Planning for Operations and Infrastructure
October 19, 2005
- Review of Current Downtown Housing
- Hope VI
- Redevelopment of Elizabeth Park
- Mixed income; some market rate
- 275 units; some rental, some to own
- Neo-traditional style; rear-loaded garages, porches, multi-colored.
- Northside Condos/Lofts
- 89 condos for sale
- 61 warehouse style lofts and flats
- 5 penthouse units
- 28 brownstones
- Hickory Street
- 70 townhouses; all for sale
- Porches and rear-loaded garages
- Spicer Village
- Near UA; close to university and downtown amenities
- Townhouses for sale
- Contemporary styling
- Creating new retail district nearby
- Lock 3
- Program review currently underway
- Market rate rental
- 80-90 units
- Canal Square and The Landings
- Currently available
- Workgroup of Imagine Downtown Akron 2025 made recommendations. These recommendations
were driven by the results of a market study and focus groups.
- Need to define the parameters of the area targeted for downtown housing
- The perimeter areas are the easiest to develop as "neighborhoods" (e.g. Ohio
City was the first housing market in Cleveland to develop)
- Within one mile of downtown could be the target area
- Another way to define would be according to "walking times;" (e.g. focus on
areas within a 5-10 minute walk to downtown)
- Explore new areas for development within target area
- Explore areas around AGMC and ACHMC (Helen Arnold Project might figure into these plans)
- Explore Glendale Hill area and the impact of Innerbelt (highway study currently underway
about whether it should be reduced in size)
- Importance of green space to downtown housing.
- Develop new green space wherever possible
- Protect existing spaces and parks
- UA green spaces are an asset
- Opportunities and Challenges for Development
- Downtown is much more vibrant than 10 years ago - we need to tell the story.
- No real traffic problem; ironically, this removes one of the biggest motivators to
downtown housing in other cities (avoiding rush hour traffic to and from workplace)
- 30,000 workers in downtown Akron; most are fairly well-compensated
- Workers can travel easily to suburbs because we have an overbuilt transportation system.
- Land assembly is a challenge; downtown land is more expensive than vacant land in the
suburbs. Eminent domain legal issues in flux.
- Not as easy to redevelop vacant downtown buildings into housing in Akron as in other
cities because there is not a large inventory of empty buildings - this makes new
buildings a better option
- Entertainment district is well-developed; needs to be highlighted
- Retail opportunities need developed; e.g. specialty stores, clothing, ethnic food
- These are fragile kinds of businesses; may need to incubate.
- Businesses continue to struggle (Piatto's closing after 5 years).
- Retail needs housing to survive.
- Meeting Consumer Needs
- Young Professional Group (25-35 years old) recently conducted group dialogues to explore
- Great interest in living downtown.
- Most want to own, rather than rent.
- Want places to connect with other people.
- Want fresh markets.
- Want green spaces within walking distance.
- Main Street closure/pedestrian mall considered in the past; maybe reconsider?
- Strengthen connections with Towpath
- Dog parks
- Want downtown services (e.g. dry cleaning)
- Crime not seen as a major issue, but mental health issues/ "street people" are
an issue for potential downtown housing tenants/owners
- Surveys and focus groups reflect that downtown workers want housing within walking
distance of jobs
- Next Steps
- Define geographic focus.
- Entertainment District
- Area traditionally designated as the Central Business District
- Special Improvement District
- Determine realistic but ambitious goals for number of new housing units.
- Maybe goal has been too low
- Downtown Cleveland and Lorain markets are booming
- Two-thirds of American households do not have children under eighteen; this is the
demographic group typically interested in living in downtown areas.
- Learn more about the demographics of key employers
- UA and Summa employees have given valuable input already
- Survey other large employers' workforces to better determine market demand.
- Determine consumer needs by asking current downtown residents which services and
amenities are missing
- Support landscape urbanism
- Develop bikeways/pedestrian links to green spaces
- Protect open spaces/ invest in improving them
- Redesign Cascade Plaza
- Encourage employers to invest in housing initiatives
- UA has developed incentive program to encourage their employees to buy homes downtown
(down payment assistance)
- Summa has also shown interest in an incentive program
- Tell the success stories of people already living downtown
- Consider consultants for planning and marketing
- Branding of downtown housing; including a redefinition of the areas involved (e.g. the
perimeter neighborhoods that are developing)
- Visioning process needs to continue (Build on efforts of Imagine Downtown Akron 2025)