Firestone Business Park aims to draw new industry to Akron

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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AKRON, Ohio - The city of Akron and Summit County are attempting to draw manufacturing and other industry back to the city with the opening of the Firestone Business Park.

Government officials and business partners broke ground Thursday on the first phase of a the 20-acre park, on the site of the former Firestone Tire Company headquarters.

“This project illustrates the best of what can happen with intentional and effective public-private partnerships,” County Executive Ilene Shapiro said at the ceremony.

The land is owned by the city of Akron and APV Engineered Coatings, which will join Pleasant Valley Corp. of Medina and Summit County in developing the park.

Development of roads, sewers, electrical infrastructure, and other improvements is estimated to cost $4.2 million.

The city of Akron was awarded $1 million in state capital and transportation-improvement funds for the business park. The remaining costs will be paid through property assessments and the business partners.

To prepare the park’s roads, Summit County has spent $250,000 in state Transportation Improvement District funds. The county recently developed the nearby Russell M. Pry Building in Firestone’s Triangle Building, and Bridgestone Americas’ Technical Center.

“Without the investment the county has made in this neighborhood, we would not be standing here,” Akron Chief of Staff James Hardy said during the groundbreaking.

In the business park, the county also plans to build a 50,000-square-foot operations facility on five acres to house its Sanitary Sewer Services Department. The facility will enable the county to consolidate several existing locations, bringing county workers and equipment under one roof.

APV opened in Akron in 1878 and has operated a facility at the site of the park since 1912. Dave Vanarge, who owns APV with his son, Tom Vanarge, said he has anticipated the park since 1991, when he bought seven additional lots in Firestone Park.

“APV has pretty much singlehandedly preserved this neighborhood,” Hardy said, crediting the company for preparing Firestone Park “to see a whole new day.”

Pleasant Valley Corporation, a real estate, construction and facility management company, plans to build a 85,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing facility in the business park, said Pleasant Valley CEO Gino Faciana. The facility is anticipated to bring new jobs to the area, he said.

Hardy praised the investments by APV and Pleasant Valley.

“That is going to be a signal to the rest of the market that Firestone Park is open for business and has been open for business,” he said.

FirstEnergy Corp. is nearly done installing new utility poles to reroute electric between Cole and Emerling Avenues, and provide electric service to the new parcels.

The city is set to begin constructing the main entrance to the park, the Cole Avenue Extension Roadway. Work on water, sewer, curbs and gutters is also about to begin.

Companies interested in building light industrial or manufacturing businesses in Akron can call the city’s Integrated Development office at 330-375-2133.

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