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Akron's West Hill Neighborhood Looking to Attract Businesses, Refurbish Glendale Park

photo of Karen Noel, JT Buck, Glendale Steps, Glendale Park
Karen Noel (left) and JT Buck relax on the historic Glendale Steps; they hope their work with the West Hill Community Development Corporation helps bring businesses to the neighborhood, and also helps restore Glendale Park, in the background.

Officials in Akron’s West Hill neighborhood are trying to turn the area into an arts-and-merchant district – building on a zoning amendment that was passed in the 1990s.

West Hill – just south of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and west of downtown – is zoned to allow homeowners to open small businesses on their property. That zoning was expanded this week to include more of the neighborhood, and Karen Noel, vice-president of the West Hill Community Development Corporation, says she hopes it attracts more businesses to the area.

“What is hoped-for soon is a martial arts studio. We have somebody who’s interested in doing a creative writing lab with a niche book store. One of my tenants actually wants to do a music studio here. I’m a drummer, and I have to drive to Montrose to buy drum sticks!”

The community development corporation also plans a marketing campaign this month to bring attention to the various arts groups already operating in West Hill. And they’ve applied for a $100,000 grant from the new Akron Parks Challenge to restore Glendale Park, near historic Glendale Cemetery, west of downtown.

Noel says right now, due to the city's sewer project, “there are earth-movers and piles of gravel [there]. We are committed – and the city is committed – to turning it back into green space. We would do things like build a stage, maybe a fire pit, a shelter house, but just putting it back together as a green space with maybe a couple picnic tables is really a good start, too.”

The city says it will restore the grass in the park after construction is completed, and winners of the parks challenge will be announced June 1.