Berry Network and its 100 employees will have about 19,000 square feet of the building at 6 N. Main St. Census personnel will take about 7,000 square feet, said Tracy Rutherford, with Crest Commercial Realty, who represented the building’s owner, Olymbec, in the leasing deals.

“We are indeed moving,” said Sherri Kavanaugh, Berry Network senior vice president-client strategy.

The new leases not only spell a win for the building owner but are also a bright spot for downtown Dayton as a whole.

The struggling downtown office market has had a high vacancy rate, challenged by outdated buildings, landlords unwilling or unable to invest in improvements, and suburban competition. This means not just empty offices, but also low foot traffic to boost first floor shops and restaurants.

Olymbec has scooped up two cheap and mostly empty buildings. One of them, 111 W. First St., was filled by Taylor Communications’ 600 employees, with the help of hefty government incentives.

Olymbec then bought 6 N. Main St. for $1.1 million, property records show. The 111 Building was acquired in 2016 for $645,750, records show.

“They are willing to get them for cheap but they aren’t afraid to spend money to get them occupied, which is refreshing,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said Olymbec is planning to invest in significant upgrades to the building, including giving the lobby a face-lift.

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The Berry Network today is based at 3100 Kettering Blvd., Moraine. The Berry Network’s local history is long, stretching back to the founding of L.M. Berry and Co. in 1910, when Loren Berry began selling advertising in phone directories.

The Berry Network was born as a subsidiary of the Berry Co. in 1960. In 1986, Berry Network and the Berry Co. were acquired by BellSouth. In 2007, BellSouth was acquired by AT&T, and five years later, the Berry Network was transferred to YP Holdings, a marketing and search platform provider and publisher of the Real Yellow Pages and YP.com.

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Then, in June 2017, Dex Media acquired YP Holdings. Since then, Berry Network’s growth has accelerated, Kavanaugh said.

“As a result of our search for a vibrant and dynamic work space, Berry Network/DexYP plans to move from Moraine to the former PNC building in downtown Dayton,” she said. “We feel strongly that being in the heart of the city will put us in a great position to serve our clients and to fuel our future growth.”

Signs of growing confidence in downtown’s office market can be seen in more examples.

Beavercreek builder and developer Synergy & Mills Development bought 2 - 10 S. Patterson Blvd. and built it out for RSM, an accounting firm that brought about 70 jobs to its new home. It’s both an example of a traditionally suburban real estate firm buying downtown office property and a suburban firm moving to the core.