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Guest Jeffrey

Do The Collapse: Dayton Sksycraper Occupants South of Third Street

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And collapse they did, in the economic and occupancy sense. Structurally they remain standing though mostly empty.


Recapping the skyscrapers.  The old prewar ones




…and the two postwar ones.




And how they declined (as a group)…





Perhaps a better illustration is this timeline, showing how buildings drop out of the real estate market, via closure and conversion. The remaining open buildings are at just 16%-20% of their peak occupancy.





Investigating private sector occupants (dropping non-profits and government offices) by category one can see how the medical category dominates in the early years of the study period, but shrinks to insignificance.







Occupancy Trends by Category


Recasting the bar graph as a line graph so the trends will pop out more, the crash in the medical category is quite evident. This category includes psychiatrists, psychologists, optometrists and opticians, dentists, medical and dental labs, clinics, HMOs and health plans, and, of course practioneers and specialists.




At the end of the study period there are no practioners left downtown, which is a remarkably thorough culling.


Taking out the medical category some of the smaller categories reveal their trends.


The "Other" category is a grab bag of occupants ranging from beauty shops, jewelers, music teachers, detective agencies and watch repairs to subscription services, branch offices, manufactures reps, architectural and engineering firms, patent draftsmen and so forth (including obscure and humorous things like “Morris Letter Service” and the “Tele-Belles”).


This is the colorful and diverse mix of downtown business captured in the comix works of Ben Katchor and maybe Will Eisner in "The Building". As we're often talking about small business in "other" this category is somewhat spiky, perhaps in response to the business cycle as the lows roughly correspond to recessions after the big drop of the 1970s.


Not shown here, but if one drills down into the "other" the subcategory mix also changes through time, revealing the changing character of downtown work.





Legal, which includes title search companies, shows a big drop in the 1970s, then some stability. Perhaps this shows a shift from the small one-, two-, and three- man law office to the larger multi-partner practices, such as the ones that fill entire floors in 1 Dayton Center.


Real estate and insurance (which includes appraisers and adjusters) show a similar drop, but in this case nearly to nothing, as was the case with accounts.


Employment is employment agencies, temps, and headhunters. Finance is collection agencies, loan and mortgage companies, credit bureaus, and financial advisors. These categories drop, but are somewhat stable with a slow decline after 1985.


Government and Non-Profit Organizations.


Non-profits being trade and professional associations, unions, charities, and advocacy groups. This category of occupants, particularly government, acts as sort of a floor for building occupancy. In the case of the Riebold Building they become the only occupant, but they assume an increasingly important role in non-government buildings as private sector occupancy declines, approaching parity in recent years.  The implication for foot traffic is that the “users” of this part of downtown become primarily government & social services clients and bureaucrats vs businesspeople.


Though not shown here the phenomenon is evident in low rises in this area as government use has taken over formerly private sector buildings.






A Business Ecosystem?


It should be noted that what's measured here is not square feet occupied, or the number of people in buildings, but the number and type of occupants. Perhaps more of a business ecosystem, where one measures the diversity and number of types, and their habitats. In the case of law, one sees a collapse, then stability. For the medical category the collapse is near total.


What hasn't been looked at is some detail as to what category of business preferred what building (though this has been alluded to) and possible relations between categories. Drilling deeper would demonstrate that proximity plays a role, with little clusters of subcategories serving each other, and "districts" of like uses (like jewlery-makers) up in the upper floors.  And with real life ecosystems, the less diverse the more at-risk to collapse?


And then there is the question of where did they all go? Where did all the doctors and lawyers and employment agencies and insurance agents go?


Perhaps topics for future posts.


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Well that's depressing.

"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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The thing to look into, as a next step, is to see where the occupants went...did they disappear and go out of business, move to the suburbs, etc. 


It would be interesting to take one building as a case study to track how it lost occupants and where they relocated to (if they relocated).






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am i the only one to catch the guided by voices reference?


.ROFTL!  That was quite intentional!  I guess urban geeks are not necessarily pop music fans.

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