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President's Blog: From the Heart

A New Beginning for the Dayton Arcade

By Eric F. Spina

The mid-afternoon sun streams into an upper-floor classroom, offering students a magnificent view of Main Street from the newly revitalized and simply spectacular downtown Dayton Arcade.

I can’t wait for our students to hop on The Flyer bus and take classes in this vibrant learning space in an iconic building that holds such deep meaning for our larger community.

The wait is over. The University of Dayton and the Entrepreneurs’ Center invite the campus community, alumni, and friends to take a virtual tour and hear the vision of community leaders and developer Cross Street Partners at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 4. To join the grand opening of The Hub Powered by PNC Bank at the Dayton Arcade, click here. The Hub’s completion marks the first phase of a multi-year restoration of the 1904 landmark.

The Dayton Arcade — a collection of nine historic buildings in the heart of downtown, is part of the DNA of the city. Its overwhelming sense of place and history hit me immediately during my first visit just weeks before I was formally installed as UD’s 19th president. I found myself looking beyond the crumbling, neglected structure to envision its huge potential. Gazing up in awe at the soaring glass-domed rotunda, I felt goose bumps. Closing my eyes, I could picture this historic gem coming alive, strengthening the connection between the University and downtown Dayton, and teeming once again with vitality and great purpose.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I immediately knew UD needed to be a partner in the ambitious and complex endeavor to restore the storied Arcade and turn it into a grand stage for reclaiming Dayton’s legacy as a city of bold innovators and inventors. We believed that this could be a powerful site for student learning and entrepreneurial opportunity for all of UD.

That’s why we signed a joint venture agreement with the Entrepreneurs’ Center and entered into a 10-year lease to become the anchor tenants for the Arcade with “The Arcade Innovation Hub Powered by PNC Bank,” a 95,000-square-foot space devoted to creativity and collaboration. I salute Vince Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, for championing the vision, and Andy Horner, executive vice president for business and administrative services, for his creative work in making it possible for UD to join in bringing the Arcade to life.

“This is a huge project that will have a phenomenal impact on our students — and it’s a gamechanger for Dayton,” says Vince, a native Daytonian who treasures his childhood memories of enjoying lunch with his father in the Dayton Arcade, never imagining that one day he’d be part of the building’s renaissance.

As president and operating officer of The Hub, Vince worked closely with the Entrepreneurs’ Center, nearly two dozen faculty and staff, and the architects to create open, flexible learning spaces for collaboration and “creative collisions.” The Hub will house the Crotty Center; GEM, a nontraditional urban laboratory for the Institute for Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT) that focuses on social innovation; spacious studios for painting, printmaking, photo and graphic design for students; a satellite office for the Greater West Dayton Incubator; a student-managed café that will feature locally sourced menu items from underrepresented entrepreneurs; a “shark tank” venue for business plan competitions; and plenty of co-working space for start-ups that could either engage or be driven by UD students, faculty, staff, or alumni.

Place is indeed powerful, illustrated by “The Chapel Room,” a very special conference room that overlooks the Arcade’s atrium with its magnificent rotunda. There in room 276 is a gorgeous, glass-covered, long wooden conference table — made from a door that long graced the front of our chapel.

The symbolism is not lost on me. In the Marianist spirit, we invite people to come to the table. To all who enter, welcome.

Welcome to The Hub at the Dayton Arcade.

(Photo by Kevin Lush)

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