From the Print

Investors buy former Creative Memories building

A group of California-based investors purchased the former Creative Memories building last month and have already found three potential occupants who show “substantial interest” in leasing the available space. According to Russell Maas, owner of NAI Dayton realty firm and spokesman for the investors, the businesses have the potential to fill the building on Dayton Street across from the former Vernay manufacturing site.

The prospective occupants come largely from the area between Dayton and Columbus and represent a field of businesses in software development, nanotechnology, and composite material research and development. The businesses are not start-ups, Maas said, but those looking to expand or relocate from existing locations. Some are looking for professional office space, and some are interested in large, open production and warehouse space, both of which the building has. And one big advantage that has attracted more inquiry, according to Maas, is the amount of warehouse space that has heating and air conditioning.

“The majority of the space that’s vacant is air conditioned,” he said in an interview this week. “A lot of research facilities need tight controls on temperature regulation, especially for electronics.”

Maas declined to identify the new owners, Yellow Springs LLC, who purchased the 12-acre property for $700,000 last month. The group has no connections to Yellow Springs, he said, but shares the creative, cultural values of the village and felt the investment would produce a good return, he said.

About half of the 95,000-square-foot building is currently occupied by professional offices for Antioch University and eHealth Data Solutions. The remaining 30,000 square feet of high-bay warehouse and manufacturing space and 16,000 square feet of office space has been empty for about two years. Now, with occupants interested in both, the current owners are able and willing to finance alterations to the space to fit the needs of the occupants, Maas said.

“The LLC is prepared to move forward with the financing needed to making changes to the building,” Maas said, including possibly adding an entrance to the south side along Dayton Street and converting some of the warehouse space to finished offices.

In addition, NAI has sought out potential business incentives and financial assistance that could come from the state, Greene County, and Yellow Springs to encourage certain businesses to occupy the building. According to Maas, the Village is considering assistance that could include helping to renovate or alter the building in ways that benefit the occupants. One example, he said, is providing external business signage or structural enhancement to help each business located within the building to brand itself and be easily identified from the outside.

The Yellow Springs location has “a couple of very neat things” that attract businesses, Maas said, including its 10–15 minute proximity to expressways in all four directions, and the unique environment and human resources in the village. Yellow Springs has one of the highest concentrations of doctorate degrees in the immediate area, and the population of young people is also rising, he said.

“Businesses are looking for that.”

While the first goal of the investors would be to fill the existing space, the size of the property at the corner of Dayton Street and East Enon Road could allow for significant building expansion as well, which the investor group has considered and remains open to, Maas said.

“If the opportunity were to present itself to expand the building, we’ve already brainstormed where to do it,” he said. “It could be done on spec or if one of the occupants wanted more space, or even if a new business was in the market for all high-bay space, for example.”

The property was first developed in 1974 by Antioch College alumnus Ernest Morgan as production space for the Antioch Bookplate Company. The business expanded as Creative Memories until the company went bankrupt in 2008 and began consolidating its operations to a new headquarters in St. Cloud. e-Health became the building’s first new occupant in 2011, followed the next year by Antioch University. A Pennsylvania-based auctioneer and real estate investor initiated a purchase of the property in January of this year but later backed out of the agreement.

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