A Main Street landmark building, once known as the Mayflower Hotel, is about to get a major facelift in the ongoing effort to revitalize downtown.
A $10 million plan through the city and Capital Realty Group calls for street-level retail, a concierge service to help older residents of the building and a remodel of all of the apartments.
"The Mayflower project is a large piece of downtown Akron's renaissance," said James Hardy, the city's chief of staff.
The Mayflower was a hotel from 1931 to 1971. Famous guests included Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, Ronald Reagan and Katherine Hepburn.
The telephone that was famously used to make the first Alcoholics Anonymous call remains in the lobby. That call led to a hotel meeting between Dr. Bob and Bill W. and the eventual formation of AA.
For several years, the building has been named Mayflower Manor and is home to low income or disabled residents.
"It really hasn't received the kind of love it needs from the standpoint of the structure itself," Hardy said.
However, the project, which should start in 2019, will restore the building while also preserving some its historical features, including the art deco style, a gold-colored elevator and its ornate staircase.
Many of the residents welcome the improvements.
"I think it would be great to fix up the place. It needs a lot of work done," said Shari Nemeth.
"It's fantastic," added John Toth. "Anytime they do an upgrade you can't go wrong. Am I right? Brings up the property values all around here."
Eventually, Mayflower will transition to senior living, but it will remain a lower income building.
The revamp of the Mayflower comes on the heels of a major redesign of Main Street and several downtown projects, including the Bowery project, which will bring in more retail, office space and new apartments.
"It's very important to Mayor Horrigan and to the city that the downtown renaissance that's occurring be for everybody," Hardy said.