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Akron, Ohio

City Creates Vacant Building Registration Program to Address Blighted Commercial Buildings in Akron Neighborhoods

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Akron City Council votes unanimously in favor of the legislation

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander-Nischt
Published: 06-12-2018

Akron, Ohio, June 11, 2018 – Tonight, Akron City Council passed legislation to create a City of Akron Vacant Building Registration (VBR) program, to address blighted commercial buildings in Akron neighborhoods. The new law will require owners of vacant commercial or industrial buildings to register with the City, keep the properties secure and well-lit, and submit a plan to renovate, secure or demolish the structure.

The VBR law will allow the City to hold property owners accountable and, when appropriate, order problematic buildings demolished. The ordinance was championed by Mayor Dan Horrigan, and many members of Council contributed toward the development of the final legislation.

“Vacant commercial and industrial buildings impact nearly all Akron neighborhoods,” Mayor Horrigan remarked. “Years ago, as a ward council person, I recall getting complaints about the same dilapidated buildings week after week, and discovering, frustratingly, that the City had little power to address the issue. Today, after years of study and development, I’m proud to say that this legislation finally gives the City the tools we need to tackle these problems head on. I thank Council for their valuable input and support and I look forward to working with them to identify and address problematic properties in every neighborhood.”

In the coming months, the City will take steps to notify property owners of the requirements of the new law and educate the community about how to report blighted vacant commercial or industrial properties to the City.  Information about how to register will be made available on the City’s website.

The VBR program, modeled after other cities like Sandusky, Cincinnati, and Youngstown, will require owners of vacant commercial/industrial properties to do the following:

  • register the property and pay an annual registration fee ($300 per year for buildings of less than 10,000 sq. ft; $500 per year for buildings of 10,000 sq. ft or more);
  • submit a Vacant Building Plan describing plans for maintaining and repurposing the site (either renovate, secure or demolish); and
  • safely and appropriately maintain the property in accordance with all applicable codes.

Fines will be issued for failure to register or properly maintain a property, and enforcement will be primarily complaint-based to address the most problematic properties first. Information collected under this program will be shared with other City departments, including Police and Fire, to ensure that Akron’s first responders know the condition and occupancy of a commercial structure when responding to a call for service. 

All funds collected under this new law will be used exclusively to maintain the VBR program and help cover the cost of demolishing properties that are beyond repair, while the City pursues payment from the property owner.  The new Vacant Commercial or Industrial Appeals Board will have the power to order structures to be repaired or demolished and will hear appeals of violations issued under the new law.

“The benefits of this program are countless—it will remove blight, reduce crime, stabilize neighborhoods, increase property values, help foster economic development, and improve the safety of our citizens and our first responders,” Mayor Horrigan continued. “In several years, the goal is to see significantly fewer vacant commercial buildings in Akron because they are either reoccupied with new businesses or safely demolished to make room for new, productive uses that add value to our city.”

Stay tuned for future announcements about the Vacant Building Registration program and how to comply or report violations.

 

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