Council approves zoning restrictions in new Biomedical Incentive Zone, protects existing businesses

February 24, 2010

Akron City Council Monday night passed three key pieces of legislation which have the potential to attract more biomedical and health-care jobs to the city.

After several public hearings on amended zoning to expand the Biomedical Corridor and officially establish within it a Biomedical Incentive Zone, Council passed legislation which will open a wider area near downtown Akron to more biomedical business opportunities, but which also includes protections for certain existing businesses in the rezoned area.

One ordinance designates 1,200 acres within the Biomedical Corridor as a Biomedical Incentive Zone. Council passed a related ordinance which then changes the Commercial and Retail Business Use District to a Biomedical Use District, limiting land usage in the incentive zone to biomedical-oriented business activity. However, a third piece exempts a cluster of established commercial and retail businesses in the zone from the land use restrictions.

The exempted businesses, within the intersection of North Union and East Market Streets, will continue normal operations as long as they remain there.

Council's Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Linda Omobien said Council is satisfied with the provisions of all the related legislation. Now that the land use issues have been resolved, she said, the Biomedical Corridor and Biomedical Incentive Zones are poised to attract more companies developing cutting-edge health technologies - which mean more good-paying jobs for Akron residents, she said.

"This corridor lends itself to the possibility for many jobs of the future involving new developments such as hospitals and biotech firms," Omobien (At Large) said. "We've taken time to review a number of issues, particularly as they relate to existing businesses in the proposed Biomedical Incentive Zone; and as long as individuals stay in their properties, however they're being used now will continue."

Council approved the establishment of the Biomedical Corridor in 2006, which originally encompassed land and properties between and including Summa Health System's Akron City Hospital, Akron General Medical Center and Akron Children's Hospital. The Biomedical Incentive Zone now includes Akron General, Children's and Akron City Hospitals, as well as portions of the University Park Alliance Neighborhood, the Central business District and the Downtown Entertainment District.

The expanded corridor now includes the area between Cedar and West Exchange Streets on the western end of the corridor. The corridor is bound by Furnace Street to the north, Barteges Street to the south and North Adams Street to the east.