By Abigail Bashor
Akron Civic Commons – October 10, 2017 – Akron, OH – A historic city block in downtown Akron is on its way to revitalization. While still largely in the design stages, the Bowery redevelopment project is putting forth contextual plans to highlight the amenities coming to the space. Stretching from the edge of the Akron Civic Theatre toward the edge of South Main and West Bowery streets, “The Bowery,” as it will be known, consists of six previously city-owned buildings along the single block. Among them stand the historic Landmark Building—a legendary corner edifice that used to house the Akron Savings and Loan Company. Today, the building sits empty, patiently awaiting its revival as a hub of downtown circulation.
This is exactly where Bowery Development Group, LLC, comes in. The group consists of partnerships between DeHoff Development Company, WELTY Building Company LTD., Brokaw Development Services, and LDA architects, formed out of a plan to renovate the buildings. According to its most recent brochure on the project, the vision of The Bowery is “to present retail, residential, and mixed-use opportunities for downtown Akron that will intrigue young urbanites, business professionals and empty nesters, while integrating the existing local arts and culture attractions.” Surrounded by attractions such as Locks 3 & 4, the Akron Art Museum, The University of Akron, and Canal Park, The Bowery’s addition of living units and storefronts is both highly needed and a great way to drum up downtown activity.
The existing site sits attached to the aforementioned Akron Civic Theatre and in front of Lock 4—a cascade of flowing waterfalls in the center of the city’s urban landscape. The park has undergone its own enhancements—colorful LED lighting, seating space, and landscaping—as the result of one of the Akron Civic Commons’ early projects to reimagine public spaces.
The buildings are said to be adapted for modern use, yet will retain “historic details in order to preserve and celebrate downtown Akron’s past.” Key features include a total of 97 residential units ranging from studios to two-bedrooms, each designed with high-end luxury finishes, such as stainless steel appliances and porcelain tiles, and the preservation of large antique windows overlooking the city. Additionally, developers have discovered a way to reinvent space below the ground-level project itself. Each building within The Bowery block has remnants of sidewalk blocks, which extend beyond the front of each building under the sidewalk leading to each storefront. Used for storage and delivery space, these vaults were often ornamented by prism glass sets within the sidewalk to allow natural light to pass through. After viewing historical photographs of these sidewalk glass sets, Bowery Development Group made the decision to implement the restoration of these features as a nod to the area’s antiquity. The vaults will connect to form an underground sidewalk, allowing pedestrians to access storefronts along the Canal level on Main Street.
As a truly transformative project being brought to the area, it is clear The Bowery will propel downtown Akron forward in its quest to bring a renewed enthusiasm to the city.