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Akron Council moves forward with hotel project

9/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron City Council gave its approval Sept. 23 to two pieces of legislation pertaining to a planned project to construct a hotel adjacent to Greystone Hall in Downtown Akron.

The deal among the city, Greystone Partners LLC and Amerimar Realty Co. was announced in July.

Council approved an ordinance approving the historic designation of Greystone Hall, built in 1917, as a historic landmark. The designation would allow for the application of historic tax credits for the rehabilitation of the property.

Council also approved a lease agreement with Greystone Partners LLC for the city-owned Greystone Hall at 103 S. High St. The lease agreement, according to Economic Development Director Bob Bowman, is a “placeholder lease agreement” that needs to be in place for the developers to apply for the historic tax credit. There will be no rent payments.

The agreement requires a redevelopment agreement with the city to be drawn up within one year, or the lease will be nullified.

According to city officials, the hotel is planned to feature approximately 160 upscale rooms and suites, a 125-seat casual restaurant and bar with sidewalk seating, extensive space for meetings and weddings, and a fitness center and indoor swimming pool. The Greystone building will be fully renovated and integrated into the hotel, housing the meeting and event space and the restaurant, while continuing to be a venue for live theater productions.

In other business, Council discussed pending legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Linda Omobien (D-at large) before summer break, that states opposition to House Bill 203, which would, according to Omobien, implement Ohio’s version of a “stand your ground” law.

Omobien said her opposition to the proposed law is that it would be “extremely subjective” and justify fatal action against a person who gives off a menacing appearance. She said it would be similar to Florida’s law.

“We really don’t need that in the state of Ohio,” she said.

Omobien said several individuals will travel to Columbus early next month to testify against the proposed law. However, she said she hadn’t yet received the copy of the law that she had requested, and Council voted to take time on its legislation until Council members would be able to review the House bill. A vote is expected next week, before the Columbus trip.

Also at the meeting, Council approved:

  • a city contribution of $750 toward the purchase of an Ohio historical marker to commemorate the historical importance of the Akron Community Service Center and Urban League location at East Market and College streets;
  • the designation of the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. location at 1200 Firestone Parkway and 1301 S. Main St. as a historic district; and
  • a conditional use for a sally port addition at a minimum security jail owned by Oriana House at 40 E. Glenwood Ave.

Council also heard from Jerry Craig, the executive director of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, who asked for Council’s support of Issue No. 1 on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot, which is a levy renewal. Craig stressed the levy is not new money, as it would be the continuation of a current levy, and the levy funding provides 78 percent of the board’s budget.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set for 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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