The Dayton Arcade is once again “open for business” after shutting its doors about 30 years ago, and people involved with the property’s revival say there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the country.
The Hub Powered by PNC Bank, the arcade’s anchor tenant, hosted a virtual grand opening this week where developers, Dayton officials and local leaders discussed just how unique the space is and what the future holds when it comes to learning and opportunities for business and creative collaborations.
Bill Struever, principal and managing partner of the arcade’s lead developer Cross Street Partners, said university-anchored innovation districts and entrepreneur incubators have been an effective pathway to rebuild urban economies.
The University of Dayton and the Entrepreneurs’ Center teamed up to establish the hub, which occupies about 95,000 square feet of space in multiple arcade buildings, including the beloved rotunda.
Struever said the arcade is the “rock-star winner” of the districts he’s visited.
“I think (this is) the biggest on-site university program commitment in an innovation hub in America,” he said. “This is the launchpad ― this is just the beginning of rebuilding the economy of downtown, of the city of Dayton and the region.”
The hub offers co-working and co-share spaces, private offices, classrooms and print, art and design studios that will have UD students, faculty, small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, creative professionals and other community members working side-by-side.
This will have a “monumental impact” on the student experience, said David Marshall, assistant professor with UD’s department of management and marketing.
“Sharing space with actual entrepreneurs, investors, local business owners will energize the classroom experience and infuse the classroom with experiential learning,” he said.
The hub brings together all the services and support entrepreneurs need to succeed in one place, said Scott Koorndyk, president of the Entrepreneurs’ Center, during the hub’s virtual grand opening on Thursday evening.
The event included a panel discussion and pre-recorded videos from some of the people responsible for the arcade’s rebirth and others who will be working, teaching and learning at the arcade.
The hub is meant to help with networking and relationship-building between businesses, academia, creative types, investors and community groups and programs.
Eric Spina, UD’s president, said part of his job is to ensure students have the best opportunities possible, and the hub is going to be a “game-changer” for the university because it is a special place with the right people and expertise.
He said the university wants to create better experiences for students and improve outcomes while impacting the community in meaningful ways that promote the common good.
“We are a partnership university, and the name of the city is in our name,” Spina said. “We are so deeply invested here, and the Marianists are about community.”
The hub is expected to have between 200 and 250 UD students when it gets up and running.
Business ideas and plans developed in the classroom now will have access to resources to make sure start-ups can keep going when students leave school, faculty said.
The hub will give community members a place to work together to address unmet needs and improve inclusivity and “equitable access,” city officials said.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the arcade is the most “emotional” building in the Dayton community because of its long storied past.
She said she believes the rehab of the arcade is the most transformational development project in the nation.
Downtown Dayton needs a vibrant and diversified entrepreneurial ecosystem to create jobs and help the entire community prosper, said said David Melin, PNC regional president for Dayton.
The hub is “a place where ideas are born and connections are made,” he said. “When that happens, our community thrives.”