|University Polymer Research Park Redevelopment Plan
- Purpose of This Report
This report is to outline the conditions that substantially impair development of, and
plans and activities scheduled for the area described as the University Polymer Research
Park. The need for urban redevelopment tax increment funds, under provisions of the Ohio
Revised Code, §5709.41 - §5709.43 to finance significant public investment needed to
abate the above conditions, is set forth.
- Description of Project
- Location and Boundary Description of Redevelopment Area
The parcel parallels the CSX mainline tracks which connect Cleveland to Canton and points
- North of the site is Akron's Central Business District and
government center. The site is less than one mile from the center of Akron, the
intersection of Market and Main Streets.
- South of the site on South Broadway is access to I76, with
connections to I77 and other state routes. The University Polymer Research Park is
positioned to become a gateway to the central business district from the south.
- West of the site is the Opportunity Park Urban Renewal Area,
featuring the headquarters building of GoJo Industries, the adaptive reuse of the former
B.F. Goodrich manufacturing facility as Canal Place, the Tell Building site of Advanced
Elastomer Systems, and extensive light industrial and residential redevelopment.
- East of the site is the University of Akron, including its
Polymer Science Center and the Grant-Washington Urban Renewal Area. Also on the east edge
is the rail spur connecting the site to the CSX railroad.
In order for the City of Akron to remain a vital community and continue to deliver a high
quality of service to residents and businesses, the City must retain industrial jobs and
the corresponding tax revenues. Existing firms in the City of Akron face significant
constraints in expanding their operations, including finding available sites suitable for
development. The City actively seeks to retain firms seeking to expand by providing room
To this end, in 1995, the City of Akron acquired 26.52 acres of unused railroad
right-of-way, approximately one mile long, formerly owned by Consolidated Rail
New commercial and industrial development has been occurring outside of Akron for decades,
drawing residents and businesses from the City's tax base. Only 2% of Akron's
approximately 62 square mile area is vacant land. Based on current market data and real
estate reports, the shortage of available industrial buildings in the Akron area is
It has been demonstrated that expanding and new businesses will locate within Akron, if
appropriate sites are available. The Opportunity Park Urban Renewal Area, Ascot Industrial
Park, the Airport Development Area and the Akron Square Business Park all demonstrate
Akron's capability to promote new industrial development. Akron will market approximately
15 acres in the University Polymer Research Park for industrial redevelopment.
Within close proximity to the University Polymer Research Park site is the University of
Akron Polymer Science center, recognized as a world class research facility. There are
also several very successful industrial/commercial redevelopment projects in the vicinity.
The site is within the Akron Enterprise Community, and just west of the Grant-Washington
Urban Renewal area. It is also adjacent to the Opportunity Park renewal area, which
includes the award winning industrial reuse project Canal Place, the headquarters for
Advanced Elastomer Systems (AES) and GoJo Industries, and the city-owned Industrial
Akron has planned several major investments in the area immediately surrounding the
development site, including removal of the Broadway and High Street viaducts, and
replacement of the Opportunity Park parking deck. Recent private sector investments in the
area include redevelopment and expansion activities by the Akron Beacon Journal.
The area has been found to be blighted due to abandonment and neglect.
weeds and overgrown areas are potential habitat for rodents and a threat to health.
The isolated yet accessible site is prone to illegal dumping and other hazards.
Several hundred feet of retaining walls, which had supported a rail line at a
four foot higher elevation at the east side of the site, are crumbling.
The area is the last remaining instance of neglect surrounded by redevelopment on all
sides. The parcel extends for one mile along an arterial road from the city center to the
Interstate. The north end meets the Opportunity Park Renewal Area, and the landscaped
property of the Akron Area Board of Realtors.
Access to the Redevelopment Area has been limited for several reasons. First, while the
railroad was in operation, use was restricted to freight transportation purposes. Second,
the construction on the Broadway viaduct limited access points along the west side of the
area. Third, the active railroad line and the change in grade to the east further
restricts access to the site.
- Types of Proposed Redevelopment Actions
The City of Akron proposes to redevelop this vacant property into an economically
productive industrial park, creating opportunities to attract and retain commercial and
light industrial manufacturing jobs in the City.
The site may be subdivided into 2 to 4.5 acre parcels, suitable for 6 to 8
industrial/commercial facilities. The City will sell the parcels to project developers at
below market rates, in order to stimulate development.
- Relationship to the General Plan of the City of Akron
The planned redevelopment of the University Polymer Research Park area is consistent with
the overall development strategy for the City of Akron.
Increasing the availability of suitable land for commercial and industrial development is
an essential element of the City's efforts to sustain a robust income and tax base. Reuse
of vacant, usable land is one of the best tools available for industrial sector
In 1996, Site Selection Magazine ranked Akron 20th of 323 American cities for locating new
manufacturing plants. Among manufacturing businesses located in Akron, 82% employ fewer
than 50 workers, indicating the significance of small to medium sized businesses in the
- REDEVELOPMENT PLAN
- Land Use and Zoning
- Land Use Plan
- Land Use
The site is within a designated industrial use area in the City's Land Use Development
Guide Plan. The existing use is vacant industrial land.
- Land Use Provisions
Objectives under the Land Use Development Guide Plan include: a) actively promoting
Akron's vacant land for use by the City's existing industries as well as new manufacturers
that desire to relocate in Akron; b) developing industrial parks that provide attractive
sites, landscaping, building setbacks, and coverage controls to attract desirable
industrial development; and c) redevelop blighted commercial/industrial areas by public
and private means.
- Existing Zoning
This area is zoned U5 Ordinary Industry. The site is within height district H3, permitting
no structure in excess of 75 feet in height.
- Proposed Zoning
Zoning for the University Polymer Research park will be unchanged.
- Statement of Development Objectives
- Land Use Objectives
- To enhance the viability of the project area by promoting
development that is compatible with the character of the area and vicinity, and develops
the fullest potential of the district.
- To prohibit uses that are incompatible with the area and
vicinity, and would detract from overall redevelopment of the area.
- To prescribe high development standards to improve the
usefulness and appearance of the area. To be conducive to new business investment and to
attract new employment to the area.
- To complement ongoing development in Opportunity Park, the
Grant-Washington Urban Renewal area and the University of Akron.
- Environmental Objectives
- To eliminate substandard physical conditions, environmental
hazards and unsanitary conditions that exist within the project area.
- To correct problems within the project area that may
threaten health and safety.
- To improve the functional, physical and aesthetic condition
of the project area.
- Public Improvement Objectives
- To correct deficiencies in existing physical conditions on
or serving the redevelopment area.
- To upgrade the condition of the streetscape of South
Broadway and to enhance the utility and appearance of the area to suit redevelopment.
- To plan public improvements needed to facilitate
- Economic Objectives
- To maintain or increase employment opportunities within the
City of Akron.
- To enhance property tax revenues through new construction
within the redevelopment area.
- To undertake redevelopment activities demonstrating
investment and confidence in the area, and to encourage additional public and private
- To encourage the reuse of underutilized vacant land.
- Project Proposals
- Land Acquisition
The City of Akron acquired the 26.52 acres to be redeveloped from the Consolidated Rail
Corporation in 1995.
- Rehabilitation and Conservation
- Rail Spur Relocation
An active railroad switch previously located at the southern portion of the parcel has
been relocated to the north to create a more usable development area.
- Remediation of environmental contaminants
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was conducted on this site in 1995, and a Phase II
assessment in 1997. Subsequent remediation activities recommended by those studies are
limited to soil testing and groundwater monitoring wells. Spot remediation is scheduled
for the year 2000.
- Roadway access and infrastructure
Redevelopment will require the extension of McCoy Street approximately 250 feet further
east into the parcel, ending in a cul-de-sac. The 32 foot wide curbed roadway will be
built within a 60 foot right-of-way, containing water, sewer, gas, underground electric
and telephone lines to meet industrial and commercial service requirements.
- Broadway and High Street viaduct replacement.
The City of Akron will invest an estimated $9.6 million to demolish the Broadway and High
Street viaducts, and build at grade roadways with full utilities. Access to the central
portion of the redevelopment area will be via S. Broadway, after the year 2002.
Engineering studies are already underway, with the work scheduled to begin in 2001. New
utility extensions along the length of Broadway will service the redevelopment area.
- Redeveloper's Obligations
- Developers will be obligated to construct and maintain the
structures and facilities in accordance with all codes and ordinances of the City of
Akron, and must abide by the development standards prepared for the area.
- Construction upon land sold or leased by the City shall be
in accordance with all the terms and conditions of a Redevelopment Agreement executed by
the City of Akron and the project developer. Such Redevelopment Agreement shall contain
the requirement that all building plans shall be reviewed by the Urban Design and Historic
Preservation Commission and the Akron City Planning Commission prior to conveyance of the
- Development Standards
- All development shall conform to the standards as
established in the subchapter on Development and Area district Requirements at §153.285
et seq. of the Akron Zoning Code, except where other standards are noted in this document.
- All manufacturing, processing, crating and uncrating service
and repair operations shall be conducted within completely enclosed buildings.
- All outdoor storage areas and loading or unloading bay areas
shall be screened from view by solid walls or solid fences or landscaping at least six
feet in height. Such fencing and screening material shall be reviewed and approved by the
Department of Planning and Urban Development (DPUD).
- Sewers must be provided for the area prior to construction,
and these sewers must be subject to the approval of the City Sewer Engineer and the Ohio
- The minimum building line shall conform to §153.297(D), but
shall be a minimum of 25 feet and need not be more than 75 feet. Each building site shall
have a minimum of 30% green space, landscaped according to standards in the Akron
Development Guide. The minimum setback from property lines shall be 10 feet. The side and
rear yards must conform with §153.287(B) 1 and 2, but shall be a minimum of 10 feet.
These areas are to be landscaped according to standards found in the Akron Development
Guide and shall require approval of the DPUD.
- All sides of buildings shall be faced with brick, stone,
split rock or other similar approved facing material. Common block is not permitted. Color
shall be integral to the building product. Construction materials for exterior surfaces
are subject to approval of the DPUD.
- Off street parking areas shall extend no closer to the
street line or any property line than 10 feet. Interior parking lot landscaping shall
consist of shade trees in curbed islands and an approximate spacing of 100 feet. Parking
lot and site lighting standards shall not exceed 35 feet in height. The area between the
parking area and the street line shall be landscaped according to standards found in the
Akron Development Guide and shall require approval of the DPUD. All parking and drives
shall be paved to Bureau of Engineering standards. Perimeter of lots and interior islands
shall be curbed with full-depth, poured in place concrete curb.
- All signs shall comply with the subchapter on On-Premises
Exterior Signs at §153.305 et seq., with the additional provision that only flush mounted
signs or ground signs less than 5 feet in height will be permitted. Ground signs shall be
a minimum 10 feet behind the right of way, and materials shall resemble and be compatible
with building material. Information on signs shall be limited to business or project
identification, logo and address. Multiple signs shall not be permitted for multi-tenant
buildings. The design, size of lettering and lighting of all signs shall be submitted for
review and approval by the Department of Planning and Urban Development.
- Duration of Controls
This Redevelopment Plan shall be in force and effect for a period of 30 years from the
date of original approval by the City of Akron.
- Other Provisions Necessary to Meet State and Local
- Relationship to Local Objectives
The objectives and proposals of this Redevelopment Plan conform with the Land Use
Development Guide Plan for the City of Akron.
- Provision for Amending Plan
This Redevelopment Plan may be amended upon approval by the City Planning Commission and
City Council. Any amendment which does not expand the project boundary shall not require
further notice or hearing.
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