Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic held a news conference in September 2010 announcing that the dilapidated Young’s Hotel would be torn down and replaced by a new hotel and retail complex.
Plusquellic said a local construction manager planned to buy the site from the city and redevelop it with private investors. He said Akron would recoup the $800,000 the city had invested in the building and renovations to keep it standing.
Two years later, the hotel is gone, and all that’s left in its place is a hot dog vendor who takes up daily residence in the otherwise empty asphalt parking lot.
The sale was never completed.
Plans for the site fell through when Bill Bennett of Bennett Construction Management Inc. of Akron was unable to find a hotel, restaurant or other retail company that wanted to operate on the picturesque but small spot beside Nesmith Lake on Manchester Road at Carnegie Avenue.
“The numbers haven’t worked out yet,” Bennett said in a recent interview. “It has been longer coming than we had expected. Hopefully, we’ll get something good to put there and start next year.”
Bennett has proposed a new idea of assisted-living housing for older adults — a plan the city is reviewing. He said he’s open to other options as well.
He thinks the 1.85-acre site would be perfect for a restaurant.
“We all want to put something there that works for everybody,” Bennett said.
The original structure was built as a tavern in 1850. Young’s closed on Jan. 7, 2004.
The city still owns the site and spent another $40,000 to raze the former hotel in December 2010.
Planning Director John Moore thinks the city needs to take another look at the best use for the site, which is zoned retail, with a sliver of residential along the lake.
“We want to get something really nice there,” he said.
Moore thinks the best use might be condominiums. He estimated that at least 80 years have passed since any housing was built in the Kenmore area of the city. The property has a grocery store and the towpath within walking distance.
After deciding on the best use for the site, Moore said, the city might put out another request for proposals for the property.
He said the city doesn’t get calls about the site like it did before the hotel was demolished. “Not a word,” Moore said. “The majority are happy it’s down.”
Councilman Mike Freeman, whose ward includes the site, agrees the number of calls has dropped. He said that if nothing is going to be built on the property for a few years, the city should consider removing the asphalt, planting grass and turning it into a simple park with some picnic tables. He said the people who routinely go there to fish would make good use of the space, as would others who live nearby or visit the towpath.
Freeman is disappointed the original plans for the project didn’t work out, but understands why they failed.
“In better times, a building would be there now,” he said.
Hot dog vendor
One person who’s pleased with what has happened — or hasn’t happened — with the site is Diane Berube-Morrison, owner of Sassy Dog food concession. She is leasing the property and has been doing well selling a wide assortment of hot dogs and beverages.
Bennett said he was recently talking to Public Service Director Rick Merolla, who mentioned the hot dog stand on the site.
“I told you we’d have a restaurant there,” Bennett told him.
“That’s not what we had in mind,” Merolla replied.