University allies in development

” The University of Akron is adding more than a new stadium to Akron’s skyline. It is partnering with the city of Akron to add a new neighborhood: University Park. The University Park Alliance, an eight-year-old effort, announced Feb. 9 its new effort to revitalize the 50-block neighborhood surrounding the university.”

The University of Akron is adding more than a new stadium to Akron’s skyline. It is partnering with the city of Akron to add a new neighborhood: University Park.

The University Park Alliance, an eight-year-old effort, announced Feb. 9 its new effort to revitalize the 50-block neighborhood surrounding the university. This new branding effort seeks to attract new businesses and revitalize the area.

According to Ken Stapleton, executive director of the University Park Alliance, the revitalization also provides something else: an opportunity to contribute to community.

There has been a positive response to the launch of the neighborhood branding campaign. It will have a positive impact on the students in particular.

A key part of what we do is to create a nicer environment for the students, Stapleton said.

Though the area has been known for its crime in the past, this new branding campaign seeks to develop the neighborhood and increase investment and development in the neighborhood.

University Park has a higher level of patrol than probably any other area around Akron.

Compared to other places, University Park is just as safe as many other parts of Akron. Part of this is very much a perception issue, Stapleton said.

The campaign includes a newly launched Web site, www.upakron.com, and brochures. By the spring, new banners, window clings on storefronts and other marketing efforts will display the alliance’s new logo and slogan Do something great today.

The next phase of the campaign will be to drive people to the Web site. The Web site contains a comprehensive calendar with information about events to attend, places to volunteer and other events in the neighborhood.

Also in the works is a University Park community card which will entitle card holders to neighborhood discounts. In a prepared statement President Proenza said, We can attract and retain key talent to generate more economic development for Akron and Northeast Ohio.”

The mission of the alliance is to transform the community immediately surrounding UA through engaging the community and leveraging real estate and business investment.

The alliance organizes such events as the Urban Innovators Speaker series. The most recent, featuring Chuck Bohl, associate professor at the University of Miami, sold out.

The alliance also publicizes and organizes other cultural events including art shows, concerts, museum exhibits and karaoke nights. The alliance effort to promote University Park has transformed the 50-block area into a cohesive neighborhood rather than a group of streets.

Another thing, that does not get enough attention, is that so many students are service and service learning in the neighborhood, and we think that is a really positive development.

Since the alliance’s inception there have been 1,000 new jobs created, $3 million in private investment, three new schools, new bike paths and the first new homes built for private ownership in almost 50 years.

University Park also has a fan page on Facebook, updates on Twitter and videos on YouTube.

The alliance was established through a major grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and its partners include UA, the city of Akron, Summa Health System, Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Greater Akron Chamber, Akron Public Schools and the University Park Development Corporation.