Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has long wanted to redevelop the Mayflower Manor, one of South Main Street’s landmarks. The former hotel, built in 1931, attracted in its heyday politicians, actors, even the New York Yankees. Plusquellic, and others with an interest in a vibrant downtown, envision a renovated Mayflower building as an attractive setting for office and residential use, contributing to progress in restoring the city’s core.
On Tuesday, city officials announced their plans. Akron will seek a loan from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, purchase the 16-story structure, relocate its current residents and begin repairs.
The city would then turn the project over to a private developer. Besides contributing to Plusquellic’s vision for downtown, such a project would dovetail with the long-range plans put together by the University Park Alliance.
The Mayflower is currently operated by HUD for low-income, disabled and elderly residents, a vulnerable population for whom housing options are limited. As they plan a transition for the Mayflower, city officials are taking the right steps to ensure a smooth transition for the Mayflower’s approximately 250 tenants.
Residents will receive relocation benefits and help in moving. They would have at least 18 months to move, their absence from the building necessary for rehabilitation to start.
It is good that the city met with social-service and fair-housing officials before announcing the news, using their expertise to guide the planning process. The city has identified three facilities as options for the Mayflower’s tenants, in Firestone Park, the Lane/Wooster area and off Tallmadge Avenue, areas less isolated from residential neighborhoods than downtown.
Final options for the Mayflower will be determined by the private developer. They could include some space for low-income residents, the elderly and disabled. The important priority now is to take care of the extensive repairs needed to keep the Mayflower a sound and functioning building so that it can once again take its place as a major attraction in downtown Akron.