He bought Dayton’s largest skyscraper. Then office work changed dramatically

Stratacache Chief Executive Chris Riegel bought what was Kettering Tower for $13 million in February 2019, a little over a year before the world of office work was forever changed.

Riegel, in past interviews, has said he has no regrets, although he has acknowledged that buying the building later probably would have resulted in a lower purchase price for him.

The building, now Stratacache Tower, dominates the city skyline. At 30 stories tall, it’s Dayton’s largest skyscraper. Its nearly half million square footage is 100,000-square-feet larger than the second-largest building, Key Bank Tower. It has its own ZIP code.

And while Key Bank Tower is largely empty, Stratacache Tower is more than half full, with a vacancy rate of 45%, according to data provided to the Dayton Daily News by the Downtown Dayton Partnership. Riegel said the true occupancy rate is closer to 65% and will soon be higher once new leases are finalized.

This comes as owners of commercial properties across the country are navigating continued challenges from changing workplace habits spurred by the pandemic.

Occupancy of downtown’s largest commercial buildings

Below is the square footage and occupancy rate of the largest commercial high-rises in downtown Dayton.

BuildingAddressSquare feetOccupancy rate
Stratache Tower40 N. Main St. 495,61455%
Key Bank Tower10 W. Second St. 393,0003%
130 Building130 W. Second St. 323,45458%
Fifth Third Center1 S. Main St. 313,47342%
Premier Health Building110 N. Main St. 297,00035%
Talbott Tower118 W. First St. 284,60079%
IM Pei6 N Main St. 216,40138%
111 Building111 W. First St.161,16477%
Courthouse Plaza SW10 N. Ludlow St. 160,00029%
Liberty Tower120 W. Second St. 97,50094%
The Lemberg Co.11 W. Monument 50,34275%
Total 2.8 million47%

Source: Downtown Dayton Partnership

In a recent interview, Riegel says he’s doing two things that help make his investment worthwhile.

First, he is investing in the property to make it attractive to clients. “We spent millions in improving the property,” he said.

The investments appear to have have helped attract defense contractor Tenet 3, which didn’t let the pandemic stop it from taking over the tower’s entire 23rd floor.

“Two, we have our own people in the building,” Riegel said. “So there’s energy, there’s vibrancy there because you have a lot of people in the building, and our own people are kind of that anchor.”

Having his own employees in his building forces him to keep skin in the game, the CEO said. His buildings house not just his tenants but his employees.

“We’re in-state landlords, we’re across the street and we’re in the building,” Riegel said. “So we’re right there.”

Amenities matter, he said. Stratacache Tower has a X201 room (named after a company Riegel owns in Canada), with “an extremely high-end video conferencing system,” he said. Tenants are welcome to use the system.

Owners in downtown’s core district feel downtown’s challenges, he said. One of them is homelessness, Riegel contends. He also argues that the downtown RTA bus hub is an issue.

“That hub has to move out of the inner core; it’s just a magnet for bad behavior,” Riegel said.

The Dayton Daily News reported in March that since mid-August 2022, Dayton police responded to more than 350 calls for service at and around the hub, called Wright Stop Plaza, according to police department data. That’s the equivalent of about two official calls per day, every day, to a site that already has a frequent police presence.

Most recently, leaders in Dayton are asking for patience as police investigate the shootings of two people Tuesday afternoon on South Jefferson Street between the Levitt Pavilion and the RTA hub — the second shooting to occur in this part of downtown in the last seven weeks.

Most of the youths who use the RTA hub are well behaved, but there have been problems, Riegel said.

He believes a fence raised on Jefferson Street has eased the situations somewhat.

“The fence is a good first step from the city to try to address the problem,” he said.

A spokeswoman for RTA said there have been no new complaints about the hub since March this year. She declined a request for an interview with an agency representative on the subject.

Riegel sounds optimistic about his building’s future. He declined to go into details for this story, but he expects a couple of announcements on the property before year’s end.

“There still is incredibly positive momentum downtown,” he said. “The work the city has done in the last 20 years to bring more residential, to bring that kind of revival, is very beneficial. It’s very much going in the right direction, which is great.”

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