Walking into Neyer Properties’ headquarters at the $100-million Keystone Parke in Evanston, many visitors expect to be greeted with that new-home smell. What they smell instead, however, is ... nothing.

Exactly how Dan Neyer planned it.

The president and CEO of Neyer Properties, a privately owned construction and development company, designed Keystone Parke as the region’s first green office campus. Instead of smelling the toxins most people associate with a “new” smell, visitors smell nothing at all when they walk into the headquarters building. They also step into a facility that’s low on energy and water consumption and made of recycled materials, as well as outfitted with bamboo and stone flooring, plenty of windows to let in natural light, and motion censors that activate lights when someone steps into a room.

The 68,000-square-foot building is the first of four office buildings planned for the campus at I-71 and Dana Avenue. Crews broke ground on the second building, a headquarters for the Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, in April.

The project is just the first in a new philosophy for 49-year-old Neyer. When the headquarters building opened last June, he pledged to “go green” on all future office construction, something he says is a win-win for all involved:



“Green” is a fashionable word lately. But is green building here to stay? Some people compare green building to when developers began putting fire sprinklers or air conditioning in buildings. I don’t know if it’s that much of a change, but it should be the standard that everybody works in. There are no real drawbacks long-term.



Is your pledge to go green worth the cost? When we decided to do this more than two years ago, we knew it was going to cost more money, and we knew that the majority of the benefits would go to our tenants. I’m a strong believer and supporter now because it’s the right thing to do. It’s giving back to our tenants; it’s giving back to our children and helping to take care of the world we live in.



How do you expect to stay competitive? I have numerous competitors who say “Why are you doing that when it costs more money and your tenants get the benefits?” I always respond, “Don’t you want your tenants to be happy?” If your tenants are happy, they’re going to stay awhile. I hope our competition follows our leadership.



Neyer Properties’ fastest growth spurt was during the last recession (in 2001). Do you think history will repeat itself in 2009 and 2010?Whenever there’s change, there’s opportunity, and there’s definitely change. I think that people who are well-positioned, with secure investments and capital, can weather the recession. If we (Neyer Properties) can buy property at very attractive values in very attractive locations, then when the recovery begins, we can ride the wave back up.



Has the current economic crisis undermined your faith in capitalism? Capitalism works great, but it’s very dependent on two major things: trust and confidence. We don’t have those right now. In some ways, it’s cleared some of the underbrush and makes us all work a little harder and not take things for granted. I think people are learning that what they need is a lot different from what they may want.



With the current credit crunch, what’s your advice to companies trying to forge ahead? Companies tend to wait until there’s a problem before they start trying to preserve cash and secure financing. Don’t wait. Explore other options for financing. There are options beyond lenders.



You started Neyer Properties in 1995, after breaking from Al. Neyer Inc., the family business (separate from Neyer Holdings Corp., which is involved in the Kenwood Towne Place Project). What is your advice to entrepreneurs? This is probably one of the best times to start a business. The challenge is if you do what I did — go home and tell your spouse “By the way, I quit my job and don’t have any money, but I’m going to start a business.” That puts a little stress on the relationship!