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Economy and Business


A new hotel would blend with Akron's Greystone Hall
City gives up former Masonic Temple to entice a developer
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
If financing can be found, Amerimar Realty and Greystone Partners LLC hope to building a new 160 room hotel on High St. in downtown Akron.
Courtesy of Greystone Partners/ Amerimar Realty
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In The Region:
The city of Cleveland looks to get a brand new hotel across the street from its new convention center. And now Akron may get the same thing.

Philadelphia-based Amerimar Realty has announced plans to construct a 160-room hotel on the site of what is now a vacant church. It would be the first new hotel built in downtown Akron in 40 years and another example of how the city keeps reinventing itself.
LISTEN: Amerimar, Greystone and downtown Akron.

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There hasn’t been a single franchise hotel in downtown Akron since the University of Akron turned the Quaker Square silos into a residence hall. Now there are three new hotels on the drawing board for the city. A Marriott is planned for the Northside neighborhood and the California developer who bought the old Goodyear headquarters is planning to turn part of that into a new hotel. 

City officials have been trying to get people interested in the former Masonic Temple, now Greystone Hall, which the city owns. Developer Bill Ginter, who turned a former BF Goodrich factory into the AES office building stepped up. He says Akron is second to none in reinventing itself and he wants to renovate the nearly century-old hall as part of a new hotel complex. 

“There are literally hundred of millions of dollars of very successful public and private investment that’s occurred in this community. And you see it standing outside this building. “

Similar stories in similar cities
Amerimar has turned old buildings in other cities into successful hotels. Owner David Marshall says they will do it in Akron by building a new seven-story building and use Greystone Hall for ballroom and meeting rooms. They won’t be part of a chain, either.  

“We’ve done a bunch of franchise as well as a bunch of independent hotels. We determined that the best use of this property is as an independent hotel.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said getting financing for a hotel was always the problem, and it still is. The city is putting up $4 million in Tax Increment Financing and donating all but a share of the Greystone Hall.  

“Having it in private hands and be re-used in a way that makes it a more successful hotel takes it off of our books," Plusquellic says. It also takes the operating and maintenance costs off the city's hands. 

Actors Summit likes the idea of the new neighbor
One tenant using the theater in the old building is the Actors Summit. Founder Neil Thackaberry says the new owners want the company to stay.  

“A hotel of this quality so close to the theater can only help us.”  

The new hotel will include a pool and a French restaurant with outdoor seating. It’s across the street from the John S. Knight Convention Center, which is its main draw. But David Marshall sees another advantage to being in Akron right now.

 “I think the people have not completely understood what’s going to happen to the gas and oil industry. The fact that wet gas is coming out of the Utica shale and Akron is the polymer capital of the country -- put all these pieces together and you’ll be very pleased.”

Marshall is so bullish on the growing oil and gas industry in Ohio that his company recently signed a deal to buy the former Firestone headquarters in Akron and Huntington Bank Plaza in Canton.  

(Click image for larger view.)

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