Akron’s Bowery project meets major deadlines, nears finish lineMonday January 27, 2020
The Bowery redevelopment project intended to revitalize a prominent part of downtown Akron made it to the Thanksgiving finish line — with some pieces not quite over that line just yet.
Most of the six downtown buildings have met their major construction deadlines, although finishing work on the long-vacant and blighted smaller structures will continue into upcoming weeks, said Don Taylor, head of Welty Building Co., general contractor and partner in the Bowery Development Group.
The tallest building at South Main and Bowery, the Landmark Building, met its Nov. 28 occupancy deadline, Taylor said.
“It’s done,” he said.
The upper floors have been converted into apartments, while ground-level space is intended for retail/commercial tenants.
Work of another kind to woo tenants to rent the 92 upper-level apartments and businesses to lease the ground-level retail spaces is continuing. It’s all aimed at a long-term goal of transforming downtown into a work-play-live area and spurring other nearby development and redevelopment. The group commissioned a study earlier this year that projects the Bowery will generate $245 million in direct and indirect economic impact over the next 20 years.
But first, the group needs to fill all those empty spaces.
The Bowery is offering what the group calls luxury apartments, with single-bedroom units starting at $910 per month, two-bedroom units starting at $1,940 per month, and penthouse apartments starting at $2,032 per month.
The Bowery group is talking with prospective commercial tenants but has not signed anyone yet, Taylor said. There’s interest in the spaces but prospects have been put off by the Main Street reconstruction taking place in front, Taylor said. That issue may be resolved soon if weather does not delay planned repaving and sidewalk work in upcoming weeks, he said.
Many of the Bowery’s ground-level storefront spaces will be finished with drywall and other work over the next several weeks, Taylor said.
As work took place in the smaller buildings, crews found “significant structural issues” that needed to be resolved, he said.
“I would much have preferred to not have so much drama,” Taylor said. “What the team has done is pretty heroic.”
The last major piece of the project puzzle, the interior renovation of the Whitelaw Building into a small performance space for the next-door Akron Civic Theatre, is expected to take a couple of months into 2020 to finish, Taylor said.
Crews began putting a new roof on the Whitelaw Building earlier this week; it has been topless for much of the year.
Even as finishing work continues into December, the Bowery project will meet all of its financing deadlines, Taylor said. The group had said when work started a year ago it needed to be finished by the end of November to qualify for critical historic tax credits.
Turns out, there was flexibility on that financing deadline.
There are no issues with the financing of the $42 million project, Taylor said.
“We’re meeting the project budget,” he said.
Higher-than-expected costs to redo the Whitelaw Building will be absorbed by the development group, Taylor said.That part of the project ran into delays while negotiations took place with state historic preservation officials over the design of the performance space. The Civic needed unobstructed views of the stage area but two columns were in the way, and their removal needed to be worked out with the state officials, Taylor said.
The approved design incorporates a two-story opening and a catwalk, all of which provides unobstructed views of the stage, he said.
“We now have approval for everything we need to do,” Taylor said. And that is a “real victory for the Civic,” he said.
Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ