Sunday, July 13, 2003

Convergys could displace 5 companies


Relocation would have ripple effect

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CONVERGYS COVERAGE
SUNDAY:
Convergys: Council agonizes over take-it-or-leave-it deal
You're more familiar with Convergys than you think
Convergys could displace 5 companies

MONDAY:
Norwood fumes at incentives
Convergys first to use new extended tax break law
Amos: City's Convergys deal gives too much, gets too little

TUESDAY:
Close call on Convergys
Taxpayers want a bit of help, too
Convergys deal: Vote today (Editorial)
If City Council approves a $63.4 million package Tuesday to keep Convergys Corp. in Cincinnati, it could trigger an unprecedented shakeup involving some of downtown's largest employers.

Convergys plans to use the city incentives, along with Ohio's $144.2 million offer, to buy the Atrium One building at 201 E. Fourth St. It would establish a 1,700-employee headquarters and hire another 225 people over the next three years.

If Convergys completes the deal, it could force a relocation of at least five companies and hundreds of employees in a shuffling of cubicles from Fourth to Sixth streets.

The fallout for Cincinnati could be significant: The package to keep Convergys and its jobs downtown may force the displaced companies to find new office space outside the city, possibly in Northern Kentucky.

Real estate agents and developers are waiting anxiously to see if council approves the Convergys deal, signaling the start of the office search.

The spectre of a downtown real-estate shakeup prompted several council members to ask City Manager Valerie Lemmie whether the city will have to foot the bill for relocation costs of displaced firms.

The largest candidate is Bell, which would be forced from the 11 floors it rents at the 18-story Atrium One. Other companies in the building include Accenture, Salomon Smith Barney and the accounting firm Joseph Decosimo and Co.

With 1,500 workers at Atrium One and the adjacent Atrium Two tower, Bell has the most at stake.

A Bell spokeswoman declined to discuss the extent of the company's talks with Convergys, the city or other landlords. Lemmie estimates about 750 Bell workers would need to move in a few years.

But it could be tough to find that much space downtown. There aren't a lot of vacancies. Worse, it's rare to find contiguous space for a large company. Yet developers are reluctant to build downtown because demand for space is weak.

"Bell is the largest corporate headquarters downtown that is leasing space in one large block," said John Schenk, a commercial real estate agent for Grubb & Ellis West Shell Commercial. "It will be a big challenge to find that much space downtown."

The majority of Convergys employees now work at the Convergys Center, at the northeast corner of Sixth and Vine streets. The plan calls for shifting them, along with 300 people from the firm's Norwood call center, to the renovated Fourth Street headquarters.

That could leave several floors empty at the Convergys Center.

---

E-mail kalltucker@enquirer.com




ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Flynts' outrage just part of their fetish for ink
Howard: Some good news
Pulfer: TV infomercial Springer's latest 'silly show'

PAGE A1
Convergys: Council agonizes over take-it-or-leave-it deal
Convergys could displace 5 companies
You're more familiar with Convergys than you think
Tell 'em what you think
Stung online, few claim innocence
New laws OK'd online police stings
Protecting your kids while they're online

METRO NEWS
Parents' pride: All 3 kids in Iraq
Tall Ships set their sails for northern Ohio ports
Butler receives aid for seniors
Bicycle trek aids research, services for MS
Should records go on 'Net?
Residents fight shopping center
Mystery of stolen rabbit statue solved
Dad accused of giving son a lethal drug overdose
Episcopalians turn to humor to fill the pews
600 nuns hold regional meeting
OSU trustees pass second tuition increase in 3 months
Some suspects allowed to roam
Tristate A.M. Report

OBITUARY
David J. Pusack, 80, retired engineer

KENTUCKY REPORT
Blood shortage delays some surgeries
Cloggers, tiny dragsters, prize chickens and more
Lakeside Park cops suspect homicide
Body identified as S. Lebanon woman
A.G. says they called despite do-not-call
Dems draw up battle plan at saloon
$100,000 reward in attack on Ky. horses
Ky. teachers' salaries trail U.S. average