UD, Entrepreneurs Center join forces for Arcade project

The University of Dayton and The Entrepreneurs Center plan to join together to anchor the Dayton Arcade with an innovation hub, which they say will help reinvent downtown’s economy and job market.

The Arcade Innovation Hub will bring together entrepreneurs, start-ups, students, higher education and research institutions and arts, cultural and community groups to interact, collaborate and team up on projects and ventures, local officials said.

RELATED: University of Dayton could become Arcade anchor tenant, president says

UD and the Entrepreneurs Center plan to occupy more than 80,000 square feet of space in and around the arcade’s historic and iconic rotunda, said Scott Koorndyk, president of the Entrepreneurs Center, which is Dayton’s technology accelerator and business incubator.

The hub, Koorndyk said, will be a magnet for creativity and new ideas and partnerships.

“We hope this is a catalytic moment — a catalytic space — for our community to do joint innovation,” Koorndyk said.

UD and the Entrepreneurs Center have submitted a letter of intent to the arcade’s developers declaring they want to jointly occupy part of the downtown complex.

RELATED: City to contribute $1M to Dayton Arcade

Developers Miller-Valentine Group and Cross Street Partners are proposing a $75 million overhaul to the arcade that creates housing, offices, restaurants, retail and other uses.

The letter of intent is expected to help the developers as they piece together a financing package for the project, demonstrating they have commitments from major community players.

RELATED: Arcade seeks to blend complex’s past, future

The university’s and center’s vision for the innovation hub is a community space where people with diverse sets of knowledge and expertise share space and ideas and collaborate.

The arcade would house college classes, businesses, faculty and staff offices, co-working spaces and communal meeting areas, Koorndyk said, noting that this would dovetail with planned new shops, restaurants and housing.

PHOTOS: Dayton Arcade through the years

The arcade hub would help create the “live, work, play” environment that young professionals and entrepreneurs want that has driven economic redevelopment in urban centers across the country, local leaders said.

“There’s nothing like it in Dayton, Ohio, today,” Koorndyk said. “We are trying to create an environment where wonderful collisions (between creative people) occur, because that’s where innovations happen.”

UD’s plans to become an anchor tenant in the arcade were revealed by UD’s new president, Eric Spina, during his inauguration address Tuesday.

That plan assumes the project moves forward. The arcade still faces a variety of financing challenges.

But Spina said UD hopefully will be cutting ribbons at the arcade within a few years.

“This is a university that’s long been deeply engaged with the community in mutually beneficial partnerships,” Spina said. “What I heard over the last nine months from the community and the university is we should do more. We should double down.”

The hub will offer academic, research and “experiential” learning programs for UD students, as well as spaces for start-ups and angel or venture capital groups, officials said.

Event space in the rotunda would be available for academic and entrepreneurial programming and community events.

RELATED: Dayton Arcade eyes millions in state support

Developers also envision a community innovation center for local businesses and nonprofit ventures. Sinclair Community College has expressed interest in being involved with the hub.

The Arcade Innovation Hub could be reminiscent of other technology and entrepreneurship centers across the country, such as 1871 in Chicago.

Chicago’s 1871 says it is a “community” of start-ups, corporations and community partners that offers co-working space, private offices, meeting rooms, educational seminars and technical workshops.

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