Mayor Horrigan Releases Updated City Housing Strategy “Planning To Grow Akron 2.0”
Akron, Ohio, May 13, 2021 — Yesterday, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and the City’s Office of Integrated Development introduced Planning to Grow Akron 2.0 at the inaugural APEX event. Planning to Grow Akron – The City Housing Strategy (“PTGA”) was introduced in February 2017 and included a review of Akron’s existing housing supply, programs, demand, conditions and strategies. Recommendations in the plan were intended to reverse the trend of Akron’s declining population and facilitate new investment in the City. At the APEX event yesterday, speakers covered the information contained in the updated housing strategy Planning to Grow Akron 2.0 which is now available for download at apexakron.com.
"Since the day I took office, I have said that I won't manage Akron's decline, but will instead focus on growing the city's population and strengthening its economy," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "I am proud to say that we are making significant progress on that goal. Releasing Planning to Grow Akron 2.0 is the next step of this process. This report builds on the work of the first one, with a particular focus on getting more of our older homes rehabilitated and reforming our zoning code to create more opportunities for families to live, and for small businesses to grow in Akron. I look forward to partnering across the public and private sectors to create real value and real opportunity for Akron residents and businesses to thrive."
The report highlights major successes since the original PTGA report was released, including:
Adoption of a citywide 15-year residential property tax abatement program in April 2017
An increase in the number of housing units constructed from less than two-dozen in 2015, to nearly 1,800 now completed or in development (442 complete, 1373 under development)
An increase in the median sales price of a home in Akron from $56,000 in 2015 to $101,000 in 2020
Akron was ranked as the 12th hottest housing market in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal (April 2021)
Akron was ranked as the 3rd most affordable rental housing market in the nation, according to Bloomberg (May 2021)
Creation of neighborhood plans in Kenmore, Middlebury, and University Park
Adoption of a form-based zoning overlay and historic district along Kenmore Boulevard
“While the original plan succeeded in stabilizing the City, it did not address the 'chronic diseases’ that put Akron’s housing market into such a dire situation in the first place,” said Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development, James Hardy. “Community-wide issues such as a lack of traditional lending options, rapidly aging housing stock, record levels of demolition, the legacy of racism and more continue to plague housing in Akron. In this new plan, we seek to address some of these systemic issues head-on.”
Planning to Grow Akron 2.0 also addresses neighborhood stabilization by introducing new strategies to strengthen existing neighborhoods, including:
Establish Middle Neighborhood Districts and develop strategies for these areas
Develop City-Owned Vacant Parcels
Redevelop Summit Lake and Middlebury Neighborhoods
Revise the Zoning Code to focus on “Missing Middle” Housing
Create a new “Appraisal Gap” Housing Incentive
Undertake a City-Wide Comprehensive Plan and City-Wide Assessment of Existing Housing Conditions
Develop Proactive City-Wide Code Enforcement Recommendations
Explore participating in the Summit County Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Increase the Supply of Affordable Rental Units
Create a Tenant / Landlord Commission to Improve Tenant / Landlord Relationships
Establish Design Guidelines for New Construction
Promote Adaptive Re-use of Buildings
Increase Marketing of the Tax Abatement Program and the City as a Place to Live
“We do face competition from the suburbs when it comes to housing in our communities, particularly with younger generations and first-time home owners,” said Jason Segedy, Director of Planning and Urban Development. “Our plan to continue to strengthen our Middle Neighborhoods and provide sustainable, affordable housing is not only about gaining new residents and new housing opportunities, but retaining existing residents and adding value to their homes, their businesses and their neighborhoods.”
Other presenters appeared from areas around Akron including the Kenmore business district and the Middlebury District, whose organizations strive for equity, inclusiveness and livability in those historic neighborhoods.
“As we’re looking at the ‘missing middle’ housing opportunities, including apartments, duplexes, townhomes as well as single-family detached houses, we want to ensure we preserve the integrity of these communities,” said Zac Kohl, Executive Director of The Well CDC. “But we also want to ensure fairness, justice and equity in our neighborhoods, providing not only affordable housing but safe, walkable, inclusive neighborhoods that uplift everyone and inspire others.”
The event concluded with a question and answer session with Deputy Mayor Hardy and an update about the City’s recent Developer Conference by the City's Innovation & Entrepreneurship Advocate, Heather Roszczyk. The next APEX event is scheduled to be held in fall 2021 with plans to be an in-person event.