By Timothy Magaw
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a nearly $8 million commitment to help revitalize a 50-block area in Akron's urban core, which sits near the University of Akron and other major institutions in the city.
The money will come in two blocks — a $6 million grant and a $1.8 million low-interest loan. The foundation has committed $18 million in the last six years to University Park Alliance, the nonprofit development corporation leading the revitalization effort.
“The work at hand will help build a vibrant, engaged community in Akron where people aspire to live, work, learn and play," said Eric Anthony Johnson, the alliance's executive director, in a news release. "The alliance is building on the tremendous groundwork of visionary local leaders such as Mayor Don Plusquellic and University of Akron president Luis Proenza. The pieces are in place for the transformative work ahead.”
In its redevelopment efforts, the University Park Alliance connects each real estate project with a major Akron institution. For instance, Market Square, a mixed-use development that broke ground in August, is a partnership with Akron Children's Hospital and Child Guidance Family Services.
The $1.8 million low-interest loan is expected to support the alliance's University Square project, which it described in a news release as the “linchpin” of its master plan that will provide housing and shopping for both University of Akron students and city residents.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.