What is Great Streets Akron?
Great Streets Akron is an initiative aimed at improving the neighborhood business districts (NBDs) in our city. By targeting city support and resources in our Great Streets districts, we create a notable impact.
The concept of Placemaking is the key approach to planning and urban design driving our initiative. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and well-being. Over the last few years, Akron has adopted several initiatives, Great Streets being one, to improve public spaces, encourage private investment, and support talent retention and attraction in the area. We summarize the key aspects of placemaking in our initiative goals.
Our Great Streets Goals:
Greater Community Engagement
Our program began with public neighborhood meetings to speak face to face with the community about their concerns and hopes for their neighborhood. Preliminary business and community surveys were also done in the spring of 2018 and plan to be repeated in the future to assess public opinion on our business corridors. Our team continues to hold neighborhood meetings, work with Community Development Corporations and businesses directly.
Increased Business Development
Our Business Resource Guide provides a starting point to navigating city, county, and state resources as they apply to business development, including our locally led finical resources – the Matching Façade Grants and Microloan Program. By providing these financial resources, we aim to help improve the exterior, interior, and daily operations of our local businesses. Other business development efforts include business placement and developing cooperative business agreements.
Improving Transportation Conditions
Creating pedestrian and bike friendly corridors and improving transit access, all while creating safer traffic patterns are key to creating a space that people want to visit. Our team assesses needs for road diets, bike paths, restriping, and addressing parking concerns in our NBDs in order to make our business corridors places-to-be.
Improving Aesthetics, Urban Design, & Public Space
Improving the look and feel of our NBDs is two-fold: First, improving business façades and creating a homogenous aesthetic for the district. This can involve anything from masonry work to creating outdoor seating. Second, improve the look of the streetscape though street trees, planters, the condition of the roads and sidewalks, etc.
Promoting Safer Neighborhoods
Safety is a common concern within all our Great Streets locations and supporting neighborhoods. The Knight Foundation awarded the City of Akron an Internet of Things Technology Grant in the amount of $200,000. The goal is to align this technology funding with the Great Streets initiative and crowd source community preferences for how technology could be deployed to address local concerns. Other ongoing projects include Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) evaluation of our façade grant recipients and moving our NBDs to LED street lights in the near future.