Board approves Quaker Square acquisition

“The University of Akron acquired a major historical landmark and in the process solved two challenges facing UA. On Wednesday, the board of trustees approved the acquisition of the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square Complex, a nine-acre area in downtown Akron. The complex, which is adjacent to campus, cost the university $22.”

The University of Akron acquired a major historical landmark and in the process solved two challenges facing UA.

On Wednesday, the board of trustees approved the acquisition of the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square Complex, a nine-acre area in downtown Akron. The complex, which is adjacent to campus, cost the university $22.679 million.

The purchase still needs to be approved by the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and the State of Ohio Controlling Board.

It’s a big acquisition for us, said vice president of capital planning and facility management Ted Curtis. Nine acres of continuous ground adjacent to our campus. If we were given nine years, we couldn’t accumulate nine continuous acres of land in downtown Akron.

The board also approved the use of eminent domain procedures, if necessary, to obtain the property between East Exchange, Vine, South Union and Spicer streets. The area is inhabited by homes, mostly rental properties.

The move has a two-fold effect. The Crowne Plaza Hotel – a major part of Quaker Square, which has 260 rooms, will be used for Residence Housing for approximately 415 students living on campus.

It will enable us to transfer students who would otherwise be housed in, really, not the very best of our residence halls, president Luis Proenza said. At the same time, we are inaugurating our new residence hall on South Exchange.

The hotel won’t be ready to house students for at least six months and may not be completed until next summer, he said.

The new residence housing will offset the demolition of four residence halls on East Exchange and Brown streets, which is in the area where the university plans to build a new 25,000-30,000 seat football stadium.

Before UA can start construction on the stadium, which may also contain classrooms, additional residential housing and parking, it must acquire all the property in the target area. Currently, UA has acquired 67 of 115 parcels needed and is in negotiations with 25 of the 48 remaining parcels. They will attempt to gain the rest through negotiation with the owners, or through eminent domain.

It’s a step in the process in terms of what we want – building an on-campus facility, said director of athletics Mack Rhodes. There are still many more steps to take. Today (was) a very important step in the process, and hopefully it leads to an on-campus stadium.

Curtis said the negotiations to purchase Quaker Square only took six months because we had an owner who wanted to sell and we wanted to buy.

It wasn’t the first time Curtis was involved with buying the facility. He was one of four businessmen who bought property for $7.2 million in 1972.

Curtis said he acted as the architect and developer and that it was his idea to use the grain silos as a hotel.

I like to say we went from storing oats to storing folks.

An additional decision must be made regarding Quaker Square. The plaza is a tourist attraction that is apart of Akron history, dating back to 1885 when Quaker Oats first moved into the area. Curtis, who has a great deal of respect for the historical significance Quaker Square has, wants to keep that way, including the stores still present at the plaza.

There is a lot of memorabilia, a lot of history there, Curtis said. We will retain that history. The memorabilia will stay. It’s (been) close to my heart from day one. We will maintain that integrity.

However, the decision to preserve the historical aspect of the factory is something the board will have to decide at a later date.

We’re still in the midst of looking at how we will optimally use these other facilities, Proenza said. There are many other candidate programs that can benefit from these facilities. The principle focus of this is, of course, the hotel.


” #1.1361968:993556858.jpg:Akron Map.jpg:The map of the University of Akron outlines the location of the recent acquisition UA announced Wednesday. Crowne Plaza (upper left, circled in red and highlighted in yellow), a nine-acre area will be used for residence housing. Also higlighted is the area where the university plans to build a new, on-campus football field (lower right). The board of trustees approved the use of eminent domain in obtaining the area needed.:Joe Habbyshaw”