Hamilton Journal News

Arcade rebirth ties inventive past to future of innovation

- By Eric Spina Eric F. Spina is president of the University of Dayton.

Bruce Katz, a leading urban redevelopm­ent expert, calls the rebirth of the downtown Dayton Arcade “the most transforma­tive project in America.”

That’s not hyperbole. This once-crumbling iconic landmark is once again beating with new life and restored hope. In a stroke of imaginatio­n and resolve, the $90 million first phase of its renovation ties the region’s inventive past to a future of innovation.

The University of Dayton and The Entreprene­urs’ Center invite Daytonians to take a virtual tour and hear the vision of community leaders and developer Cross Street Partners at the March 4 grand opening of The Hub Powered by PNC Bank at the Dayton Arcade.

The three-story glassdomed rotunda has been refurbishe­d with

468 panes of energy-efficient glass. With plans for restaurant­s, shops, offices, event space, artist lofts and a “shark tank” venue for business plan competitio­ns in the atrium, the Arcade gives the vibe of a glorious future. This spring, Crafted and Cured, Café Blanca Noir and The Contempora­ry will open their doors in this space.

At nearly 100,000 square feet, much of The Hub overlooks the atrium. This innovation center is already pulsing with the anticipati­on of hundreds of creative people — from budding entreprene­urs from across the Miami Valley to student makers and creatives — sharing space, collaborat­ing and learning from each other daily.

University of Dayton President Eric Spina is already imagining the possibilit­ies of the Arcade’s rebirth.

I can envision students picking up coffee and a bite to eat from The Hub’s café, a student-run enterprise featuring a menu curated through the Greater West Dayton Incubator, before walking through Innovation Hall to

an entreprene­urship class, a capstone course in sustainabi­lity, or studios for painting, printmakin­g and graphic design.

Along the way, they might pass a fledgling start-up company, the satellite office of a Fortune 500 firm, and profession­als from every walk of life working in shared offices and conference rooms. In the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transforma­tion — an incubator for social innovation — students and faculty from a variety of majors will invite community leaders to creatively brainstorm new approaches for battling problems like the opioid crisis or food insecurity. In the L. William Crotty Center for Entreprene­urial Leadership, students will start their own micro-companies as they learn lessons from local entreprene­urs working in offices down the hall.

While university-anchored innovation hubs are popping up around the country, this will be one of the largest and most ambitious, thanks to the indefatiga­ble spirit of community leaders and the imaginatio­n and perseveran­ce of a team of creative, collaborat­ive minds who saw beyond the disrepair, worked through the complex financing — and envisioned a renaissanc­e.

It’s a renaissanc­e worthy of being called “the most transforma­tive project in America.” And it’s a renaissanc­e that’s here.

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