AKRON—Smithers will be moving into a new headquarters by mid-2020 on North Main Street in downtown Akron as part of a collaborative effort with the city and others.
Renovation of the 63,000-sq.-ft. building includes construction of a new research and development building in the range of 25,000 square feet, with a total investment of about $16.9 million, according to Smithers. The new collaboration involves Smithers, Summit County, the city of Akron, the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, Team NEO, JobsOhio, Akron Children's Hospital, FirstEnergy and the Welty Building Co.
The building was originally the headquarters for the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, a collaboration of biomedical companies, according to Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro's State of the County speech Aug. 29.
"Unfortunately, not all collaborative endeavors can be successful," she said.
While ABIA's goals did not materialize, the building is still used by Akron Children's Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Akron General, she said.
The building, currently owned by the DFA, served as ABIA's headquarters for about seven years, with the original transaction closing in 2011 and opening after renovations the next year, said Jason Dodson of Roetzel & Andress L.P.A.
Smithers had been looking at its options for expansion from its Market Street location just west of downtown in April 2018 when the site was initially suggested, said Nat Leonard, president of materials science and engineering for Smithers.
"We knew we needed space," Leonard said. "We had the nice challenge of growing, and we needed space for operations. We liked the link of the biotech history of 47 N. Main, and a lot of the industries that we serve are medical and pharma-related."
Once the connection with city officials had been made over the site as a potential landing space for Smithers, "we found a group that worked really hard for a long time to find a solution that met the requirements we all had and overcame a lot of challenges. We appreciate the persistence to get us to where we are today," Leonard said.
The deal also includes two nearby buildings on North Main Street, both owned by Summit County, said Brian Nelson, Shapiro's chief of staff. Before the ABIA deal, the county operated its Department of Job and Family Services out of one of those buildings through 2016. It also operated on floors four, five and six of the ABIA building. ABIA itself occupied floors one, two, three and most of the basement. Since Job and Family Services moved out, DFA continued operation on the fourth floor. The remainder of floors five and six went unused, with Akron General using a portion of the sixth floor. Akron Children's has been leasing ABIA's section of the building, and has agreed to a 10-year commitment through the renovation.