A recent press release from the city of Akron that discusses the possible future of the Mayflower Manor hotel suggests to some that the building is unsafe.
Check out the headline: "Mayor to Secure Safe Housing for Akron's Most Vulnerable"
And the subheadline: "Building Needs Total Renovation; Unsafe for Residents"
In fact, some form of the word "safe" is used 7 times in the release ( "...provide new, safe and secure housing ... ", " ... found enough safe and secure units ..."). In all fairness, some of the references were directly linked to the renovations, with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic saying that residents would have to move out before major renovations could begin - for their own health and safety.
The building is safe, according the current owner and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"For the people that live there currently, the building is safe," said Howard Chapman, attorney for the company that manages the building. "It received an extremely high, the highest, rating from its most recent federal inspection."
The building was given a 96 out of 100 in its most recent HUD inspection, which took place in October. Problems were pointed out in the report, but none that suggest the building, overall, isn't safe. However, issues of safety are not the same as issues that could indicate a need to renovate. There are some missing ceiling tiles and a broken refrigerator in a common area and several units have damaged appliances, some water stains or broken locks.
The city's press release and a subsequent interview with Communications Director Stephanie York make it sound more necessary that what Chapman seems to indicate.
As for needing "total renovation," that depends on the building's use. Right now, according Chapman, the renovations sounds less immediate. He says the heating, venting and air conditioning are all in working order, but he fully expects major systems to need replaced, but the 200+ unit low-income housing that includes many disabled or elderly people, seems fine right now.
"It is in very poor condition, so the city is applying for a HUD 108 loan and they would like to purchase and help a private developer rehabilitate the building," said York. "It really needs to be gutted and rehabilitated from the ground up."
York says it's all about prevention, suggesting the building would be non-functional in the next decade or two if something isn't done now to save it. York says the current owner has only put temporary fixes on some of the major problems and wants to get rid of it. She says if there were an extensive power outage, the age of the electrical system could prevent prompt service restoration in a building full of people who can't afford to rent hotel rooms. Many may not have families to take them in.
"The residents at the building are extremely happy with living there and with the management," said Chapman.
If the building is safe, possibly not in immediate need of total renovation and the people who live there happy, why is the city involved? AkronNewsNow asked Chapman: Who came to the table first? Was there a desire to sell or whether that desire only derived from a possible offer from the city of Akron?
"Currently, there is no contact to sell the building," said Chapman. "The city of Akron and the mayor are looking at proposals for helping the downtown in Akron and the city is not the one that would be putting up money to buy the building. The city is looking for developers and for federal money to come in and to rehab the building and make its use fit into the city of Akron's downtown."
How could the building fit into the city of Akron's downtown? City officials say "the market will dictate" the Mayflower Manor's future.
"If it comes to be that the person that renovates this and wants to make it a low income housing unit or for the elderly or for the disabled or for market rate apartments or for student housing - whatever they want to make it, if they're going to renovate it and they think it's going to work, we will be supportive," said York.
Both sides emphasize that any deal with Akron is contingent on a federal loan approval.
The City of Akron is ready for the future of the automobile. The city has installed vehicle recharging stations in five different parking decks within the city. The stations are located in the O’Neils’ deck, Broadway deck, Citicenter Deck, Superblock deck and Cascade deck.
Motorists would not pay for re-charging but would have to pay for parking to enter the decks.
Akron City Communications Director Stephanie York says the charging stations are part of the city's Greenprint For Akron environmental initiative implemented by Mayor Plusquellic in 2007
The Mayor says the charging stations are located to reduce low battery concerns for owners of electric and hybrid vehicles and to permit visitors, residents and downtown workers to recharge their vehicles while at work, shopping or visiting downtown businesses.
News Release From The City Of Akron
Late last year, the City of Akron installed 5 AC Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment stations within different parking decks within the city. The stations are located in the O’Neils’ deck, Broadway deck, Citicenter Deck, Superblock deck and Cascade deck. The stations can fully charge most electric vehicles in 4 to 6 hours. The only cost for the user is for parking. Signs will be posted at the entrances of each deck which house these charging stations.
“These five stations are located to reduce low battery anxiety and to permit visitors, residents and downtown workers to recharge their vehicles while at work, shopping or visiting our downtown amenities,” noted Mayor Don Plusquellic.
These stations are just another step in furtherance of Akron’s Greenprint. Specifically, on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, the City of Akron introduced a sustainability plan. This living document is the Greenprint for Akron. Greenprint for Akron creates an environmental partnership to foster a sustainable, eco-friendly community through education and leadership. Greenprint sets a vision for a sustainable community that contributes to climate and environmental protection which will create opportunities for a healthier quality of life and for economic growth. Use of electric vehicles and other alternative forms of energy are being reviewed and implemented within the city with primary focus on achieving the goals of this plan.
In 2007, Mayor Plusquellic launched a new initiative to create a “Greenprint” for Akron. The Greenprint targets the most cost-effective initiatives to help the City and community reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save on energy and operational costs, and utilize those savings as a springboard to help revitalize an economy hit hard by the recession.
Since initiating its Greenprint, Akron has become a leader when it comes to innovative solutions to environmental problems. The City is not only effectuating change in its government operations, but it is inspiring change throughout the community. The City’s most recent Greenhouse Gas Emissions Survey indicates a 13% reduction in government emissions from 2005 to 2009, well ahead of its plan for a 5% reduction by 2013.
Funding for the project was provided through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program grant through Clean Fuels Ohio and a 50% match was provided by the City of Akron. The design and installation of the stations was completed using City of Akron personnel.
Akron City Council approves the sale of land on White Pond Drive to a Florida company, for the construction of a new medical office complex.
City Spokesperson Stephanie York says the move will create jobs within the healh-care field.
"We're hoping to 40 medically-related jobs out of it," she says. "There will be some empty space available so that potentially more jobs can come in."
This is the first sale of the 70 acres, owned by Akron, available for development.
The Jupiter,Florida-based company Rendina LLC has expressed an interest in the former Zazo property. The sale price is based on its appraised value minus the cost of soil remediation.
York says the City hopes this first venture will generate more office development within the new White Pond Office Park.
"We're hoping that this first building will spur more office development to add more job opportunities for people."
Akron has made initatives in the medical field before with the implementation of the Biomedical Corridor and other ventures.
York says this was important for the city's medical footprint.
"I think it shows how the medical field is growing, and it won't just be in the Biomedical Corridor, but their expanding into other parts of Akron that have available land and medical buildings," she said.
"Certainly with the influx of these medical jobs, we will need more places for them to go, so we are excited about this."
Akron city officials have closed the Summit Lake Community Center after it lost power back on January 3rd when a car struck a utility pole at the corner of Lakeshore and Kenmore Boulevards, taking out city owned transformers.
City spokesperson Stephanie York says the city is working on replacing the transformers as soon as possible.
"We are hopeful that we have found one in Cleveland and within the next week we can get the doors back open and get everyone back in the Community Center."
The driver of the car fled the scene, causing extensive property damage.
York said once city crews learned of the incident, they acted quickly.
"Our city crews got out there quickly, surrounded the building and are working hard to get power back to the building."
Currently, the Community Center is without heat and electricity, while Akron crews are working with FirstEnergy to develop a solution that can be implemented quickly to reopen the Center.
Press Release from the City of Akron:
On Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at approximately 9 a.m., a car struck a utility pole at the corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and Kenmore Boulevard in Akron, Ohio. The vehicle left the scene of the accident, leaving behind extensive property damage.
Not only was the utility pole damaged, but City of Akron transformers were rendered inoperable causing an electricity outage to the Summit Lake Community Center.
Currently, the Community Center is without heat and electricity, and the building is closed. Once the City learned of the incident, City crews arrived on site quickly and winterized the building to prevent interior damage.
"We are working very hard to replace the transformers in a timely manner so that our citizens can start using the Community Center again as soon as possible," said Rick Merolla, Akron’s Service Director. "Replacing transformers is not a routine maintenance issue. Normally, large electrical transformers are replaced and maintained on a scheduled basis. We don’t keep spare transformers in our inventory. The usual lead time for purchasing a large transformer such as this is eight to ten weeks, and even used transformers can take up to six weeks to find and install. However, Akron citizens can rest assured that we are working as expeditiously as possible so that we can reopen in short order."
The City has also contacted First Energy, who is assisting in developing a solution that can be implemented quickly.
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