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Preservation group hopes to save Akron Beacon Journal building from wrecking ball

The art deco building at 44 E. Exchange was the home of the Akron Beacon Journal until 2019. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.
Shane Wynn
/
AkronStock
The Art Deco building at 44 E. Exchange was the home of the Akron Beacon Journal until 2019. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.

Its clock tower has watched over Akron for 93 years, but the future of the Akron Beacon Journal building is less lofty.

The newspaper moved out of its long-time home in 2019 and its new owner, Capstone Real Estate Investments, LLC, an Alabama-based developer, wants to tear it down to make way for a parking lot.

That's something Dana Noel with Progress Through Preservation of Greater Akron believes is a waste.

"By tearing it down you'd be reverting to one of the lowest qualitative uses, which is a parking lot," he said.

Noel said the building has plenty of possibilities, “It’s a very solid building, and it’s still in very good condition.”

The building was named to the national register of historic places in 2021. That history is tied to John S. Knight, co-founder of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain, whose Akron Beacon Journal was the flagship paper.

“There’s just a lot of Akron history that goes with that building, and it would be a shame to lose it. It would be a huge loss to our shared historic heritage,” said Noel.

Efforts to attract new tenants have fallen through, party due to the huge size of the property, at 230,000 square feet and it's formidable construction.

Noel has floated the idea of converting part of the structure into a parking deck, something his construction firm has done with other historic buildings.

Noel and others have suggested repurposing the building as the new home for the Akron Police headquarters.

Mayor Dan Horrigan nixed the idea as being too expensive.

Noel and his group are encouraging the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday to say ‘no’ to plans for demolition.

Tuesday is also the mayoral primary. Seven Democrats are competing in the primary, and since no Republicans are on the ballot, the winner is likely to be Akron's next mayor. Noel is hoping that the winner of the primary will take a second look at options to save the Akron Beacon Journal building.

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Jeff St. Clair is the midday host for Ideastream Public Media.