© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Akron approves Summa Health development despite residents' concerns

Summa Health Akron campus building
Summa Health
Akron City Council has approved the use of form-based code which clears the way for a mixed-use development on property owned by Summa Health in the city's Middlebury neighborhood.

Akron is moving forward with a housing and business district proposed by Summa Health in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

Some residents, however, feel they were left out of the conversation about the development.

The proposal from Summa Health and developer Fairmount Properties would convert sites owned by the health system near its campus in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood into apartments, stores and a hotel.

City council unanimously passed a request Monday to change an area of East Market Street to form-based code, a form of zoning that focuses on the character and layout of a community instead of the use of the land itself. Council approved the first use of form-based code in Akron for the Merriman Valley and Shumacher area in mid-November.

The zoning change allows the plans for Middlebury to move forward.

One of the main concerns is that the plan includes replacing a local community garden with a parking lot. City council members and Summa Health will work with residents to find a permanent space for the garden, Council Vice President Jeff Fusco said in council's planning committee meeting Monday.

“That’s the conviction of many of those who’s been involved in this, and that’s to find them a spot that they can own, and that they can control the destiny of that parcel that they can grow on,” Fusco said.

Summa Health and the developer have pledged not to start any construction at the site of the garden in 2024 to give time to find a new space, Fusco added.

The proposed rezoning and urban overlay district off of East Market Street
City of Akron
The proposed rezoning and urban overlay district off of East Market Street that was approved by Akron City Council Nov. 27, 2023.

Those who support form-based code say it promotes walkability and accessibility.

Adam Brandscomb of Fairmount Properties said in an October planning committee meeting the development would be part of the city’s plans to make the neighborhood a more walkable area.

“This type of urban overlay district is something you see in many forward-thinking cities that are trying to encourage and enable the type of pedestrian-scale, walkable neighborhoods that many people desire to see,” Brandscomb said.

Many residents opposed to changing the code said they are not against new development and form-based code; rather, their concerns primarily relate to Summa Health’s plan.

Ahead of the vote Monday, a neighborhood advocacy group sent a letter to council members detailing more concerns, including that parking was prioritized over people.

“We want to clearly state that not enough attention or resources have been given to alert affected neighbors and include them in these decisions,” four residents wrote in the letter.

Council approved two ordinances to move forward with the rezoning of East Market Street and the urban overlay zone. Council took time on one additional ordinance slotted for the new corridor to give more notice to business owners in the area about the proposed changes.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.