Work on a $30 million redevelopment of the 11-story Law Building in downtown Akron could begin as early as next month, the developer behind the project said Monday.

Tom Rybak, principal-in-charge of Tom Rybak & Associates of Rutherford, New Jersey, said his engineering and architectural firm will be ready to start immediately following Akron City Council’s endorsement of the project and closing of the construction loan.

Ryback said his firm conducted an in-house study that confirmed the feasibility of the Akron undertaking.

"We looked at the neighborhood and what Akron needed," Ryback said. The study concluded a market existed in downtown Akron "for the proposed residential units to be developed as smart and quality apartments."

The 1911 building at 159 S. Main St. will be stuffed with amenities, according to plans for its renovation. They include a health club, roof garden, demonstration kitchen and Amazon drop-off.

"It is a one of many interesting structures in downtown Akron," Ryback said. "It has a lot of potential and we wanted to restore it to its [full] glory."

The project was discussed Monday at a City Council Planning Committee meeting, which will consider it for a week before bringing it to the full council for its blessing.

Jeff Fusco, vice president of council and president of the Planning Committee, praised the project, which includes residential, office and retail components. The project's financial feasibility is boosted by tax incentives, which include a residential tax abatement, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Ohio Historic Preservation tax credits.

Plans for the 205,000-square-foot structure, which is between Bowery and Church streets, include 112 apartments on the fifth through 11th floors, about 44,000 square feet of office space on the second through fourth floors, and 24,000 square feet of retail on the first floor.

Maintenance of the building's skywalk system will be shared with the county and the city, although it will be renovated, too. About $25 million of the project's total will go to renovations.

“This [project] really complements the Bowery Building across the street,” Fusco said.

That project includes 90 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail and mixed-use space. Next to the Bowery project is one at the Civic Theatre, which includes an outdoor viewing screen and an addition for administrative offices.

Lorin Schultz, vice president in the Cleveland office of Colliers International, said the Law Building project appeals to young professionals who want to locate downtown for its cultural and epicurean amenities.

“This is going to attract professionals,” Schultz said. “Young professionals, people who want to work, live and play downtown.”

Schultz said the project, coupled with others bringing higher income professionals downtown to live, will spark the interest of retail establishments, fueling further growth.

Fusco said the project will be one piece of the puzzle in downtown's revitalization.

"Downtown Akron is going to be the hot spot in Akron," Fusco said.

 

Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or aashworth@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.