The impact of Akron’s $42-million Bowery project—which will rehab a half dozen historic buildings into one mixed-use complex—will resonate farther than just downtown Akron.
Financing for the project, which includes local New Market Tax Credits from Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), closed on Nov. 16, coinciding with the groundbreaking. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2019 and will produce 92 apartment units across the buildings as well as a 200-seat theater in the Civic Auditorium that will anchor the project and is expected to add 100 new events each year to the city. An additional 36,000 square feet of retail; 4,000 square feet of boutique office space; and 150 parking spaces reserved for the project in an adjacent city-owned garage are included as well.
The project is strategically located at the intersection of Bowery and Main, blocks from the Akron Children’s Museum, Canal Park (Home of the Akron Rubber Ducks, the AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians), the University of Akron, and a key intersection of the historic downtown Akron business district.
Drawing in visitors
Howard Parr of the Akron Civic Theatre said the ripple effects of the development project will be felt well outside of Akron’s city borders via the influx of visitors from surrounding Northeast Ohio communities who will be drawn in by the additional events hosted downtown. Showcasing the city’s renovated, historic structures will aid in bringing people in, too, he said.
“It’s a total transformation,” he said. “We’re not just restoring the past, but we’re also creating a future.”
Parr lauded the coordinated effort it took to put the project together, which included CDA; the Bowery Development Group; the Development Finance Authority of Summit County; the Downtown Akron Partnership; Huntington Bancshares; LDA Architects; the John S. Knight Foundation; National Trust Community Investment Corporation; the GAR Foundation; the Summit County Land Bank; The Community Builders; and Welty Building Company.
“Every single aspect of the community: the public and private sectors, the nonprofits and for-profits, they’re all working toward the same end and that’s essentially what it takes for it to be a successful project,” Parr said.
Ohio & Erie Canal impact
Dan Rice of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, the Akron-area non-profit canal advocacy organization, also pointed to an increase in activity and use of the nature trails as a result of the work being done at the Bowery that is enhancing the city’s common spaces.
With its strategic location at the gateway to the Towpath Trail connector in downtown Akron, the Bowery will change the face of Akron for thousands of visitors. Instead of a series of beautiful-but-deteriorated buildings, visitors will now find historically renovated reminders of the golden-age of American manufacturing, bustling with restaurants, retail, and ongoing programming along Locks 3 & 4 thanks to the Akron Civic Theatre. Akron stands to benefit from the increased economic impact of more people using the trail system through things such as lodging, bike rentals, canoe deliveries, rental income, additional activity at local restaurants, and more, he said.
“This is crucial to our continued economic development in downtown Akron,” he said. “I’m extremely excited.”
The inclusion of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), which contributed a total of $20 million of financing for the project, proved critical for the Bowery. Redevelopment would not have been possible without that capital. CDA provided the NMTCs at the local level while at the national level, the NMTCs were provided by National Trust Community Investment and Community Builders. Additional financing was secured via a mix of historic tax credits; tax increment financing; HUD 108 financing; FHTC equity; SHTC equity; land bank grant; conventional debt; and owner financing.
The Bowery project represents a significant milestone for CDA, which has invested more than $400 million in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County projects during the past three decades, as it marks the first time CDA has gone outside of that region in providing financing. It’s also a watershed moment for Akron and could lead to future collaboration with groups across the region in reshaping Northeast Ohio.
“At CDA, we always look to create the maximum return for residents and businesses of a community when we invest NMTCs in a project,” CDA President Yvette Ittu said. “That means creating quality jobs during and after construction, developing housing and commercial space that helps neighborhoods thrive and providing community services like access to healthy food and recreation space. This project checks all the boxes. With anchor tenants like the Akron Civic Theater, the existing community space at Locks 3 and 4 and the proximity to the towpath and the nationally renowned Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it was clear this project needed to be done for the City of Akron, its residents and all of Northeast Ohio.”
Added DeHoff Development Company President Dan DeHoff: “But for the NMTCs, this project would not be possible. We had to compete nationally for this finite and critical resource and through an amazing collaboration with public and private community leadership, we came together to focus on our shared goal to secure this last piece of financing.
CDA’s mission is to invest in real estate and business projects intended to attract additional development with the overall goal of improving the character and vitality of Greater Cleveland. Click here to learn about other CDA projects.