Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Engaging the community in revitalizing downtown Akron

Dec. 18, 2012, 9:03 a.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Today, I’m excited to announce a nearly $8 million investment to help revitalize downtown Akron.

The funding for the University Park Alliance helps forward the organization’s dual mission – to foster strong neighborhoods through community engagement and to facilitate real estate development by partnering with anchor institutions.

Most of the funding  - $6 million – will build on the alliance’s success over the past two years in bringing the community together to create a vision for downtown’s future. With the master plan in place, new funding will enhance programming, like Community Day, where 165 residents came out to rehab homes, that we hope will continue to create the kind of informed and engaged community where we’d all like to live.

The remaining $1.88 million will go towards a low-interest loan to support development costs for the University Square project, which will provide housing and retail for residents and students.

Years of economic decline have taken a toll on the University Park neighborhood, which consists of a 50-block area located in the heart of the city. Yet the neighborhood is lucky to have a solid housing stock, loyal residents, good schools and partner institutions like the University of Akron, Summa Health System and Akron Children’s Hospital joining Knight in a commitment to its revitalization.

With these investments, Akron can continue to build on its strengths and become a model mid-sized American city with a vibrant soul.

By Jennifer Thomas, program director/Akron at Knight Foundation

Related: "University Park Alliance awarded $8M from Knight Foundation" in the Akron Beacon Journal and "Knight Foundation commits nearly $8M to University Park initiative" in Crain's Cleveland Business.