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Three Akron Neighborhoods Win Grants For Civic Engagement And Development

Tim Fitzwater/Knight Foundation
Better Block event in North Hill neighborhood of Akron

Three Akron neighborhoods are each getting $240,000 grants to develop ideas to attract business and residents.

Kenmore, Middlebury and North Hill were all identified earlier this year as areas that could be primed to grow with just a small push to get the housing and job markets moving again.

To do that, the grants from the Knight Foundation aim to give neighborhood development groups the resources to hire staff and explore civic engagement.

Kyle Kutuchief, the Knight Foundation’s program director for Akron, says the three neighborhoods could work together on some of their planning, but they’re all very different.

“North Hill is our foreign -born neighborhood with a rich history of immigration,” Kutuchief says. “Middlebury is adjacent to anchor institutions, and Kenmore is one of the strongest business districts aside from downtown.”

Kutuchief adds that focusing on the three neighborhoods is part of a new way of looking at development in the city.

“Downtown was the first neighborhood that Mayor Horrigan tasked to lead a planning process,” Kutuchief says. “For too long, Akron has had this false choice of ‘downtown or neighborhoods.’ We can walk and chew gum at the same time; it’s a rising tide. We can do both. These are complimentary endeavors. I think the timing is really good for the city and I’m excited to watch the grants unfold in the years ahead.”

The “Build In Akron” report earlier this year said Kenmore, Middlebury and North Hill all have enough traffic and activity to warrant some sort of large investment or mixed-use development which could boost the housing market.

One way to do that is to encourage banks to offer mortgages that cover both the costs of a house and any needed rehab to the property, something that usually requires two separate sources of funding.