As the city of Akron moves ahead with plans to purchase and renovate the Mayflower Manor, officials are taking care to listen to those living there. About 250 people, many elderly and disabled, call the Mayflower home. Understandably, they are concerned about their options for new housing that meets their needs.
Citing those concerns, the City Council has postponed temporarily a vote on applying for a $14 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The decision followed a public hearing during which opposition surfaced.
Fortunately, the timeline for action on the Mayflower project leaves room to explore those options while the project proceeds. Once the city files its loan application, it will take about six months for a decision from the federal government. After that, it could take several more months to close the deal. Meanwhile, the city rightly has promised not to start renovations until all residents get the assistance they need to move.
One looming deadline is Nov. 1, when the current owner must decide whether to sign another 20-year agreement with the federal housing department to operate the Mayflower for low-income, disabled and elderly residents. City engineers note that the building’s mechanical and electrical systems are original. Delay top-to-bottom renovations for two decades, and it could be all but impossible to restore the landmark structure so that it can take its place in a revitalized downtown.
Eventually, the city hopes to attract a private developer to take over the project, determining its final use. What’s certain is that extensive renovations of the Mayflower cannot move forward while there still are people living there.
Although the Mayflower is safe, it is an old building, subject to problems that can make life uncomfortable. With careful planning, a smooth transition can be accomplished, eventually placing current residents in more widely dispersed settings where they can be part of a community and closer to amenities. This week, the City Council stepped in the direction of making that happen.