UA moves to reduce real estate portfolio, maintain community impact with Knight Foundation grant02/12/2021
The University of Akron will soon begin a new phase in a plan to reduce its real estate holdings, allowing the institution to better align its real estate portfolio with future enrollment trends and educational mission. A nearly $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will allow UA to hire a real estate consultant to develop a plan for reducing and or repurposing properties to assist the institution’s budget.
Once hired, the consultant will work with UA administrators and the Board of Trustees to make recommendations around resolving and optimizing current holdings for public use, as well as to identify potential opportunities to sell, lease or enter public-private partnerships with some structures. The planned efforts will continue to enhance and honor UA’s commitment to its civic and geographic partners in Akron and the region.
“The University has been a vibrant part of Akron for more than 150 years,” says UA President Gary L. Miller. “We are committed to making strategic investments, not only in our enterprise, but in maintaining our role in the broader community as a vital partner intersecting with residents and businesses. Our University -- our cultural and physical assets – are part of the history of Akron. None of these real estate alterations will change that focus.”
“A competitive advantage of the University of Akron is its proximity to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods,” says Kyle Kutuchief, program director for Knight Foundation in Akron. “This development plan will directly benefit Akronites by strengthening that connection, leading to a more vibrant campus and community.”
Enrollment at UA, as with many institutions, has been reduced over the past decade due, in part, to demographic shifts and economic uncertainty. The University’s current student enrollment stands at approximately 18,000 students, and leaders view the reductions in real estate holdings as an opportunity to reduce liability and increase the productivity of remaining structures.
The Knight Foundation grant will build on a previous Knight investment that helped UA develop a strategic list of properties for sale, enhancing UA and its anchor role in the Akron community. The effort fits into a broader Knight initiative to strengthen public spaces, transforming assets to foster greater community engagement. The UA transactions will likely generate additional revenue through the sale or transfer to partners, reducing operational costs to the University. The changes will also enhance campus, downtown and surrounding neighborhoods by reducing vacancy and increasing investments in other areas.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.