By: Dan Shingler
Top-tier buildings tend to do best, which they say is likely why sites such as GOJO Plaza have remained full. GOJO Plaza had little trouble replacing a law firm that vacated 20,000 square feet in 2020, leasing the space to the Akron arm of the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and to the hardware wholesaler Banner Solutions for its headquarters. Williams said the two tenants wanted smaller spaces than the company initially offered for lease.
Don Taylor, CEO of the Welty Building Co., said his company has been able to keep its Fairlawn headquarters 100% occupied. Welty leases out much of that building. Although there has been some tenant shuffling of late, Taylor said he has been able to replace any lost leases.
“We’re full. The building’s completely leased. We had a couple of tenants move out, but we had new ones move in,” Taylor said.
In 2020, the accounting firm Bober Markey Federovich took about 17,000 square feet in the 62,000-square-foot building, while Huntington Bank took another 7,500 square feet, Taylor said.
He cited similar success on White Pond Drive in Akron, he said, where Stark State College created a vacancy in the Harmony Point Building, but the Hondros College of Nursing snatched it up.
Other office spaces, at the Harmony Point Building and in Welty’s big Bowery Project downtown, have seen less activity, so 2020 was a “mixed bag” overall, Taylor said.
“On the first floor (of Harmony Point), we had the Census Bureau, but they’ve since moved out and we’ve not seen a whole lot of activity there. And at Bowery we’ve got nothing,” Taylor said.
But at Bowery, its 4,000 square feet of space is a tiny portion of the six-building project, which also includes 92 apartments that Taylor said have been leasing well, and 40,000 square feet of retail space that has not. Residential leasing has gone well, and Taylor said he hopes the rest of the project will gain traction once COVID lifts.
“I think the space there is less interesting as office and more interesting as bars, restaurants and hospitality,” Taylor said of the Bowery District.
Looking forward, real estate experts expect a busy year in 2021. There will be more shuffling, but activity is already picking up, said Colliers vice president Lorin Schultz.
“As soon as the vaccines started rolling out, I noticed a huge increase in activity,” Schultz said.