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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.
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
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.
By: Peter Ketter and Martina Takac
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.
By: DAN SHINGLER
First look at the new Crave restaurant in Akron
Despite the pandemic, Akron had a busy 2021.
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.
Even the staff is hired, Hervey said — all 38 of them. Well, almost, anyway.
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 generallyhttps://keyeez.com/how-to-start-blogging/, especially with regard to its nightlife.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
By: KERRY CLAWSON
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.
By: DAN SHINGLER
Akron’s new developments got put on hold in 2021 due to the pandemic
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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