One of the area’s oldest law firms has moved, staying downtown and leasing space that has been vacant for several years.
Roderick Linton Belfance LLP, founded in 1885, relocated north on Main Street, from One Cascade Plaza building to Akron Centre Plaza, after briefly considering leaving downtown.
“We really very quickly and decisively realized that it was very important to be in downtown Akron,” firm partner Robert Gippin said. “It’s important for Akron and businesses in Akron to be strong ... to the extent we strengthen downtown Akron, we strengthen ourselves.”
Roderick Linton Belfance took over the 10th floor of Akron Centre at 50 S. Main late last month.
The space had been vacant since 2006, when its previous occupant, longtime law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, moved to an office park in Fairlawn.
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs had occupied four floors at Akron Centre, and its departure from downtown was seen as a big loss for the city.
Gippin said the firm’s lease was up at One Cascade and the owner of Akron Centre gave Roderick Linton Belfance a good deal on the space, including an “improvement allowance” to pay for renovations.
The remodeling, designed by Alan Garren of Bath Township, includes a large reception area and a kitchen and meeting area with stainless-steel appliances and a marble countertop.
“The lightness and airiness is pervasive,” Gippin said. “It’s a very good, uplifting work environment. ... The old place [at One Cascade] was sort of dark.”
Gippin noted that the move to Akron Centre allows the firm’s 25 lawyers to be on one floor. At One Cascade, they were spread out on two floors.
The firm has leased the entire 10th floor, encompassing more than 14,000 square feet, which gives it room to grow, Gippin said. The firm hopes to rent out facilities, including video-conferencing equipment, on a temporary basis, to out-of-town attorneys. The federal courthouse is next door.
Warren Blazy, who represents Akron Centre owner McKinley Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., said McKinley was hungry to attract Roderick Linton Belfance and bring Akron Centre to 95 percent occupancy.
“That’s the type of tenant you know who is going to be there for the long term,” said Blazy, an Akron area broker for Jones Lang LaSalle.
Blazy noted that Akron Centre has attracted other new tenants, including software company Blue Frog Gaming, which is occupying some of the space that had been leased by Merrill Lynch. Blue Frog Gaming had been in Bath Township. Meanwhile, the Merrill Lynch operations, formerly at Akron Centre, moved to Bath.
Overall, Blazy said, the availability of what is termed Class A office space downtown is tightening.
“You’re seeing more of the IT [information technology], marketing companies want to be downtown,” Blazy said. “There’s a creativity, vibrancy downtown that really resonates with the young IT, marketing companies.”
The building Roderick Linton Belfance left, One Cascade, is owned by Arthur Goldner of the Chicago area. An official with the Akron office of CBRE, which represents Goldner, said the space the law firm had occupied is available.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.