Rediscovering Downtown Dayton

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The Greater Downtown Dayton Plan was started and launched in 2010 and it has been the blueprint for the development of downtown Dayton. Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created both short-term and long-term, the leaders will continue to push the boundaries of the opportunities to better the city.

This past Spring (2021), the effort to create a downtown Dayton recovery plan was set in place. The public and private leaders had the goal of finding short- and long-term ideas and recommendations to set the vision for downtown’s recovery.

More than 21,000 employees are based in downtown Dayton and the absence of office workers continues to impact weekday vibrancy. The future of office is hybrid, but almost 90% of our employers say their workforce will spend more time in the office versus working remotely. The pandemic has proven your desk can be anywhere, so commercial office space must provide other intangibles to justify the cost to the company. With the renewed focus on company culture and teambuilding, the walkable, amenity-rich environment of downtown Dayton could be poised for commercial office growth in the post-pandemic world.

OFFICE MARKET IMPACT: The pandemic has fundamentally changed how companies think about their office spaces. Surveys and conversations with downtown employers reveal that hybrid work is the new standard. Almost all employers report that they will be coming back to the office, but with a lot more flexibility for remote work. Fortunately, this is likely to have only a minor impact on downtown office leasing – most do not expect changes to their offices, and only a small fraction (17%) say they expect to reduce their office footprint. Employers report that face to face interactions are vital, but also believe they must offer remote work flexibility to retain and recruit top talent.

CULTURE SPACE: While employers have realized their employees can be productive while working remotely, most know their company culture and sense of team has atrophied over the past year. If team members are only together a few days per week, using that precious time to collaborate and build culture will be critical. The pandemic has proven your desk and computer can be anywhere, so commercial office space must provide other intangibles to justify the cost to the company. The walkable, amenityrich environment of downtown Dayton could be poised for commercial office growth in the post-pandemic world.

COMING BACK TO THE OFFICE: Employers will be coming back to their offices over the summer and fall but emphasize the return to downtown will be in phases. Downtown CEOs will manage complex issues as employees come back – apprehension about returning to the office, shortfalls in childcare and other personal dynamics, and mixes of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. For these reasons and more, leaders stress that coming back to the office can’t feel forced on their employees, but instead must happen organically.

Analysis:

The Rediscovering Downtown Dayton project is one that wants to bring people back to Dayton as well as make it a more exciting and inviting place. It was brought together by the members of the community as a goal to bring people back together after a year of not being able to connect. A large section of the article was about office spaces and what the post working world will look like in this area. Different companies will be following approaches that will change according to what the pandemic’s threat level is. We know that it is possible to work from home but having an in-person space where workers can feel safe is very important for both the quality of the work and the mental health of the employees.

https://www.downtowndayton.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Rediscover-Downtown-Dayton-Action-Plan.pdf