Delta Data, which has called Brookstone Centre in north Columbus home for the last 15 years, is preparing for a move downtown to The Lofts at Swift Mill.
The Columbus-based company, which helps major clients with their mutual fund transactions, plans to begin relocating to the complex at 1506 6th Ave. by April 1, with the transition taking about a month.
This will be only the second move in the 30-year-old technology firm’s history. It was founded in 1985 in office space just off Front Avenue and a short walk from the Chattahoochee River. The firm made the move to the city’s north side 15 years ago.
"We wanted to return back downtown," Delta Data Chief Executive Officer W. Whitfield Athey said Friday. "It was really the resurgence and vibrance of downtown that lured us down there, the investment Columbus State has made downtown, the number of restaurants available. We just thought it was more in keeping with a high-tech startup. We call ourselves a 30-year-old startup."
The company, which is moving from its current 9,000-square-foot Brookstone Centre office to about 15,000 square feet at Swift Mills, is also bringing 62 well-compensated employees with it to downtown. Athey said salaries paid to its staffers now average $110,000, with about 90 percent of the talent from the Columbus area.
"We’re going to grow a lot. We’ve grown 75 percent over the last three years, but we’re hoping to double in size in the next two."
W. Whitfield Athey, Delta Data chief executive officer, on his firm’s financial growth
"We’re going to grow a lot. We’ve grown 75 percent over the last three years, but we’re hoping to double in size in the next two," he said. "In the last two years we’ve added 15 positions. We’ll probably add another 10 to 15 over the next year and a half. So we’re moving quickly."
More than the downtown location, Athey said the unique layout of the Swift Mills space is what drew his company to that specific location. It has high ceilings, lots of natural light, and a wide-open floor plan punctuated with structural columns, inside a structure that once was home to the 1880s-era textile mill that closed due to financial reasons in 2006.
Albany, Ga., developer Pace Burt purchased the property in 2007, then began a renovation that was interrupted by a spectacular fire in 2011. About 350,000 square feet was lost to the blaze and, along with previous demolition due to renovation, about 350,000 square feet remained for the mixed-use apartment, office and future retail space.
The two-story building which Delta Data will inhabit has apartments on the second floor, with prominent Columbus artist Bo Bartlett working in a studio there. The 15,000 square feet that the technology firm is taking will leave about 45,000 feet on the bottom floor to be leased by other commercial tenants.
"Now that I’ve got one 15,000-foot user, I think the other 45,000 feet will fill up a whole lot faster," said Ernie Smallman, the broker marketing The Lofts at Swift Mill. He is with the real-estate firm Coldwell Banker Commercial/Kennon, Parker, Duncan & Davis.
Smallman downplayed the notion that the bottom floor of the building has been slow to find tenants. He also said there are only a couple of the 30 or so upstairs apartments left for lease.
"I think once this Delta Data space is seen by people, it’s just going to have a different feeling than anything else that’s here (in Columbus) right now," he said. I don’t even remember the last 60,000-square-foot speculative office building that was done in Columbus. I don’t think there has been one."
More clients are expected to visit Delta Data’s Columbus office than in the past as its growth and visibility ramp up. Empower Retirement, JPMorgan and Fidelity all use Delta Data’s services.
Athey said Delta Data won’t immediately occupy all of the 15,000 square feet it is leasing for 10 years, with a portion of unfinished space reserved for future growth. There are plans as well to devote a portion of the office to a public area that can be used by groups and organizations for gatherings.
The new home also will be valuable to the company as it works with new and existing banking and asset-management clients. More are expected to visit the Columbus office than in the past as the company’s growth and visibility ramp up. Empower Retirement, JPMorgan and Fidelity all use Delta Data’s services.
"All of the big guys are clients," he said.
For employees, the change of location will be an improvement, he said. Some are already contemplating moving downtown to take advantage of the dynamic atmosphere and easier commutes.
"I think the space is going to be a lot more comfortable and a lot more interesting place to work," Athey said.