Tuesday, November 29, 2005

University Park Alliance -- Is This What Highland Square Needs?

I read with interest Betty Lin-Fisher's* story on redevelopment plans in the neighborhoods surrounding Akron U. It was the usual BJ development piece -- all happy-talk boosterism. If anyone is unhappy with the plans, they didn't show up in the story. But what really caught my eye was this:

Now, Proenza has visions of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods filled with homes,
art exhibits, shops, outdoor concerts and restaurants.

This after he said that:
"If our city is to come back -- as all of us want it to do -- finding exciting, vibrant areas for people to live and work and play and learn and do good things for their daily exercise and well-being becomes critically important[.]"
Well, isn't the same true of Highland Square? It's the anchor of dozens of blocks of mixed-income residential neighborhoods, well inside the city. Its appeal is the pedestrian-friendly layout and the quirky array of food and retail shops. The City has supported the U-Park Alliance; why do we get ugly noises from Plusquellec suggesting Steve Albrecht will get his way?

A couple of reasons. First, U-Park has landowners who are apparently with the program. Second, they got seed money from the Knight Foundation. Third, they have Proenza; we have me and thee.

But Highland Square holds hundreds of rental units, a significant percentage of which house U students. Can HSNA organize them to try to get the U administration on board? Granted, we're not close neighbors, but the University has at least as much stake in the continued good health of Highland Square as it has with the environs of City Hospital.

Meanwhile, a little grantseeking wouldn't be a bad idea either. I know this guy with the Gund Foundation . . .

*Disclosure -- a personal friend.