Developers working Downtown Akron’s Bowery Project expect residents will be able to move into apartments in the renovated bank building starting Oct. 1.
It’s the first phase of a mixed-use project expected to add jobs in construction, legal services and retail.
But where people will shop remains a problem. There are still not enough residents in the area to attract a major grocer, so developers are looking for another solution.
Welty Building Company CEO Donzell Taylor is spearheading the Bowery project and says his team approached several grocery store companies, but were turned down. Now he is working with the International Institute in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood to help an immigrant family launch a small store downtown.
“We would help them start the business, do the initial stocking, and let them turn it into a business like what you see in New York, where you have a bodega,” Taylor says.
A study commissioned by the project’s developers says the Bowery ultimately will add $245 million to the economy and create more than 2,000 jobs within 20 years. Economist Amanda Weinstein from the University of Akron is the study’s lead researcher. She says the benefits will be larger than the immediate construction jobs created by the development.
“Research shows that cities are increasingly oriented around consumption amenities,” Weinstein says. “And when you have cities oriented around those things, you get an impact that keeps going from now to 20 years out from now.”
The Bowery project restores six historic buildings on Akron’s main street, and will cost $42 million. One of the development’s strengths is an emphasis on walkability, Weinstein says.
“You get higher home values, you get more business activity, you get more financially productive acres and you get higher tax revenues from having these walkable, people-oriented streets,” she says.
New tenants will add $6 million in household income when they move into the 92 renovated apartments in the old Akron Savings and Loan Building.
Developers and investors are pooling funding from 15 different sources for the Bowery project which, in addition to the nearly completed apartments, will eventually include:
- Six historic buildings;
- 36,000 square feet of retail space;
- 4,000 square feet of boutique office space;
- 150 parking spaces reserved in the adjacent city-owned Cascade Parking Garage.
The video above was corrected to reflect the projected economic impact of the Bowery Project.