Dayton Arcade to reopen after 30 years; virtual grand opening planned

The Dayton Arcade, downtown Dayton’s “sleeping giant,” will awaken this week after a three-decade slumber with the grand opening of a new innovation hub that will bring together college students, entrepreneurs and other community members and programming.

The virtual grand opening on Thursday is a long awaited milestone for one of the most complicated projects in the city of Dayton’s history, involving one of the region’s most treasured and revered historic properties. There hopefully will be an in-person grand opening after the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

Officials say about seven previous redevelopment proposals for the arcade failed to gain traction and move forward, and over the years some community members lost hope that the arcade would ever reopen.

But major components of the $98 million, first phase of the arcade’s rehabilitation are nearly complete and preparing to open, including the innovation hub, new apartments and other amenity spaces.

“If you would have told me when I was 25 years old that, when I was in my late 50s, I was going to be involved in the redevelopment of the Dayton Arcade and this type of project, I would have said you’re nuts ― that’ll never happen,” said Vince Lewis, president of the Hub Powered by PNC Bank at the Dayton Arcade. “The fact that I have the privilege to be part of this project is just tremendous ... but there are a lot of people who made this happen.”

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The public is invited to watch the virtual grand opening of The Hub Powered by PNC Bank at the Dayton Arcade.

The event, which will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. online, including on YouTube, will showcase newly renovated spaces inside the arcade and will include interviews and videos featuring University of Dayton faculty, local entrepreneurs, developers and other officials who helped with the project.

The Dayton Daily News received a sneak peak of the hub on Tuesday, which fills about 95,000 square feet of space in the arcade complex.

UD and the Entrepreneurs’ Center teamed up to become the arcade’s anchor tenants.

The hub has co-share spaces, learning spaces, classrooms, a community kitchen and plenty of other areas that students small businesses, entrepreneurs, community groups, venture capital organizations and others will use.

The hub’s private office space is more than half leased, which is pretty remarkable since the center has not opened yet, officials said, and some companies started moving in within the last several weeks.

The hub has 54 private co-share offices and roughly 50 to 60 desk areas, with a capacity to accommodate about 700 members, said Lewis, president of the hub and director of UD’s Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

“These co-share spaces are really all about creating connections,” he said. “The idea of this immersive strategy between UD and The Entrepreneurs’ Center is to create connections between students and entrepreneurs in the community, start-ups and other businesses located in this space.”

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

In addition to the hub, the arcade will have retail and restaurants and 110 apartments, called the Arts Lofts, which will be spread across four buildings. Residential tenants should start moving in over the next few weeks, and all the apartments should be finished by the end of April, said Trace Shaughnessy, vice president of design and construction with McCormack Baron Salazar Inc., the arcade’s residential developer.

UD classes at the hub are expected to begin this fall, Lewis said, and around 200 to 250 students will take classes inside the complex.

The hub will be home to core entrepreneurship classes, some business courses and some art and design studios and activities, such as printmaking, painting and photography, Lewis said.

The hub will help students build relationships to the entrepreneur community while they are still in school, strengthening the local talent pipeline, he said.

Work continues on about 18,500 square feet of annex space in the hub, which in coming weeks will be filled by tenants including Sinclair Community College, Culture Works and 937 Payroll, Lewis said.

About half the annex space is still available, and there is also about 13,500 square feet of available space on the third floor, which could be used by one or more tenants, or it could become an extension of the collaborative spaces on the lower levels.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The arcade consists of nine interconnected buildings. The innovation hub occupies the entire McCrory building, the upper floors and basement of the rotunda building and parts of the Fourth Street, Commercial, Ludlow and Kuhns buildings.

The hub blends old and new, by retaining historic elements like original hardwood floors and concrete walls, but adding modern and industrial features, including colorful furniture and nifty light fixtures. The arcade first opened in 1904.

The hub has no UD or entrepreneurs wings ― everything is integrated, providing countless opportunities for collaboration, Lewis said.

“The space is extraordinary and the vision is exceptional and inclusive,” UD President Eric Spina wrote on Twitter on Monday, which was the four-year anniversary of the first time he toured the arcade.

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