The Goodyear redevelopment project has a new name, the East End, complete with a logo that incorporates the tire company’s East Market Street clock tower.
And the East Akron site will be getting a new, 135-room hotel, with ground likely to be broken by summer, the developer says.
The now-solidifying redevelopment and reuse plans call for the upper floors of Goodyear Hall to be turned into approximately 100, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The ground floor will hold retailers while the historical building’s 1,500-seat auditorium will be used for concerts and similar performances open to the public. The rest of the campus, including Goodyear’s current headquarters, will be converted into office space, retail and more.
“We’re kind of creating a whole new neighborhood,” said Stu Lichter, owner and developer of the 400-acre site who specializes in buying and redeveloping aging industrial properties around the nation. “We’re moving. It’s really exciting.”
Redevelopment work begins in earnest once Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. moves into its new corporate headquarters on Innovation Way (the former Martha Avenue across I-76) by April.
The new, unnamed full-service hotel will be built on what is now a Goodyear parking lot near the Ganley auto dealer campus, said Lichter and Tim Todaro, leasing agent for the East End project. The East Market Street hotel will have easy highway access, they said.
“We are going through the [hotel] franchise process,” said Todaro, who is based locally and works for Lichter’s development company, California-based Industrial Realty Group.
Neither Lichter nor Todaro said which hotel franchise they were seeking or the price tag for the building. Ground may break this spring or early summer, with the hotel likely completed eight to nine months later, Lichter said. A formal announcement on the hotel is expected in 30 to 60 days, he said.
2007 plans revamped
The original Goodyear redevelopment project, then called Riverwalk and unveiled with great fanfare in late 2007, called for the building of a $25 million, 125-room four-star Wyndham Hotel near the new Goodyear headquarters. The Great Recession scuttled available financing for what was then being called a $900 million project redeveloping a large swath of East Akron. Lichter, Goodyear, Summit County and the city revamped and restructured the concept.
Lichter last April unveiled updated concepts for the development but did not show a new hotel. These new plans for a hotel place it in a different location than what was originally envisioned in 2007.
Goodyear wants a high quality hotel near its headquarters, Lichter said. Goodyear’s business visitors now have to travel to and from hotels miles from its headquarters, he said.
Akron city officials have been seeking to find a developer to either build a new, first-rate hotel downtown at an estimated cost of $12 million or to renovate the Akron City Centre Hotel at a cost of $6 million. The Goodyear campus is about two miles east of the downtown hotel.
‘High demand’ expected
Lichter said he expects there will be high demand for his hotel from other nearby businesses, including those that will move into the redeveloped office spaces in the old Goodyear headquarters buildings.
Lichter last April said he was looking into putting in a 40- to 50-room boutique hotel in the former bank space at Goodyear Hall.
Now the idea is turn the bank space into a restaurant, said Todaro. It is possible the former bank could get some other use, he said.
“We believe it is a great restaurant spot,” Todaro said. The whole first floor of Goodyear Hall is envisioned for entertainment and retail space, he said.
They intend to bring in a manager for the auditorium, which could host many as 50 concerts and other performances annually, he said.
“It’s a 1,500-seat auditorium. It’s beautiful inside,” Todaro said. “It should be shared with the community.”
Another manager will be hired for the gymnasium and fitness center in Goodyear Hall, Todaro said.
The East End project still calls for putting in a large central atrium in the current Goodyear headquarters building and relocating the main entranceway, as Lichter announced last year.
Goodyear’s current front lobby may be turned into a restaurant but could find a different “high foot traffic” use, Todaro said. “It’s a cool space,” he said.
The development also calls for changes on East Market Street to slow down traffic that moves through there, Todaro said.
There’s a lot of interest in the proposed office space, Todaro said. He declined to say who may want to move into the soon-to-be-available rooms.
The East End promotional brochure says office floor plans range from 9,000 square feet to 89,000 square feet and are suitable for headquarters, medical, research, educational and other uses.
The first office tenants may be in by the end of the year, Todaro said.
“First we have to move Goodyear into its new headquarters,” he said.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org