Hurley reassures residents of support for Highland Square grocery store; Neighborhood meeting scheduled for Wednesday at Highland Square branch library

April 21, 2009

WARD 1 - Ward 1 Councilman James P. Hurley III pledged to reaffirm Council's support of a grocery store in Highland Square during Monday night's Akron City Council meeting.

"We've been really pressured about putting a grocery store in Highland Square, and it's been a trying time," Hurley said. "I want residents to know that next week I will introduce a resolution stating the city's commitment to getting a grocery store there."

Ward 1 and nearby residents have held a series of meetings calling on the city and Council to step up efforts to bring a grocery store into the $6 million Highland Square Plaza, which includes 20,200 square feet of retail space and a brand new 12,000-square-foot Highland Square Branch Library.

Another meeting to discuss the issue will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the library, 807 W. Market St.

Council President and Ward 3 Councilman Marco Sommerville will add his name to the resolution, as many residents of his ward live near the plaza and have expressed interest in a grocery store as well.

"I'm also a ward councilman affected by this," Sommerville said. "I think at this point in time we need results. I'm hopeful that in the near future we will come up with a solution."

The Highland Square revitalization project between the City of Akron, Albrecht Inc., First Merit Bank and the Akron-Summit County Public Library was completed in 2007. During construction, Albrecht gave away nearly $6,000 in prize money to individuals and teams that submitted the best designs to include elements of mathematics, science and art to be incorporated into the finished buildings and common area of the new complex.

So far, some eateries and retail establishments have opened shop in the plaza, but still no grocery store operator has committed to the planned 6,400-square-foot building designed to accommodate a small market. The city has offered several proposals to grocery operators to locate in the space, but all have been turned down either due to the size of the space, parking issues or current market conditions.

"I realize it isn't easy; it took eight to 10 years to get a grocery store in East Akron," Hurley said. "I appreciate everyone who has worked to support this effort."