dunnhumbyUSA Causes Bidding War in Seeking Larger Space Downtown

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor Less than a year and a half after finishing construction of a new headquarters, dunnhumbyUSA plans to move to a bigger location. The fast-growing consumer insights company is looking for existing office space or land to [...]

Less than a year and a half after finishing construction of a new headquarters, dunnhumbyUSA plans to move to a bigger location. The fast-growing consumer insights company is looking for existing office space or land to build a 250,000-square-foot office building.

dunnhumby is a United Kingdom-based retail media group, founded in 1989. The company employs more than 1,500 people in 30 offices in Europe, Asia and the Americas. In 2003, it set up a joint venture with Kroger in Cincinnati to form dunhumbyUSA.

dunnhhumbyUSA placed first in Greater Cincinnati’s Best Places to Work twice, in 2007 and 2010. It grew from 350 employees in late 2009 to 515 and is out of space in its U.S. headquarters. But with the reconstruction of the Brent Spentce Bridge a threat to the building and its parking lot, the consumer research and insights firm may have difficulty selling the building for which it paid $17 million in August 2009.

The company’s unique office needs could prove a challenge. dunnhumbyUSA wants large open floors, hundreds of parking spaces and room for a fitness facility and cafe. The 580 building at Sixth and Walnut streets and the former Terrace Plaza Hotel at Sixth and Vine streets are the only downtown buildings with enough space to meet its requirements. But it is not yet clear whether dunnhumbyUSA wants to remain in downtown Cincinnati, although the proximity to client and part-owner The Kroger Co., with headquarters on Court Street, will surely count.

Land to build on is also scarce in downtown Cincinnati. The Banks project and the long-planned skyscraper at Fifth and Race streets are two possible solutions, a situation that has started a bidding war between the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. County officials want to bring the consumer research and insights firm to The Banks, while the city supports the Fifth and Race streets site. dunnhumbyUSA is one of Ohio’s biggest economic development success stories. Its presence at either of the projects would help spur much needed development.