Posts Tagged ‘Akron Beacon Journal’« To Gallup CEO Jim Clifton: Akron, Ohio, is your example Award-winning promotions for Akron’s University Park speak to real plans, real substance »Award-winning promotions for Akron’s University Park speak to real plans, real substance »
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
If you want to get a glimpse of what’s possible in the area of urban redevelopment, take a trip to Milwaukee. I was among a group of business and civic leaders from Akron who recently visited that city to gain insights into their successes and learn how they are tackling ongoing challenges. It was an energizing experience for two reasons. One, I was impressed by what our gracious hosts had accomplished. Two, I knew Akron was embarking on much the same path, with what I believe to be great promise for the future.
Milwaukee is taking advantage of its own unique resources. The city is reinventing itself by systematically drawing on assets that already are part of the town. The Milwaukee River runs through the city’s heart, a characteristic the city has done well to capitalize on.
Milwaukee now has its vibrant RiverWalk along three miles of the central city. RiverWalk beautifully defines what’s new and promising about Milwaukee. You’ll find high-end housing, stores, restaurants and open walkways for art shows, music and festivals. This is the kind of place where people want to work, live and spend their time.
What was the critical first step to producing RiverWalk? Key community leaders came together and worked through the planning. City leaders talked to each other. That’s how the complex became a reality. While collaboration may seem to be a simple concept, it doesn’t happen everywhere. This kind of collaborative approach is what Akron and Milwaukee have in common.
Too often, communities are disrupted by siloed agencies, government bureaucracy and a divided business and nonprofit leadership. Communication is inconsistent.
In Akron, as in Milwaukee, a unified vision drives redevelopment efforts. With this kind of sharp focus on a viable future, University Park Alliance recently attracted KUD International, a leading international real estate developer, to be the project manager on the revitalization of a 50-block core area of our city.
This is a tremendous victory for our community, but it didn’t occur overnight. It is an outgrowth of years of city leaders talking to each other, weighing possibilities on how to parlay existing assets into new opportunities, and then creating the right structure to enable success.
UPA exists for this reason. We were created as a real estate development corporation to advance deals — such as the one with our new real estate development partner, KUD.
Akron’s leaders were so persistent in the need for this type of new organizational structure that they convinced the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to provide the necessary major funding.
This is the new-economy approach. It’s about leaders coming together, assessing unique strengths that already exist, developing creative financing and ultimately, creating and executing a master plan for implementation.
Yes, RiverWalk is a fantastic achievement other cities no doubt hope to emulate in one form or fashion. You’ll see if you visit. Akron, too, is building its own success. In the coming months and years, Akron and UPA will host leaders from other cities, and share our secrets to redevelopment success. Of this, I am quite sure.
Tags: Akron Beacon Journal, Collaboration, Community, Leadership, Placemaking, Urban Neighborhoods, Vision, Walkability
Posted in Leadership, Placemaking, University Park Alliance, UP Akron | No Comments »
Monday, June 6th, 2011
If you’ve read about University Park Alliance in the news, you know about our initiative to develop a 50-block area around The University of Akron. We have key parts of the plan in place, and importantly, we have the backing of anchor institutions in downtown Akron, plus investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
As we see it, there is no better timing in recent history to turn a vision like ours into reality. Increasingly, people are choosing to live in cities.
Last year, in an article titled “Back to the City”, Harvard Business Review identified a “major shift” away from suburban sprawl — not just because of changing tastes, but because of real problems related to suburbs. One study showed that measured against a number of daily activities, commuting had the worst effect of all on people’s moods.
Imagine what those moods will be like if gasoline goes to $5 a gallon.
In addition to young workers, aging Baby Boomers are part of the migration back to cities. The reasons are pretty clear. As kids move out and retirement approaches, there is a lot to like about smaller, low-maintenance homes, less yard work and less expensive lifestyle.
My prediction is that once the tide turns, growth will occur naturally and spontaneously as retailers follow consumers. Already, the trade publication National Real Estate Investor has suggested real estate investors expect changing strategies from retailers.
In Akron, we’re ready to go. Our plans are for just the kind of mixed-use, dense development that is drawing people back into cities around the country. See this article in the Akron Beacon Journal for an overview of our vision.
At best, an urban setting offers such interesting variety that it creates its own dynamic. On one hand, diverse people of all ages live in nice homes, in safe neighborhoods, and within walking distance to stores, schools, parks, restaurants and other amenities. On the other hand, urban neighborhoods offer the promise of a simpler way of life — where you might even sit on the front porch on a summer evening.
Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about commercial and residential real estate opportunities in University Park.
Tags: Akron Beacon Journal, Anchor Institutions, Baby Boomers, Knight Foundation, National Real Estate Investor Journal, Parks, Schools, Suburban Sprawl, The University of Akron, University Park, University Park Alliance, Vision, Walkability
Posted in University Park Alliance | No Comments »