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Economy and Business

Akron wants to oust Mayflower Manor residents
City calls it building renovation. Critics say it's gentrification.

Mark Urycki
Akron Deputy Director of Planning Sam DeShazior addresses Mayflower residents, their friends, and famillies.
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Young people are beginning to move back into downtown Cleveland and Akron, where new apartments and condos have been built. Urban living is hot because it offers lots of amenities in a close, walkable environment.

That’s the same reason the low-income residents of Mayflower Manor in Akron cite for why they like living there. But the city of Akron is hoping to buy that art deco building on Main Street and clear them out.  WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports they met with city officials yesterday…

Residents aren't willing to walk away

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The Mayflower sits right across Main Street from the Canal Park baseball stadium downtown amidst clubs, restaurants  and new student housing.  Any developer could see it’s a hot location.  

Within walking distance to Akron’s main library, two hospitals, the bus station and parks, residents like it too. They crowded into the Mayflower’s community hall yesterday to tell city officials that.

But the mayor’s office announced this week the building needs renovation of major systems and the people living in its 233 rooms will have to leave. The city plans to ask the federal government for a loan to buy and renovate the building. The deputy director of the Akron Planning Department, Sam DeShazior, told residents the city will then offer it to a developer. 

Some residents asked when could they move back in and others wanted first dibs on a room when it reopens. But it’s unlikely a renovated Mayflower will be used for low income subsidized housing again. Rose Juriga of the Tri-County Independent Living Center in Akron remembers Canal Park Towers, a low-income apartment building across the street that was simply razed seven years ago.  She wonders how much taxpayer money will be spent on the Mayflower. She also feels it’s part of an effort to move low income people out of downtown.

The land under the Mayflower may be end up being vacant if the building is not renovated. That’s the warning from the city’s Sam DeShazior.

The Mayflower was once a luxury hotel where New York businessman Bill Wilson stayed in 1935. Looking for help for his addiction, he made a famous phone call from its lobby that eventually led him to Doctor Bob Smith. The two went on to form Alcoholics Anonymous.

Now residents are looking for help.  Marilyn Bobo told her neighbors they need to stand together and let City Council know what they want.   Mrs Bobo is organizing another meeting with her fellow Mayflower residents next week with representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

(Click image for larger view.)

Listener Comments:

I used to work at the mayflower manor in 2000/. I came to love and understand these people very well and it's a dirty shame that the city of akron wants the residents out the street I'm angry and appalled at the whole situation. We can't still update this bldg and beautify it Nud still keep the residents in there home. Did anyone ever look up the history of the mayflower mnor. It's incredible. The city needs to keep its natural history by keeping this bldg here with the residents. Their close to the stores and hospitals and everything they need. I m gonna be praying real hard for these wonderful people and holding miss Marilyn hobos hand a up in prayer . And I stand behind the people of the beautiful mayflower manor in downtown akron ohio

Posted by: Mary pfeiffer (Akron ohio) on August 4, 2014 7:08AM
This building is honestly in great need of repair. Downtown is not the place any longer for low income housing... thats the truth.. and Akron has helped create wonderful neighborhood housing that IS great for those in need of low income housing within the neighborhoods. The city is not putting people out without proper (better) places to go.

Posted by: scott (Akron OH) on April 29, 2013 3:04AM
I'm disappointed by the clearly visible negative tone of this article. This will be a good thing for downtown. The residents haven't lived there for their whole lives, and there isn't a close grocery store. I would rather it was done with private money, however.

Posted by: Nick (Akron) on March 1, 2013 6:03AM
This is exactly why many Ohio residents who live outside of large cities resent paying the city income taxes which are deducted from our paychecks. It's pretty transparent that this mayor (who also seems to enjoy flying to China on the public dime) is beholden to some developer who has his eye on this piece of real estate.

Posted by: Mark Slutz ( on March 1, 2013 4:03AM
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