The City of Akron and the Downtown Akron Partnership have unveiled their Downtown Akron Vision and Redevelopment Plan. It's a comprehensive plan to overhaul Downtown Akron, with the addition of street-level retail, business, residences, and infrastructure designed to connect the current hotspots of Downtown while maintaining the historic character of the neighborhood.
Akron Planning Director Jason Segedy and Downtown Akron Partnership President and CEO Suzie Graham joined Jasen for an in-depth look at the plan and to talk about how long it may take for the ideas to come to fruition.
Akron's focusing on a new plan to freshen up downtown -- and much centers on Lock 3 and 4 as well as Main and Exchange Streets. Planners hope to have the new blueprints for their redevelopment program fleshed out more over the next year.
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(City of Akron) Today, Mayor Horrigan joined with DAP and Downtown stakeholders to announce the completion of Phase I of the Downtown Vision and Redevelopment Plan.
One of Mayor Horrigan's first long-term projects upon taking office this year was to partner with Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) to embark on the development of a plan for Downtown. Last year, both the Blue Ribbon Task Force and DAP's strategic planning process identified the development of a Downtown Plan as a primary recommendation. A multidisciplinary group of 37 representatives from small and corporate business, development, city and county government, health systems, non-profits, finance, education, housing, tourism, real estate and philanthropy was assembled to populate the steering committee that led the effort.
DAP contracted with nationally-recognized consultants MKSK of Columbus to lead the planning process, which was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and GAR Foundation.
"To compete regionally and nationally, Akron must have a thriving and prosperous urban core. We have remarkable potential for growth in Akron, but we need a long-term vision for our Downtown and a deliberate, realistic plan to create conditions that will spur catalytic private sector investment," Mayor Horrigan said.
He adds, "Today we celebrate the completion of the first phase of the plan – a comprehensive review of the current conditions and the recognition of broad-based planning principles and key opportunity sites – and we look forward to the next phase, which will engage the community in setting priorities for fostering a revitalized Downtown that belongs to, serves, and connects all of Akron."
Phase I of the Downtown Vision and Redevelopment Plan involved key stakeholder interviews and evaluating existing conditions as well as plans and processes that have been undertaken that intersect with the Downtown neighborhood. Phase II of the plan, which will involve further market studies, policy and implementation strategies and a broad community engagement effort to involve all Akron citizens, is already being discussed, with hopes to begin this process early in 2017.
Through the Phase I process, ten planning principles were identified to be prioritized and integrated into new public or private developments. Some of the key principles include: focusing development on Main Street, prioritizing residential development, addressing business vacancy, creating a coordinated incentive package for development, expanding on successful nodes of activity, focusing on accessible, livable street design and prioritizing connecting downtown with Akron neighborhoods and institutions. Five key opportunity sites for development were identified as well as recommendations for each to activate growth. Of the five sites identified, The Lock 3 & 4 area and Main & Exchange were prioritized as the most critical and catalytic areas to focus development.
Suzie Graham, President of DAP adds, "Downtown Akron Partnership is thrilled to see the fruition of this important first phase of work. The Downtown Akron Vision and Redevelopment Plan – Phase 1 sets the trajectory for Akron's next stage of growth as a competitive, beautiful, balanced, right-sized city. This work will strengthen the performance of the downtown
neighborhood as a place to attract businesses, talent, visitors and residents and as a resource to benefit all of the residents of Akron. We are honored to have the trust of city leadership, downtown stakeholders and our philanthropic partners as we continue this partnership into its next phase and look forward to building our future together."