A key part of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan’s strategy for residential growth took a big step forward Wednesday as city and community leaders gathered to break ground for new housing at the site of a former West Akron middle school.
Construction of the Residences at Good Park, adjacent to the city-operated J.E. Good Park Golf Course, will be overseen by Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc. The site along Mull Avenue, just southwest of the traffic circle at Hawkins Avenue, had been he home of Akron Public Schools’ Perkins Middle School.
The development will consist of 57 single-family homes and townhomes as well as 25 lots for homebuyers to purchase and build their own residences. Plans call for the buildout of infrastructure including public roads, sidewalks, street lighting and a centrally located park, with more than two acres of green space.
Homebuyers will be eligible for a 15-year tax abatement.
Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Chairman Samuel DeShazior led Wednesday’s ceremony, acknowledging the legacies of the longtime school grounds and the group selected to transform them.
“This has been a moment that this community has waited for a long time, it’s a very proud moment for Akron, Ohio today,” DeShazior said. “As we stand here on this site of the old Perkins Middle School, I can still hear the children playing in the hallways, I can still hear the bell ringing to summon those students to class — I heard a bell earlier this week that says we are bringing forth a new community to Good Park, and I thank you for allowing us the opportunity to aid in that.”
DeShazior also said emphasized that involving the nonprofit Alpha Phi Alpha Homes in the development incorporates the contributions of members of the Akron community “whose visions were to have better living conditions for our citizens, economic development for the masses, and social equity for all.” He cited Thomas Tatum, the organization’s vice chairman of development, as one of the key visionaries. Alpha Phi Alpha Homes arose out of the local chapter of America’s first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-American men.
Dozens of people were one hand for the groundbreaking, including Horrigan, City Council President Margo Sommerville, Ward 4 Council Member Russ Neal, Summit County Sheriff Kandy Fatheree and Summit County Council Vice President Veronica Sims.
Following a prayer led by Rev. Dr. Curtis T. Walker of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Executive Director Albert A. Bragg spoke of his time as a student at Perkins Middle School, and his close relationship with this project.
“I remember a young man being dropped off in this very parking lot 49 years ago, and going to homeroom right around the corner from here. That young man was me. It’s funny how things go full circle, isn’t it?” said Bragg.
When Buchtel High School was rebuilt as Buchtel Community Learning Center in the 2010s, it added the APS cluster’s student in grades 7 and 8 who had attended Perkins. The vacated school was used for a time as a swing space for other schools undergoing reconstruction, and was demolished in the summer of 2019.
Alpha Phi Alpha General President Willis L. Lonzer III, another former Perkins Middle School student, spoke to the importance of the organization overseeing the project.
“I had the honor of being the alumni chapter president here, I did my Ph.D. work here at the University of Akron, and I know the significance of the work that’s being done here — and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community,” he said.
Horrigan said the site was chosen early on as part of his Planning to Grow Akron strategy, which focuses on increasing the supply of marketable, market-rate housing to attract residents with middle to high incomes to the city.
“This site is situated in a wonderful spot in Ward 4; it’s new development and new housing in Akron with a wide variety of new living options — and we are extremely proud to partner with Alpha on this project,” Horrigan said.
Anthony Thompson can be reached email@example.com.