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

Jun 05, 2012

University Park Alliance takes steps to improving community

Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

In Akron, the University Park Alliance is working to bring more services and amenities to a 50-block neighborhood in an effort to meet the needs of future residents and create a sense of place in the community.

A recent move by the alliance illustrates a part of its strategy to shore up the neighborhood by buying up local property. 

The alliance recently purchased 12 homes along Excelsior Avenue as part of its efforts to rehabilitate houses and stabilize neighborhoods. It worked with community bank Valley Savings Bank to secure the transaction.  

Univeristy Park Alliance's Executive Director Eric Johnson said the move will ensure keeping people in their homes while also bringing in revenue for the alliance. 

All of the existing tenants will remain in their homes and pay their same level of rent. 

“As University Park Alliance executes on its master plan, it continues to engage residents and the community to successfully redevelop University Park,” said Jennifer Thomas, program director/Akron at Knight Foundation.

The Akron Beacon Journal covered the recent transaction in a front-page article, "University Park Alliance buys 12 Akron homes in effort to stabilize Mason neighborhood." The article notes that the alliance already manages properties within the area:

"It’s not the first time UPA, a nonprofit group working on the redevelopment of 50 city blocks around the University of Akron, is getting into the rental business. UPA already manages about 40 properties within the area, inherited from its previous organization before the UPA and the former University Park Development Corp. merged in 2010."

The article also noted according to Johnson, the transaction speaks to the four major goals of the alliance: "revitalizing the community, building relationships with new financial institutions, providing quality, decent affordable housing in the neighborhood and providing a rental revenue stream for the organization." 

Knight Foundation currently supports the University Park Alliance as a way to help draw more Akron residents to the city's center and all it has to offer.

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