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Crain’s 2022 Power 150

2022 Crain’s Power 150 celebrates and honors some of Ohio’s best and brightest. From CEOs and politicians to philanthropists and entrepreneurs, Crain’s Power 150 is a snapshot of those leading some of Northeast Ohio’s most influential organizations and are in a position to move the region forward.

Highlighted involvement: Team NEO, Greater Akron Chamber

In the news: As CEO of the Welty Building Co. since 1999, Taylor has followed his lifelong love of the construction industry into a role as not only a successful businessman but also as a community leader. He was integral in getting Akron’s Bowery District built and full of residential tenants and is a major player in Sherwin-Williams Co.’s development in downtown Cleveland.

 

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Crain’s 2020 Power 150

 

From CEOs and politicians to philanthropists and entrepreneurs, Crain’s “Power 150” list is just a snapshot of those leading some of Northeast Ohio’s most influential organizations and who are in a position to move the region forward. There were no specific criteria used in selecting the “Power 150,” nor were they chosen through a nomination process. Rather, our editorial staff collectively gathered names, taking into consideration each person’s role in Northeast Ohio and that of their organization. An effort was made to include a range of people, businesses and industries. In some instances — as was the case with Case Western Reserve University — a delayed replacement in a permanent leadership position resulted in exclusion from the list. Because many of those listed serve on multiple boards, we limited highlighted involvement to three organizations or efforts. The 2020 “Power 150” is an updated version of the 2014 “Power 150” and the 2017 “Who’s Who in Northeast Ohio” lists.

 

By:  ERIC POSTON
Akron.com

Downtown Akron to open Akron History Center Next Year

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A dedicated space to tell the history of the City of Akron is expected to open next December. Construction of the Akron History Center at the Bowery is underway in Building D in the Bowery District, located at 172 S. Main St. near the intersection of South Main and Bowery streets. The Center will consist of three floors totaling approximately 3,000 square feet. Akron historian Dave Lieberth said the space is the “perfect location” as the building is in Downtown Akron and in an historic district. He added the idea of a history museum is something he has had in the back of his mind for the past 40 years. Planning for a rubber museum in Akron began in 1979 when University of Akron (UA) President Dominic Guzzetta proposed a new museum chronicling the history of the rubber industry. Lieberth, at the time a 32-year-old trustee of the Summit County Historical Society, led a committee that conducted a comprehensive review to determine whether or not Akron could support such a new museum — given that prior initiatives (1959, 1963 and 1970) were never executed.

Lieberth added that in 1987, when UA president William Muse was asked to help bring the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) to Akron, the 1980 report was dusted off. With a commitment from the Ohio Historical Society, this report was foundational to the decision by the National Council of Intellectual Property Lawyers to move the NIHF to Akron. He said with Akron’s 2025 Bicentennial celebration approaching, this was an opportunity to make the history center a reality.
“Akron is the only major city in Ohio without one,” Lieberth said.

He said planning and gathering collections for the exhibits has already begun. Development consultant for the project is Deborah McVay Williams, of Time to Spare LLC, and the design process is being led by Barrie Projects, of Cleveland Heights.

In addition, the Summit County Historical Society has established a relationship with the center, with President and CEO Leianne Neff Heppner as the curatorial consultant for the center and in charge of artifacts to be loaned from the society’s collections to the center for display, Lieberth said. The total cost for the project is estimated at $2 million and fundraising efforts so far have totaled more than $1 million in commitments, Lieberth said. The commitments include $500,000 from the City of Akron, $100,000 from Summit County government and $100,000 from the Akron Community Foundation, he added. “We’re excited to be a part of this effort that has been decades in the making,” said John Petures Jr., president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation. “The foundation at its core is dedicated to making a lasting impact on our community, and I can think of no better way to do that than by helping to preserve the history of our community.” Lieberth said there is about $400,000 outstanding in requests and a fundraising campaign will launch in the first quarter of 2023 aimed at businesses more than 60 years old.

The history center exhibits will feature the founding of Akron, the geology of Akron, construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal and the clay products and rubber industries. Exhibits will also look at the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron in 1935 and the American cereal industry, which was founded in Akron with Quaker Oats a 140-year fixture of Akron’s skyline in a factory where Cascade Plaza is located today. There will also be a focus on famous Akron residents such as the late Judith Resnik and music groups such as Devo and The Black Keys. Lieberth said there are many stories of Akron history that have not been told or have been forgotten, such as race relations and Akron City Hall being burned to the ground, just to name a few. “These stories need to be told,” he said. “It is important that people know the past that may have been forgotten or underreported.” The history center will be operated by the Akron-Summit County Public Library, but a license agreement that will detail the responsibilities of all parties is still to be completed and is expected to be presented to the Board of Trustees for the library in the first quarter of 2023, according to Lieberth.

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By: DAN SHINGLER 
Crain’s Cleveland Business

Analysis: Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan will be tough act to follow

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, who on Tuesday, Oct. 4, announced he will not seek re-election when his current term ends next year, gets high marks from local business and civic leaders who have long followed the city’s politics. He also leaves some important initiatives they hope his successor will continue.

Horrigan hasn’t been perfect, they say. But he moved the ball forward on important issues ranging from health care in the city to development downtown and elsewhere. And he did much of it, they note, while grappling with unprecedented issues they say would challenge, if not topple, most any city leader.

The points in Horrigan’s favor include reviving the downtown Bowery project, linking it with a new developer in Welty Building Co., and turning the $40-plus million project and its 92 apartments into a downtown anchor.

He also gets credit for spurring residential development across the city with a housing tax-abatement program, helping the city’s hospitals grow, improving health care equity, and supporting the city’s neighborhoods and community development organizations.

Overall, life and business conditions in Akron have improved under Horrigan, say business and civic leaders, who are still supportive of the mayor.

On the downside, his supporters say he might have done a better job managing construction on the city’s big Main Street redevelopment project, which significantly improved the appearance of downtown’s central corridor but took more than two years to complete.

He also saw the city shut down due to COVID and the shooting of Akron resident Jayland Walker by city police officers in June, followed by protests that kept parts of downtown shuttered even after the construction and pandemic had passed. Those last issues were not Horrigan’s fault, they note, but the buck always stops at the mayor’s office.

“He was definitely more open to meeting and talking. We would have liked to have seen a more developed plan for the downtown development,” said Welty CEO Don Taylor. “But there’s been a lot going on since he was mayor. Main Street was torn up for years, then we had COVID, then we had the protests; there were a lot of distractions. So, it’s been a bucking bronco for this mayor to ride.”

But Taylor gives Horrigan credit for helping to guide Bowery to its finish and, more importantly, for emphasizing the need for Akron to rebuild some of the population it has lost in recent decades and to incentivize people to build and live in town with a 15-year abatement on new construction and residential improvements.

“I think there’s a direct correlation between the activity we’ve seen and the incentive of the abatement,” Taylor said, “especially downtown in the central corridor.”

Dave Lieberth is known to many Akronites as a former broadcast journalist and to local leaders for 40 years of civic involvement and as a confidant and adviser to every mayor since he organized the inauguration of Tom Sawyer in 1984. He said Horrigan was the right mayor at the right time when he came to office following the turbulent final year of former Mayor Don Plusquellic in 2015 and the two mayors who replaced Plusquellic for very short periods.

“His temperament and personality made a huge impact,” Lieberth said. “City Hall was somewhat in disarray when he took office, having had three mayors in 45 days. … So first he had to stabilize everything, and he did.”

Lieberth said Horrigan had good years between 2016 and 2020, when he got the majority of his accomplishments done and repaired relationships within the city and between Akron and neighboring Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge. Lieberth hopes those achievements aren’t overshadowed by the COVID pandemic and downtown protests that have come since.

“I think he has a lot of accomplishments to his name. It’s like the Olympics. You have to take the high with the lows, and the low was certainly this year,” Lieberth said.

Lieberth also said Horrigan “moved the needle” when it comes to improving health care equity in Akron. But he believes the mayor’s standout accomplishments have been to reinvigorate residential development and to manage the city’s federally mandated sewer project, which originally had a price tag of $1.6 billion and now is expected to cost about $1.2 billion to complete.

Horrigan doesn’t get enough credit for shaving hundreds of millions of dollars from that bill, Lieberth maintains. Residents have been focused on increased sewer rates, but their rates are not higher than other Ohio cities and would be higher if the project had not been well-managed, Lieberth said.

He agrees that the Main Street construction took too long, and that when the long construction was followed by COVID shutdowns, it proved more than many downtown businesses could withstand.

But downtown has also seen significant investments, he said, and is improving as a place to live, visit and work.

“The Bowery Project simply would not have happened without him, so he gets an A+ on that. The Bowery lay fallow under the previous three mayors,” Lieberth said. “Also, Stark State built their Akron campus, and Summa built a $60 million tower. … For the first time in years, there are people walking dogs downtown.”

Of course, what’s important now is what will happen next: Who will be Akron’s next mayor, and what will be their priorities?

In business circles at least, there’s hope that the next mayor will continue to push for more residential development and population growth, while also addressing challenges such as finishing the sewer project and establishing a police-conduct review system that meets residents’ concerns.

Some in the business community already are beginning to support Marco Summerville, Akron’s deputy mayor who announced his candidacy Wednesday, Oct. 5, and was endorsed by Horrigan the next day.

“We have some good momentum on downtown housing, and that needs to continue. That’s an area where Marco will be valuable because he knows these developers and has worked with them many times,” said Bill Considine, a former president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital who remains a civic leader. “You need a person who knows how to play in the sandbox with others.”

But it’s early in the selection process, and other candidates, such as Akron City Councilman Shammas Malik, also may be strong contenders in the upcoming race — especially among more progressive Democrats.

Greater Akron Chamber president and CEO Steve Millard echoed others when he praised Horrigan for collaborating well with business and other civic leaders. Whoever becomes the next mayor needs to continue in that spirit, he said.

“It’s a big job that will take energy, ideas and a commitment to stay on track amidst a lot of potential distraction,” Millard said via email. “We need someone with a willingness to continue as an active leader and supporter of the collaborative work we are doing. We need someone that will manage a strong team of leaders within their administration and continue to look to a broader ecosystem of partners and collaborators to help set the vision and share in the work to be done.”

Jerry Fiume, managing director of SVN Summit Commercial Real Estate Advisors in Akron, said the collaborative spirit Horrigan brought to the mayor’s office needs to continue.

“I just came out of a meeting with a developer with two projects in Akron, and they love the collaboration they see here. That makes Akron look good,” Fiume said. “Hopefully, the next mayor will also be progressive and keep Akron moving forward.”

Fiume, like others, gives Horrigan high marks.

“It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback,” Fiume said. “But at the end of the day, he made things happen.”

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By: Peter Ketter and Martina Takac
National Register of Historic Places

The Origins of The Bowery and South Main Street

The Bowery, a historical 12-story, 158-foot-tall landmark luxury apartment building, attracts residents with rushing waterfalls along the Ohio-Erie Canal, a walkable neighborhood with nearby businesses, restaurants, retail, the University of Akron, Akron Civic Theater, Lock 3, Rubber Ducks Stadium, and other cultural/entertainment venues. But do you know the history of South Main Street and the building, originally known as the Akron Savings & Loan Company, which served  as the cornerstone to downtown Akron?

When the Bowery District project began, the team’s goal was simple: to retransform Akron’s South Main Street back into a LIVE, WORK, PLAY destination. However, a larger goal also took shape: preserve and celebrate downtown Akron’s past. With these goals in mind, the buildings have all been adapted for modern usage while keeping historic details in place.

The origins of Akron’s Main Street are tied to the early development of the city’s canal system. In 1831, a small hydraulic canal was constructed through Main Street (formerly known as Water St.) to provide water power for future mills on the canal.

In the early 20th century, rapid growth in the U.S. transportation industry fed the economic growth of the rubber industry in Akron, which would come to be known as the “Rubber Capital of the World.” The rubber industry brought a diverse population of European immigrants and migrants from the Appalachian region and other states to Akron. Between 1910 and 1920, the rubber industry’s demand for employees increased Akron’s population by over 200%, reaching a total of 208,000 people. During this time period nearly $70 million in construction activities were recorded, including the mammoth year of 1919, in which 6,894 buildings were constructed at a cost of $27,219,436. Significant portions of this growth were concentrated in the city’s commercial district, which continued to expand to the south, with new offices, hotels, residential and retail establishments constructed along North and South Main Streets.

Following the end of World War I, a short but sharp national depression had a significant impact on the city’s rubber industry starting in the summer of 1920. This setback was reflected in downtown’s construction activity, which slowed considerably. Only one building in the South Main Street Historic District was constructed between 1920 and 1925, although it would have a significant impact on the street. The Akron Savings & Loan Building was designed by Alfred Hopkins (1870-1941) of New York and constructed in 1923.

Completion of the Akron Savings and Loan Building signaled the end of Akron’s brief lull in economic growth and building construction, and the city came roaring back in the second half of the 1920s. In fact, the city’s second major building boom – from 1925 to 1929 – would prove even larger than the first, with 28,417 structures constructed at a cost of $93,078,903.

By the end of the boom, four more buildings had been erected in the South Main Historic District and two additional buildings were under construction. These six buildings include some of the most significant in the district – O’Neil’s Department Store, Loew’s Theatre, A. Polsky Co., and the Mayflower Hotel – and would significantly transform the appearance and character of the district, as South Main Street developed into the primary center of Akron’s commercial activity.

During the city’s building booms, new methods of construction changed Akron’s skyline. The district evolved from narrow, deep commercial buildings four or fewer stories in height to include large-scale mid-rise buildings and one 16-story tower. The district’s buildings include several examples of vernacular commercial style buildings from the early 20th century, as well as highstyle Art Deco, Classical Revival and Renaissance Revival buildings designed by prominent local and national architects.

South Main Street has a rich history of both prosperity and decline, but we are happy to see the district once again vibrant and thriving!

 

By: DAN SHINGLER 
Crain’s Cleveland Business

First look at the new Crave restaurant in Akron

Despite the pandemic, Akron had a busy 2021.

It’s a bit like a Broadway show the week before the show opens at Crave’s new location in downtown Akron’s Bowery District.

Aaron Hervey and his crew only have a few days before the restaurant holds its soft opening next weekend, which begins with dinner Thursday, June 23.

That will give Hervey a chance to test his crew’s training in front of some known guests who are likely to be understanding if there are any snafus.

That will give Hervey a chance to test his crew’s training, which has been ongoing, so there aren’t any such incidents on Monday, June 27, when Crave opens for real.

So far, so good, Hervey said during a Friday, June 17, visit to check on his progress.

Stock is either on hand or on its way, and the tables, chairs, flatware and other dining instruments are ready. The stainless steel sculptures done by Akron artist John Comunale are in place, with the hand-blown light fixtures patrons will likely remember from Crave’s original location on East Market Street hanging from them.

Even the staff is hired, Hervey said — all 38 of them. Well, almost, anyway.

“I think I’ll still need to hire one more cook,” Hervey said. “But we’re ready.”

There will be a lot of eyes on the place as it begins business again after shutting down in its former location due to COVID, then deciding to move to the highest-profile development downtown.

Crave’s success will represent the Bowery’s success as well — the restaurant is the first big retail tenant to sign on at the Bowery and has the most visible space on the first floor facing Main Street. It will also provide a sign as to the health of the downtown district generally, especially with regard to its nightlife.

Hervey, however, doesn’t seem worried. He said he’s had a lot of support from his former patrons, as well as downtown backers, and is confident Crave has landed in the right spot to become even bigger and better than it was before.

 

 

 

 

 

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By: JENNIFER CONN | CLEVELAND
Spectrum News1

June 7, 2022

Akron History Center to open in 2023, ahead of city’s bicentennial celebration

AKRON, Ohio — Akron plans to open a $2 million museum-quality history center downtown in late 2023, ahead of the city’s 2025 bicentennial celebration.

The Akron History Center is expected to occupy the central building at the Bowery, a redeveloped stretch of historic buildings on South Main Street, framed by parks at Lock 3, Lock 4 and Lock 2 on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Years in the making, the center becoming a reality is because of in large part to former deputy mayor and past Summit County Historical Society chairman David Lieberth.

Lieberth, who currently serves as executive secretary of the Akron Bicentennial Commission, first came up with a plan for an Akron museum 40 years ago, he said.


What You Need To Know

  • A $2 million museum-quality history center is planned to open in downtown Akron in late 2023
  • The Akron History Center is expected to be housed at the Bowery, a redeveloped stretch of historic buildings on South Main Street
  • Former Summit County Historical Society chairman David Lieberth created the first plan for a history center in 1982
  • The Akron-Summit County Public Library will operate the history center

In 1982, Lieberth chaired an historical society committee looking into the potential for a museum dedicated to the rubber industry, which made Akron the “Rubber Capital of the World.”

After a year of interviewing prominent Akronites, the committee issued a report concluding a museum was needed, but should be undertaken in partnership with the historical society.

A museum also should include other examples of invention and innovation, as well as other industries that shaped the city, from rubber to oats, toys and farm machinery, Lieberth said.

That report came in handy a few years later, when the city successfully drew the Inventors Hall of Fame to Akron in 1987.

“This document helped us layout an exact plan for what might occur in Akron at the Inventors Hall of Fame,” he said. The report also helped companies looking for a place to warehouse corporate artifacts, which the historical society accepted.

In 2002, when Lieberth became deputy mayor, he helped launch an early version of a history center — an arcade-style museum at Lock 3 Park, he said.

Staffed by volunteers, the Akron Toy Marble Museum was in operation for the next 10 years.

In 2012, Lieberth retired as deputy mayor, but continued looking for the right location for a history center, he said.

That location surfaced recently when Lieberth was invited to the Bowery to have a closer look at the project, in which he has had strong interest.

The Bowery is in the heart of the city’s central business district, comprising the historic 12-story Landmark building and five smaller retail buildings, from 164 -184 South Main St.

Welty Building Co. President and CEO Don Taylor, who’s also a managing partner in the Bowery, told Lieberth Building D in the development is for nonprofit use only. He said the city holds a permanent easement on the building, whose sole purpose is to serve as a corridor for the public to move between South Main Street and Lock 4.

Taylor asked if Lieberth had ideas about what could go on the walls in that building, which Lieberth said he did.

“And that was the beginning of it,” Lieberth said.

By 2021, Lieberth had formed a history center steering committee, which was up and running, through a planning grant from the GAR Foundation, he said. The first thing the committee looked at was the feasibility of establishing such a center in a century-old building.

Everything had been renovated except the floors, which had to remain original per the historic tax credits.

“So on the main street level, we have these gorgeous terrazzo floors, which are the first artifacts to be displayed,” he said.

With 3,000 square feet of exhibit space over three floors, the Akron History Center committee enlisted the expertise of Dennis and Kathy Barrie, known for their hand in development of the International Spy Museum, the Mob Museum, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and many others.

“Their opinion was that this was an ideal site for a permanent Akron history exhibit,” he said. “They’ve now been engaged as our exhibit designers.”

Canal Fulton-based CEI, a brand-experience company, has also been enlisted, Lieberth said,

“So these are two local, but quite prominent nationally, firms that we’ve engaged to get this project done,” Lieberth said.

Akron City Council recently allocated $450,000 toward the center, which leaves $1.5 million to be raised, he said.

Lieberth has initial outlines ready of what should be included in the center, which will be operated by the Akron-Summit County Public Library, he said.

Exhibits will include an array of artifacts, such as those found along the Portage Path representing the indigenous population, he said.

Exhibits will represent everything from construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal by Irish immigrants to artifacts from Quaker Oats Co., which operated in the city until 1970.

Famous Akronites will be represented, he said, such as NASA astronaut Judith Resnik, who was born in Akron and died in 1986 when the Challenger exploded.

The history center also will include information on the rise of Ku Klux Klan and race riots in the city, one which burnt down city hall, he said.

“There are some unpleasant aspects of Akron history, which we will also look at for context so that people know can know all the history,” Lieberth said.

Because of space constraints, the center will feature flat screens to extend exhibits, and exhibits will occasionally be rotated, he said.

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By: KERRY CLAWSON
Akron Beacon Journal

June 21, 2022

Crave in final prep stages for soft openings, grand opening at Landmark Building

Servers were training with the chef in the main dining room and owner/chef Aaron Hervey was prepping an Akron-style giardiniera appetizer with pickled peppers and olives in the kitchen late last week in preparation for the new Crave’s soft opening this week in downtown Akron.

Preparations are in the final stages at the restaurant’s new location at the Landmark Building in downtown Akron, a space that Hervey stresses has dramatic upgrades as part of the Bowery development at Main and Bowery streets.

The restaurant, which moved from its former location on East Market Street two long blocks down to 156 S. Main St., has expanded from 5,000 to more than 8,000 square feet in its new, two-story space that formerly housed the Akron Savings and Loan. With the move, Crave’s seating increases from 212 to 313.

Hervey, who ran Crave for nearly 17 years on East Market  before the move to the Landmark Building, co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Dana, who manages the front of house.

Both are 50 and have been in the restaurant business for 21 years. The couple also own Crave Cantina in Cuyahoga Falls.

“We were like, ‘Let’s do it bigger and better and make it count,’ ” Hervey said Thursday as he showed off the restaurant’s new custom first-floor bar, made of black porcelain and stainless steel.

It has a section that Hervey lit up in blue, amid a range of color choices.

Design elements of the new Crave restaurant

Hervey started talking with Welty Building Co. CEO Don Taylor 15 months ago about relocating Crave to the Bowery District, where restaurant construction started in January. The great location was a big factor for the restaurateur, who cited the 500,000 guests that the Akron Civic Theatre and Lock 3 draw downtown annually as well as a total of about 200 apartment dwellers in the building above the restaurant and across Main Street at The 159.

“We’re excited to be here,” Hervey said.

He gave a tour of the restaurant Thursday in advance of its invitation-only soft openings this Thursday through Saturday and its grand opening Monday.

Crave has built black porcelain and stainless steel bars both downstairs and on the mezzanine level, with the downstairs one framed by two stainless steel sculptures by local artist John Comunale, installed last week. Comunale also created two stainless steel cantilever arms over the first-floor dining booths to hold Crave’s handblown glass sconces from Crete that folks will recognize from its former location.

“We knew it was going to be a dramatic upgrade in craftsmanship, but we wanted the flavor of the past to be here,” including some of Crave’s original sconces in the front vestibule and dining room, Hervey said.

The new space is designed by architect John Wheeler. Because the 99-year-old building can’t have any lights anchored from its ornately plastered, restored ceiling, laser-type lights created with LED lighting also are mounted high from wall to wall.

“It’s magnificent. From downstairs and especially at night with those sconces washing up on it, it looks like a floating lid,” Hervey said of the restaurant ceiling.

Hervey estimated that the full Crave project cost just over $1.7 million, about double original estimates, due to skyrocketing costs in building materials. That total includes tenant improvements by Welty and Crave’s purchase of new kitchen equipment, bars, tables, chairs, booths, silverware, dishes, artwork and more.

“I bet Crave’s portion was $950,000,” the restaurant owner said.

New entrees on the menu at Crave restaurant

Jimmy Pintello is executive chef at the new Crave, which features a number of familiar appetizer favorites and entrees that are mostly new.

The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday for both lunch and dinner.

New entrees include a duck dish with breast and leg of duck confit wit

h macadamia nut rice, foie gras mousse, goat cheese, balsamic strawberries, pomegranate molasses and smoked honeycomb.

“It’s got a lot going on, but together it’s amazing,” Hervey said.

Appetizers have been “turbo-refined” too, the restaurateur said, including crabcakes with arugula vinaigrette, picked watermelon rind and jicama salad, mustard seed and radish.

“The combination of this is just dynamite,” Hervey said.

The restaurant is about 98% staffed, including largely a new crew of servers and cooks. On a weekend night, Hervey expects 25 to 30 staff to be working at once.

A five-car valet zone will be in front of the restaurant. Self-parking is free in the Summit County parking deck on Church Street on weekends and parking is also available at the Cascade deck on Mill Street, which has access to Crave’s back entrance.

Wine shop, market also run by Crave

At the back of the restaurant is a retail wine shop with wine displays that can be seen from the dining room through glass windows. The room also will double as a carryout area.

Behind the restaurant in an adjacent hall area will be a grab-and-go market that Crave will run, a requirement of the publicly funded new market tax credits that helped fund the Bowery project. The market will include foods that Crave makes, such as chicken salad wraps, as well as stocked foods including granola bars and apples.

The market will be a convenience for apartment tenants with necessities you’d also find at a gas station, including dishwashing liquid, toilet paper and aspirin. Those who live in the building will have access to the market at all hours, which will be run with kiosks on the honor system.

Crave also has a private dining room in the back corner of the second floor that seats up to 20 with an impressive view of Lock 4. Paintings there and throughout the restaurant are by artist George Roush of Bath, Hervey’s longtime friend.

The restaurant’s seating options also will include seating for 44 with tables and couches on its front sidewalk patio, which will be adorned with flower planters. There, guests can relax with a charcuterie board and a martini.

“The patio’s going to be dramatic and awesome and sexy,” Hervey said.

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By: DAN SHINGLER 
Crain’s Cleveland Business

Akron’s new developments got put on hold in 2021 due to the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, Akron had a busy 2021.

Development downtown continued. The Bowery project started the year with its nearly 100 apartments almost all leased out and its focus on retail tenants. Then the 159 Main building across Main Street opened early in the year, unveiling more than 100 more luxury apartments.

Mentor developer Lance Osborne kept the momentum going by building another 139 apartments at Canal Place during 2021, representing an investment of more than $40 million. He followed that up by announcing another project at Canal Place, similarly sized and also representing a $40 million investment, in December.

But while residential activity showed little to no weakness during a year that was fraught with pandemic and other perils, business activity downtown and nearby in central Akron was largely stalled.

The city’s new hotel, the BLU-tique, had just opened at New Year’s before it was shuttered for almost all of 2021. It remains closed.

Another hotel, this one proposed for the Martin House, a former mansion on the campus of the University of Akron, was slated to begin construction in 2021, but financing proved impossible to arrange. Tom Chema, who was able to raise millions of dollars and a bounty of support for Cleveland’s Gateway sports complex projects in the 1990s, told us in December that the project still was unable to find backers and remains shelved.

Not that there weren’t signs of hope.

Downtown bars and restaurants reported a significant pickup in business in the middle of the year, and new restaurants such as El Patron downtown reported their business was brisk. Developer Tony Troppe, who built and co-owns the BLU-tique, has said he hopes to reopen soon and expects to do so with a new badge from a major hotel brand.

But those same bars and restaurants that reported a return of their patrons also often had a difficult time finding staff, sometimes leaving them unable to take advantage of improving business. Now, they’re facing another uncertain winter and year ahead as COVID has returned in the last month of the year with a vengeance.

The Bowery, until December, had failed to attract a single retailer, bar or restaurant to its new spaces — though many, including its developer, said that was a blessing in disguise considering the economic climate.

Before the year ended, though, Akron’s glitziest development announced it had landed a major restaurant as its first retail tenant. Crave, one of the city’s most popular restaurants, announced it will move and expand into new digs at the Bowery and move from its home on East Market Street.

Meanwhile, as the nation argued and convulsed over whether to spend trillions of dollars on new infrastructure projects, Akron completed some of its major infrastructure work.

Not only did the city make largely unseen progress underground on its more than $1 billion, federally mandated sewer project, but the city’s big makeover of Main Street downtown made major progress, and the street is now reopened in most of downtown.

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By: Doug Livingston and Kerry Clawson 
 Akron Beacon Journal

A new space to Crave: Downtown Akron restaurant relocating to new Bowery development

For owner and chef Aaron Hervey, the invitation to move his Crave restaurant to the Landmark Building in the up-and-coming Bowery development downtown was an offer too good to refuse.

By April, he expects his current East Market Street restaurant to be in its new home just two long city blocks away at the corner of Main and Bowery in the space that, nearly a century ago, was the two-story lobby of Akron Savings and Loan.

Hervey said Don Taylor, CEO and president of Bowery developer Welty Building Co. and a longtime Crave fan, approached him about the move.

“He felt that we would really be the hometown recognizable brand, the right anchor to help fill those buildings and just basically be the cornerstone of the neighborhood,” Hervey said.

With the city’s help, the move would relieve Crave of an undisclosed debt.

The pandemic put many restaurants out of business. Hervey missed rent payments to his current landlord at the corner of Market and High streets in the historic Castle Hall building owned by developer Tony Troppe and his partners at the Everett Group.

Crave’s relocation also gives Taylor, whose plans to rent retail space have been sidelined for two years, his first commercial tenant at the Bowery.

“If we roll the clock back to 2019, in October/November I had two tenants looking at every space in the building,” said Taylor. “The economy was doing well. The world did not understand what a pandemic would do.”

The prospective tenants said they’d come back when the sidewalk wasn’t torn up and the city’s complete reconstruction of Main Street, which was a couple months behind schedule at that time, was finished. Then news of a novel coronavirus broke, burying any hope of renting street-level storefronts as the economy come to a crashing halt.

Now Welty Construction and its partners on the Bowery project are negotiating with a second business seeking 7,000 square feet of office space. Taylor hopes to announce that deal in the next two weeks.

Taylor said he’s never bullish on restaurants as tenants. Even before the pandemic, their thin operating margins made for an unreliable revenue. Sitting at a conference table with Hervey to discuss the tentative deal, Taylor made that clear.

He told Hervey: “I know this isn’t going to give you any great comfort, but the No. 1 business failure industry is talking to the No. 2 business failure industry. Construction goes out of business more often than anybody. And restaurants are the No. 2. Here we are trying to plot success.”

Taylor said the men laughed at conventional wisdom, prepared to challenge a pandemic that’s upended consumer behavior, jerked around prices and limited the availability of everything from construction materials to chicken wings. The construction company lead, whose company has been around for 76 years and is currently a partner on Ohio’s largest construction project at the new $600 million Sherwin Williams headquarters in Cleveland, said he’s “betting” on Crave’s success.

To account for uncertain times, Taylor said the prospective lease with Crave, though not yet final, would be tied to the restaurant’s sales and not to the 8,000 square feet it would occupy in the bottom of the Landmark Building.

“It will be a function of the success that they have,” said Taylor. “We are definitely betting on the fact that they will be doing very well.”

Why move to the Landmark?

Hervey, who opened Crave downtown in 2005, said the new Landmark space is highly desirable due to the hundreds of thousands of guests that the Akron Civic Theatre and Lock 3 draw annually. The area also features 92 new apartments in the building right above the restaurant space.

Taylor was “pleasantly surprised” to see Akronites snatch up the apartments, which were shown virtually during the pandemic. Only about six are vacant at any given time, he said.

More residential units are coming online across Main Street at The 159 as developers continue to chase market demand for more downtown living.

Hervey estimates the relocation and renovation of the Landmark space to cost upward of $1 million.

A grab-and-go grocery area will offer limited but fresh, nutritious foods, which is a requirement of the publicly funded new market tax credits that helped fund the Bowery project.

When it opens, Crave will be a part of the Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) that allows businesses around Lock 3 to serve alcohol in special biodegradable mugs that can be filled and taken out for a walk around the canal or along Main Street, Hervey said.
With the move, expected to be complete in April, Crave’s space will grow from 5,000 square feet to more than 8,000 at the Landmark Building, which will seat 140 on the ground floor, 20 at the bar and another 100 upstairs in the L-shaped mezzanine, a 3,200-square-foot space that will be used for special events as well as overflow dining seating. Crave also will seat 40 in a front sidewalk patio area.

“The first time we went and looked at the space, it’s just like jaw-dropping. It’s really dramatic; it’s 25-foot ceilings,” Hervey said.

He plans to redesign Crave’s current horseshoe-shaped dining room booths for the new dining room area at the Landmark and will get new booths for the bar area.

A focal point of the new decor will be a stainless steel sculpture by Akron artist John Comunale, which will rise out of the back bar up to the mezzanine level.

“We’re looking for a showstopper,” Hervey said of the work.

Comunale also will create arms that will cantilever over dining booths with Crave’s signature lights, handblown glass from Crete, that will be moved to the new restaurant space.

Hervey expects Crave to spend at least $500,000 on the move, which will include repurposing furniture, new furniture, new kitchen and bar equipment, and a new, black granite and stainless steel bar. With seating increasing from 212 currently to 313 at the new space, Crave also will need more plates for banquets and about 11 more staff, including more servers.

“We are using almost everything that we currently have but we need more of it,” Hervey said.

Help from the city of Akron

The city of Akron also is supporting the move financially, which may include paying part of Hervey’s back rent to its current landlord. The back rent is a result of the restaurant’s lost business during the pandemic.

Hervey would not specify how much the city may cover.

When Crave opened its doors again early in the pandemic, it was unable to reopen for lunch because the restaurant had lost staff and nobody was working downtown. As a result, Crave lost a third of its revenue stream.

The restaurant, which is still open for dinner only, didn’t see business improving until April, when vaccinations started.

“The entire thing is about the pandemic, and we’re nowhere near what pre-COVID numbers are” sales-wise, Hervey said.

More details about the move

Welty and the city of Akron have pledged to help facilitate parking for Crave customers at its new location, including signage and talk of creating a valet zone in the Bowery area, Hervey said. Guests who park in the Cascade parking deck also will be able to access the back entrance to Crave without having to go outside.

Hervey said his culinary team has notebooks full of new menu ideas but the new Crave location will continue to offer favorites, including the cornflake chicken sandwich, mac and cheese, and grilled cheese and tomato soup.

The current restaurant will close after New Year’s Eve.

Starting in January, everything at the current restaurant will be cleaned and moved or stored while construction is being completed. Booths will be sent out for new springs, seats and fabric and another shop will sand the restaurant’s current chairs and barstools and paint them black.

“We want to make sure that this is clear in people’s minds: Crave didn’t go out of business,” Hervey said. “They’re just moving, and they’re not moving out of the city.”