The city of Akron is ready to donate a 250,000-square-foot building near downtown and two vacant lots near Summit Lake to nonprofit organizations already using them.
On the Akron Planning Commission agenda this Friday are two proposals that would support a community garden run by Let's Grow Akron and the Bounce Innovation Hub near Canal Place. Both deals have been approved by Mayor Dan Horrigan’s planning staff. The planning commission will weigh in Friday but final approval rests with City Council, which could vote on the proposals sometime in the next few weeks.
The first deal would begin the process of handing 526 S. Main St. to Bounce Innovation Group, which opened a business incubator and collaborative space for entrepreneurs in January 2018 in commercial space previously occupied by the Akron Global Business Accelerator. Bounce’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Thursday morning to decide whether to accept the property. Chief Operating Officer Jessica Sublett described the city’s offer as a 10-year, forgivable loan for the appraised value of the building, which is $6,055,190.
As long as Bounce stays put for 10 years, the loan never needs repaid.
Bounce is trying to renovate the building’s first floor by May with a $650,000 loan from the Akron Development Fund at the Chamber of Commerce. To secure that loan, Sublett said it would help to hold the deed on their office property.
Akron Chief of Staff James Hardy, who heads the city’s Office of Integrated Development for Horrigan, sees the deal as beneficial for practical and strategic reasons. It’s always “a good day,” he said, when the city can reduce the burden of maintaining an old building or asset by transferring it to a responsible property owner. And he sees Bounce as a partner in the mayor’s mission to transform the economy of Akron.
Hardy said he’s aware of incubators like Bounce in other cities. But most own their buildings, which he said allows them to leverage the property to expand services and better support their clients. The property transfer “puts Bounce’s balance sheet in a stronger position to help promote all that the mayor envisions for the city,” Hardy said.
The city is also planning to donate a pair of vacant lots near Summit Lake to Let’s Grow Akron, a nonprofit organization currently using the land for a community garden. The 7,700 square foot property at the northeast corner of Harvey Avenue and Second Street Southwest is valued at $20,120 by the county fiscal office.
Let’s Grow Akron promotes gardening as an opportunity to educate and feed the community by creating healthy options in low-income neighborhoods. The property transfer would allow Let’s Grow Akron to expand its existing garden to 60 by 75 feet to fill its food pantry and support its community meal program.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.