The old joke goes: What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum sucking bottom feeder, the other is a fish.
Thompson Hine LLP must think we’re stupid- saying they can’t find suitable office space in Downtown Dayton either shows they think we’re morons (with something like 30% reported vacancy rates downtown) or that the real incentives are that they don’t want to pay the City of Dayton 2.25% income tax, having to pay for parking (of course the cost of “free parking” south is built into the premium rent) or that they are doing work (or want to do work) for the power brokers behind the real-estate development at Austin Pike.
From the Dayton Daily News:
The decision to move the 100-employee firm to offices in the Innovation Point section of Austin Landing capped a five-year effort by Thompson Hine to find new digs, but came as a disappointment to city officials and downtown advocates.
Robert Curry, the law firm’s partner in charge, said Thompson Hine opted for the Miami Twp. office building because its layout will allow the firm to consolidate operations onto fewer floors. The new location also will put the firm in closer proximity to its Cincinnati office and provide easier access to parking, Curry said.
Hmm, let’s see, right next door is the former Elder Beerman/Reynolds and Reynolds TAC, sitting with a largely empty first floor, and several empty floors above- which is now owned by a company that also bought the parking garage directly across the street. Or, we could look at some other innovative options- like the Hauer Music Building which has 4 floors of ultra cool space, parking and is a short walk from the best lunch spots in town. They could have OWNED the building for less than they are going to pay to rent some generic space at Austin Pike. They could also probably pick-up the Patterson Kennedy Elementary School from Dayton Public Schools for pocket change- and have an incredible building to renovate and have all the space they need- plus a basketball court for lunchtime workouts (I watch the Good Wife- and it seems judges and lawyers always shoot hoops together). The location has plenty of parking and space galore. They could even build apartments into the building- so they could host clients from out of town and/or their expert witnesses. Imagine that powerful statement?
The Dayton Career academy is sitting without a purpose behind Requarth- and available- as is tons of space in the Dayton Hydraulic owned building that formerly held Woolpert. Both those buildings are in the area that was to “become BallPark Village” (whatever) and was supposedly on their map.
Thompson Hine has been a tenant in KeyBank Tower, 10 W. Second St., since the office tower was built in 1977, Curry said. Shifts in the legal profession — fewer clerical workers, less library space and fewer reception areas — also meant changes in the type of space law firms need, the attorney said.
“There have been a lot of changes that have made our space somewhat antiquated for our use,” he said.
Curry said timing also was an issue. With some major city office towers going through ownership changes, it made it hard for his firm to reach deals, particularly when it came to issues such as money from landlords for tenant improvements.
“This led to several potential deals falling through, and this eventually steered us to Austin Landing,” Curry said.
Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager for strategic development, said Dayton offered the law firm $200,000 in development funds to spend on tenant improvements. City officials also tried to move forward talks between Thompson Hine and Bank of America, the current owner of Kettering Tower, Dickstein said.
“We’re just extremely disappointed that (the firm) didn’t take another couple of weeks to try and let the Kettering Tower situation clarify itself before making this announcement,” Dickstein said.
Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said she was disappointed with the outcome, but having major office towers in distress situations complicated efforts to keep Thompson Hine downtown.
“We were hoping to get this done,” she said.
Curry said Thompson Hine began looking for new space in 2005, two years before its lease on what was then MeadWestvaco Tower was set to expire. In 2008, Thompson Hine signed a letter of intent to move to Ballpark Village, a proposed redevelopment of 40 acres along the Great Miami River near Fifth Third Field into housing, retail, commercial and entertainment venues that never materialized.
While it’s not the job of the city to get involved in real estate deals (although you’d never know it) they’ve built three brand new buildings down in “Tech Town” and offered subsidized rents- which make me wonder why Shelly Dickstein and Sandy Gudorf still have jobs? Where is the imagination to find a space in a city full of it?
It’s time to realize that the heavy investment in Austin Pike by the county, pushed by the Dayton Development Coalition and major real estate barons like Randy Gunlock with RG Properties and Mills Morgan Development are going to continue to decimate downtown until we get a true regional solution to our patchwork of “government” and “economic development.”
The first thing that needs to happen is a single flat income tax across all of Montgomery County that is divided up on a formula based on two factors: headcount and miles of roadway to maintain. Then, we may actually start seeing a more level playing field- and decisions based on real factors instead of the ones we’re getting lied to about.
And by the way- there are lawyers still downtown occupying very cool office space you should move your business to if you do business with Thompson Hine- why should you pay for their high dollar office space overhead in your legal bill? Send a message- call them today and ask if they really did this for the right reasons- it may not be too late to change their minds.