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Redevelopment of Akron buildings moving ahead

1/17/2008 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Council also sets stage for choosing new at-large member

DOWNTOWN AKRON — At its Jan. 14 meeting, Akron City Council unanimously approved the sale of seven downtown buildings to developers Main Street Partners LLC in a big step forward for a downtown redevelopment project.

The buildings affected are between 156 and 186 S. Main St. All have been owned by the city for about a decade. The six buildings between 164 and 186 S. Main St. will be sold for $1 each, and 156 S. Main, the Landmark Building, will be sold for $1.3 million.

Councilwoman Terry Albanese (D-Ward 6), chairwoman of the Economic Development and Job Creation Committee, told Council members the $1 price for each of the six buildings reflects the advanced deterioration and high cost to rehabilitate the buildings.

Main Street Partners’ $21 million investment for the buildings includes a mixed use of office, retail and residential. The project will create storefronts along Main Street and at the “canal level” behind the buildings, as well as 84 market-rate apartments, the first new housing in the core of downtown since the mid-1980s, Albanese said.

The project also is expected to create 150 full-time-equivalent low- to moderate-income jobs and generate $112,000 annually in income tax revenue and $300,000 annually in property tax revenue for the city.

In other business, Council accepted the resignation of at-large Councilman John Otterman effective Jan. 9, the day he was sworn in as the new state representative to District 45 of the Ohio House of Representatives. He takes over for his father, Robert Otterman.

Council also approved a resolution congratulating John Otterman on his new position.

In comments to Council, Otterman said that 40 years ago, when his father was a Council member, he used to come to Council Chambers as a child and play in all the seats and turn the microphones on and off.

He said he is up to the challenge of serving at the state level but is thankful for and proud of his service to the city.

“This is truly a privilege,” Otterman said. “I am very grateful for it.”

Various Council members, as well as Mayor Don Plusquellic, took time to congratulate Otterman. Along with jokes about high gasoline prices affecting his commute to Columbus, Council members recalled Otterman’s advice to them to focus on their constituents and always return phone calls.

“I’ve been dubbed the queen of meetings, but it’s because of him,” said Councilwoman Reneé Greene (D-Ward 4).

Plusquellic said he hopes Otterman can be a voice for cities and local government at the state level.

Amid applause, Otterman exchanged handshakes and embraces with various Council members and city officials as he exited the meeting just before it was adjourned.

In a third related measure, Council set Feb. 4 as the date to appoint a new member. The new member must be appointed within 30 days of Otterman’s resignation.

The search committee will be headed up by Councilman Jim Shealey (D-Ward 5), with Council members Albanese, Greene, Bob Keith (D-Ward 8) and John Conti (D-at large) also serving on the committee.

Those who are interested in applying may submit a letter of interest and résumé to Council Clerk Cheri Prough, 166 S. High St., Room 301, Akron, OH 44308. Applicants must be a resident of Akron for at least one year.

There was some confusion concerning when the new member will need to run in an election to keep his or her seat. It also couldn’t immediately be determined when, in the event a current ward Council member is appointed to the at-large seat, a new ward member would be required to run. Law Director Max Rothal said at the meeting he would issue a legal opinion relative to those questions.

Also at the meeting, Council:

• authorized the one-year extension of a mutual aid agreement between the Akron and Cuyahoga Falls fire departments. Fire Chief Larry Bunner said Akron will track how Cuyahoga Falls’ mutual aid with Silver Lake and Munroe Falls affects coverage;

• approved a conditional-use permit for T-Mobile to construct a flagpole telecommunications tower at 393 Storer Ave. No one spoke in opposition to the proposal at a public hearing, and Greene, in whose ward the property is situated, said residents’ concerns have been adequately addressed;

• approved conditional-use permits for the erection of oversized LED electronic signs for the Ellet and Odom Boulevard branch libraries;

• repealed an ordinance declaring the necessity of improving, among others, Dover Avenue in West Akron, as a result of residents’ requests; and

• approved $190,000 in funding to enter into contracts for the maintenance of various parks, traffic islands and miscellaneous properties this year.

Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the next Akron City Council meeting will be Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers on the third floor of the Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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