Value Creation in the Commons

By Bronlynn Thurman

In the second installment of the Pillars of Civic Commons, we’ll be diving deeper into what we mean by Value Creation. 

“If you don’t value your community now, someone else will value it later.” These were the words of a colleague on a recent learning journey to Detroit and they ring true now more than ever. When we talk about Value Creation in the Commons, we’re talking about “encouraging additional investments in neighborhoods to foster local businesses and change the perception of safety while maintaining neighborhood affordability.”

How do we know that we are being successful in this work? We look to perceptions of safety. Are residents feeling safer in their neighborhood? We look towards retail activity. Are there more small businesses starting, or are the existing ones there growing? And lastly, we look towards real estate and affordability. Are the property values increasing? How much of the neighborhood’s housing stock is in good or excellent condition?

In downtown, more than 200 new market-rate apartments are being developed. These developments and the public space improvements through Civic Commons can help support one another, offering attractive services and spaces for people of all backgrounds. In addition to space improvements and developments, increased usership supports other programming. For example, Downtown Akron Partnership has expanded their ambassador program to seven days a week, and new summer programming has seen an increase in visitorship to a number of spaces, particularly Cascade Plaza.

In Park East, the housing market is already a mix of market-rate condos, public housing, senior housing, and more. A new ambassador program was recently implemented in the area, so the team is currently measuring the impact that this has on the perceptions of safety and stewardship of the space. The program is staffed by area residents. In Summit Lake, the community is currently working toward a shared vision plan for Summit Lake that will include some development along the western side of the lake. This plan will most likely not come to fruition for a number of years, but you can read more about it here.

Some questions that we’re mulling over are around value capture: How are we capturing the value in the community and keeping it there? As we begin to work deeper in this pillar, we will be adding more relevant articles below:

  • Summit Metro Parks Intends to Maintain Permanent Presence at Summit Lake: Article
  • Bowery Project Continues to Transform Plans for Block in Downtown Akron: Article

Interested in learning more about Reimagining the Civic Commons? Visit the national Civic Commons’ Medium page for more stories. Visit our Baseline Report for more information on where we've started.