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Economy and Business


Knight Foundation grant for University Park Alliance
Aimed at revitalizing neighborhood south of Exchange St.
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Senior Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
The neighborhood project at Brown and Exchange Streets is called University Square.
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In The Region:
Efforts to improve the neighborhoods around the University of Akron just got a big boost from the Knight Foundation.  It’s providing $6 million dollars in grants and nearly $2 million in loans to the University Park Alliance. Details from WKSU’s Mark Urycki.
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Area universities like Cleveland State, Kent State, and Akron are all helping develop the blocks around their campuses.  It’s been good for the schools and for their cities.  The Knight Foundation has provided some 18 million dollars to the University Park Alliance for its work developing the 50 block area around U Akron.  The latest money will also include loans for design and engineering work for a specific neighborhood south of Exchange Street.  Alliance Director Eric Johnson says the UPA overall goal is to drive investment in the entire urban core of Akron

“The end game is to create a walkable place where people can both live, work, learn, and play.  And they want to start to invest and be a driving point now and well into the future.  That’s really what it is about.”

The UPA is not just bringing in neighborhood anchors like coffee shops, office space,  and grocery stores -  they’re working with residents.  Jennifer Thomas of the Knight Foundation says that’s what appealed to them

“It’ll be programs like Community Day where they had 165 residents come out and rehabilitate 8 houses.  Or Community Engagement Day where they had 315 residents use voting technology to determine the needs of the city and create a special  improvement district.”

Thomas says UPA will act as a facilitator but the neighbors, block clubs, and business associations will drive the change.   

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