A local developer is looking to attract businesses and tenants with a new deli, bakery and health foods store, a medical marijuana dispensary (which will open later than scheduled due to construction-related water damage), a rooftop bar and up to 30 more loft apartments in Akron's downtown arts and entertainment district.
Tony Troppe of the Everett Group, which specializes in the reuse of historic buildings, is doubling down on projects like the Cascade Lofts. The 24-unit apartment building near the Mustill Store on West North Street was renovated and filled in about a year.
More to the point, 70% of its tenants last lived outside Ohio, Troppe said. “The law of attraction is working. We’re attracting talent and it tells me that the area is ripe for knowledge workers.”
The optimistic Troppe gives “kudos” to the city's new residential tax abatement program and to corporate leaders for creating jobs. Hundreds of downtown apartments are expected to come online in the next few years: 90 units on Main Street when the Bowery Project wraps up this fall followed by 112 more in the Law Building next year and 60 more after that in the CitiCenter Building.
Scattered around these behemoth projects, Troppe is filling commercial spaces with more private living. The developer hopes to have 15 apartments, ranging from 750 to 1,600 square feet and $900 to $2,000 a month, ready by the end of 2019 in the Everett Building.
Now, he’s proposing 10 loft apartments at the northeast corner of Broadway and Market Street in a building that housed a pop-up art gallery last year called "Pish Posh." Troppe saw thousands of potential tenants frequent the exhibit of contemporary art. He’s pitching the 2020 loft project as downtown living that “ties into” the nearby Akron Art Museum and John S. Knight Center.
On Friday, he’ll ask the Akron Planning Commission to support a conditional zoning request to put four apartments with outdoor decks and a rooftop bar above a medical marijuana dispensary at 44 N. Summit St. He’s calling this the Summit Lofts.
“It’s going to be a neat little haven for artists and art lovers,” Troppe said, speaking about the cluster of downtown apartment projects.
The Summit Lofts will include three apartments on the second floor ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet. A two-bedroom unit is being built for a tenant interested in occupying all 2,900 square feet of the third floor.
Beside the lofts, Troppe is renovating an attached, single-story industrial space that last housed the Akron Makerspace. The organization, which provides space and training for creative collaboration, is moving to Canal Place.
Troppe wants to lease the newly available space to a medical company from Boston, which he would not name while the lease is under negotiations. He's looking for a health and wellness food store operator to fill the rest of the ground-level building.
City administrators who opposed a medical marijuana store near the art museum and Main Library are supporting the new apartments.
About a month ago, while construction workers had the roof torn apart on Summit Lofts, rain caused up to $20,000 in water damage in the waiting room of the street-level medical marijuana dispensary, which will not be accessible from the apartments. The damage must be repaired before the state conducts a final inspection.
“Unfortunately, it is not in a state right now where it would be able to get a certificate of occupancy,” said Kate Nelson, the chief operating officer of Greenleaf Apothecaries, which will run the Akron dispensary. “I cannot tell you how frustrating that is.”
Nelson said she never expected such strong demand for medical marijuana in Ohio, as evidenced by the number of registered patients and relatively few open dispensaries. "Never once did I expect to have this many patients by this time," Nelson said.
As more grow sites and processing facilities open, Nelson said medical cannabis product prices, availability and variety will continue to improve. The nearest dispensaries to Akron are in the Cuyahoga Falls side of Chapel Hill or at Greenleaf's Canton location. There, Nelson said, potent CBD products like a vaporizer pen are just now hitting the shelves for patients seeking pain relief without the marijuana high.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.