Friday, February 1, 2013

Fifth and Race awakes with dunnhumby Centre groundbreaking

Hundreds braved the cold yesterday morning to see ground broken on the underutilized space at Fifth and Race streets, soon to be home to the $122 million dunnhumby Centre.

When completed in December 2014, the new nine-story United States headquarters of rapidly growing consumer research company dunnhumbyUSA will feature 280,000 square feet of office space on the top five floors, separated from 30,000 square feet of street-level retail by three levels of structured parking.

Three additional parking levels will be provided underground, with a total of 1,000 parking spaces made available both to employees and the public.

The property has been a parking lot since 2000, when the Fifth & Race Tower was demolished for an unspecified redevelopment project, including an unsuccessful overture to retailer Nordstrom. In 2008, following a condominium proposal by Eagle Realty Group that failed to materialize, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) was brought on board to find a user for the site.

"Any time you're adding a new office tower to a city's skyline, that's a big deal," Mayor Mark Mallory said. "And any time you can take a vacant lot that was a parking lot and turn it into a world headquarters for a company in your city, that's a big deal."

Launched in 2003 with four employees, dunnhumbyUSA has occupied space first at 302 W Third Street and currently at The Offices at 444 West Third Street. Now with 650 employees, the company projects having as many as 1,100 employees by 2018.

"The selection of this Fifth and Race site for our new headquarters, the dunnhumby Centre, will provide us a high level of visibility not only in the city itself, but it will also serve as a modern, creative environment for our phenomenally talented staff," said Stuart Aitken, president and CEO of dunnhumbyUSA.

Originally announced as an office tower of up to 30 stories – including a residential component – the project has been redesigned in favor of a larger footprint, covering one-half of a City block and allowing the company to spread its employees over as few floors as possible.

It also allows the company to keep its headquarters Downtown and to stay close to its largest clients, such as Kroger and Macy's.

"We have enormous pride in this city, and feel genuine love for this city," Aitken said.

Project partner 3CDC will manage the parking garage and will own and manage the commercial space, which should help bring vibrancy back to a dead zone between the Duke Energy Convention Center and Fountain Square.

"We're creating a city that is getting attention both nationally and internationally," City Manager Milton Dohoney said. "This is why the fact that dunnhumby is growing their business here is so fitting and exciting. Their employees are fueling Cincinnati's growth as a 'hot' city."

Previous reading on BC:
Agreements approved for Fifth and Race (7/2/12)
New Fifth and Race proposal could reach 30 stories in height (6/15/12)
Amended agreement provides up to $12M for dunnhumbyUSA building, relocation (3/26/12)
dunnhumbyUSA unveils new Downtown HQ (9/30/09)
Lease would provide better access for dunnhumbyUSA parking (8/3/09)