Release Date: July 19,2018
N. High Street space lift also showcases new lighting, seating and mural in the Historic Arts District
Downtown Akron's Historic Arts District is unveiling improvements to the public space as the next recipient of a downtown "space lift" from Downtown Akron Partnership with support of the John S. and James L Knight Foundation.
The improvements progressed over eight weeks and will be celebrated at a public reception on July 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. The reception is part of the monthly 3rd Thursday event and in conjunction with FRONT international. Music by The Dreemers, food and drink from Akron Coffee Roasters, BLU Plate, Crave, The Nightlight and Urban Eats, and remarks from the artists involved is part of the evening's agenda.
Improvements to the block are based on recommendations from Gehl Studio, an international urban design firm in conjunction with the business and property owners in the district. Investments made to public spaces help improve a number of things in a neighborhood including economic development, safety, talent attraction, vibrancy and the physical environment.
"The goal of the project is to build on the already great momentum of the retail cluster on North High and take it to another level, encouraging visitors to come for one destination and stay for another," said DAP President and CEO Suzie Graham. "The increase in pedestrian activity, in turn, generates additional positive impact for the neighborhood by creating a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere."
The project includes public art, lighting improvements, locally made street furniture, beautification and Akron's first parklet. A parklet is a creative reuse of a parking space as a social space for people. While most of downtown's sidewalks are wide enough to provide for sidewalk cafés, North High has an older, more narrow sidewalk. The parklet provides a fun, picturesque spot to enjoy Akron Coffee Roasters, Chill Artisan Ice Cream or lunch from Western Fruit Basket or Urban Eats.
The parklet, creative lighting and street furniture is designed and fabricated by local artist and craftsman, Dominic Falcione.
Color is brought to the block with the help of Art Bomb Brigade and a group of high school students as an ArtsLIFT project. The students worked over an intensive two-week period to create a mural throughout the block. The title of the mural will be revealed on Thursday in conjunction with a Chill Ice Cream custom flavor.
This project follows close on the heels of the Northside Green and opening of Northside Marketplace- both initiatives supported through Knight Foundation investment as part of a $1.5 million grant to DAP.
"These improvements center on creating a downtown Akron that is vibrant and welcoming to residents, offering them incentives to connect with their neighborhoods, local businesses and each other. We look forward to seeing the impact that these changes might have on the success of our city," said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation program director for Akron.
"Each project has been a sincere collaboration. Without the city of Akron, Tony Troppe, Dominic, Elisa Gargarella and Marissa McClellan of Art Bomb, the ArtsLIFT students, and participation from every business in the block, these projects just wouldn't happen" said Graham. "Knight funding allows us to make investments at a relatively small scale to see how they impact the quality of life in a place.
The smaller scale of these projects will allow for testing the recommendations and learning from them so plans can be adjusted before becoming permanent.
"We are already in preliminary discussion with the city and stakeholders about how to make Northside Green permanent and I'm excited to see what new thinking this project brings to bear," said Graham.
3rd Thursday map with N. High Street location: Click here