In 2016, Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) and the City of Akron, Ohio embarked on the development of a long range plan for downtown for the first time in DAP’s history. From the beginning, the plan was supported by Mayor Dan Horrigan, whose Blue Ribbon Task Force saw the need for such a plan. It was also a primary recommendation from DAP’s strategic planning process that took place last year.
Mayor Daniel Horrigan and his staff joined with DAP’s leadership in assembling 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 to populate the committee.
DAP contracted with nationally-recognized consultants MKSK of Columbus to lead Phase I of the Downtown Vision and Redevelopment Plan, which was supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and GAR Foundation.
The first phase of the process integrated more than 150 citizens and stakeholders in a five month collective decision making planning process. It evaluated existing conditions as well as plans and processes that have been undertaken that intersect with the downtown neighborhood. Through the process, ten planning principles were identified to be prioritized and integrated into future public or private developments. Many of these principles are now paired with workgroups charged with leading the full development and integration of the principle into the way Downtown Akron does business. Finally, the process identified five key opportunity sites for development and provided recommendations for each to catalyze growth. Of the five sites identified, the Lock 3 & 4 area and Main & Exchange were prioritized as the most critical and catalytic areas to begin work.
On November 15, 2016, the city of Akron and Downtown Akron Partnership revealed the first phase of a plan to strategically redevelop certain areas of the city.
Early findings from the Downtown Vision and Redevelopment Plan were detailed at a press conference inside the vacant Landmark Building on Main Street, a building set to be redeveloped in the heart of Akron’s central business corridor.
Officials outlined 10 planning principles identified in Phase 1 that will be prioritized and integrated into new public and private developments:
- Focus on Main Street
- Build vitality through residential development
- Address business vacancy
- Create a coordinated incentive for redevelopment
- Make great public spaces
- Continue to program downtown
- Prioritize street design that enhances health and safety
- Expand on successful areas of activity
- Build on Akron’s rich history
- Strengthen downtown connections with surrounding neighborhoods and institutions
Phase II of the plan, which will involve broad community engagement, is already being discussed.