The Annex at 801 Brings Downtown-Style Venue to South Hilltop
Drew and Dalay Murray are the owners of The Annex at 801, a new industrial events venue near Franklinton in the southern Hilltop area.
The Murrays are both graduates of Ohio State and have been together since meeting there in 2012. Drew studied civil engineering, while Dalay studied interior design and interior architecture. Together they also have an event design company that Dalay started after graduation in 2014.
They got married in 2016, and just recently welcomed a baby boy to the family. 2016 is also the year Drew and Dalay began construction on The Annex.
“When we first got to it, it was like an abandoned warehouse, basically,” Dalay says. “This building has been here for years, and we’ve owned the property for like a decade—we as in my family, not us.”
Dalay’s parents own the entire building The Annex is housed in. There’s a small market up front that her family operates, while the rest of the building has sat empty for nearly a decade. So, for a couple of postgraduates, it was the perfect opportunity.
“We were just out of college, so we couldn’t get, like, any loans or anything, so we paid as we [went] to finish up construction,” Dalay says. “We would have never been able to afford the mortgage and do construction at the same time, so that was kind of a blessing for us.”
The decision to dedicate this space to weddings and events was inspired by weddings Drew and Dalay attended toward the end of college. They noticed there were a lot of event spaces Downtown that catered to high-end clientele, with charges for alcohol, catering services and valet parking. They see The Annex as an affordable alternative, with the same open venue concepts found Downtown.
“We really saw a void for black canvas spaces—like large industrial spaces that are just kind of open—that would allow you to kind of do your own thing as far as decoration and aesthetics,” says Dalay. “[The Annex] offers a lot more amenities than maybe some of the other ones that might be a little closer, but I think there’s still a pretty big demand for something like this.”
Where The Annex sits at 801 Harrisburg Pike, just a few blocks from Franklinton, there is not much economic activity present. But, Drew and Dalay are hopeful that developments in Franklinton will start to spill over. Eventually, their goal is to help grow the number of businesses around them.
“I know that area is developing super fast,” says Dalay. “There’s apartments going up, they have an event space there as well, there’s breweries, and we were hoping it would kind of trickle this way, since we are just literally one street over.”
“That way, it starts bringing places more in this area, and then the other plazas might fill out a little better too,” says Drew, “because this street has been a little bit empty as far as the retail centers go.”
Drew and Dalay are also working on changing some initial reactions to The Annex. They say that clients often aren’t expecting much from the venue, especially with the location being in a pretty inactive area. That skepticism has made it difficult to get clients in the door.
“It’s not necessarily an issue that has been brought up, but it’s definitely one that we’re taking into consideration, is how to make the location itself appeal to most people,” says Delay. “I know that once they get out here they like it.”
“Yeah, the initial marketing I guess has been very challenging,” Drew continues. “Just this initial wave of people coming in to get tours, and hopefully scheduled.”
With the new baby at home, the Murrays currently have quite a bit on their plate. Still, they are managing pretty well: Their first event took place in late February, and they have a b-boy jam, runway show and a number of weddings lined up for later this year.
“With the venue and the space itself the possibilities are really endless,” says Dalay. “We’re excited to kind of explore what we can do with it.”
Find more information about The Annex at 801 on their website.