Plans have changed for a small, storied property in downtown Akron.
The new owner of the nearly 100-year-old building on Exchange Street known as the Printers Club now is seeking to lease space in the two-story structure.
Last spring, the owner, Dean Fongemie, had said he planned to install a coffee shop and convenience store in the building at 53 E. Exchange St., across from the Akron Beacon Journal.
Fongemie paid $110,000 for the building. He said the businesses would attract the growing number of University of Akron students living within blocks of the property, which has been a printers union hall and continues to house a bar with a small, loyal following.
Last week, an “available” sign went up on the building’s exterior.
Ken Woods, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Chervenic Realty in Akron, said Fongemie “has chosen to have someone else run a business out of there and he’s too busy” with his regular job.
Fongemie, a pilot for a local company, could not be reached for comment.
Fongemie, who previously owned businesses in Maine, had indicated he would juggle his pilot’s job while opening the coffee shop and convenience store.
Woods said Fongemie is seeking to lease the vacant portions of the building’s first floor — not the space where the bar is.
Available for lease is 800 square feet at the north end of the building, with an entrance on Wheeler Alley, and another space — the old union hall — that totals about 1,200 square feet. This area has an entrance on Exchange Street and is adjacent to the Printers Club bar.
Woods said Fongemie is willing to divide the former union hall space or expand the smaller area, into the bigger space.
Woods, noting that the building has no parking, said “it’s going to take an unusual client” — one not opposed to the lack of dedicated parking” — to lease the property.
The building has several apartments, which are on the second floor. Woods said he is not handling leasing of the apartments.
The Exchange Street Building’s previous owner, the Akron unit of the International Typographical Union (ITU), bought the row-style brick structure in the 1960s. The now tiny local union had hundreds of members at the time. Some 200 members worked at the Beacon Journal.
In the 1970s, members of the union opened the private Printers Club bar. Nonunion members pay small annual club dues. Fongemie had said earlier the bar, which is open Monday through Friday at 3 p.m., attracts people who work nearby and could stay rent free until May 1 and was welcome to remain after that day as a paying tenant.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.