Lots of earth is being moved near the Sterling Jewelers Inc. headquarters as Akron works to turn a 5-acre area that includes a detention pond into a wetland.
The goal is to handle runoff of stormwater better from the commercial and residential development in the Bath Township-Fairlawn area.
“We’re going to make it into more of a wetland area [with wetland plants and trees]. It’s not going to look like this big old lake anymore,” said Brad Beckert, Akron economic development engineering manager.
The project — which has involved dredging the detention pond — will hopefully result in less water flowing into Yellow Creek and flooding of backyards in the nearby Lake of the Woods housing development.
There’s no guarantee that the flooding will be eliminated, but the wetlands should serve to slow the waters down. “I never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us,” Beckert said.
Beckert said a few nearby residents have expressed concern about trees behind people’s homes being removed to make way for construction equipment. Beckert said a new buffer will be installed.
Nearby employer Sterling Jewelers plans to install a walking path in the area, Beckert said.
The project is being financed with a $1 million grant that Akron received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, $2 million that Sterling will front and the city will pay back with a 10-year note at an interest rate of 3 percent, and about $810,000 that Sterling will pay the city in exchange for 16 more acres on two corners of its 375 Ghent Road campus.
The company, which employs about 2,500 people in the Akron area, wants the land for possible future expansion, Beckert said.
Sterling has yet to publicly reveal any expansion plans.
Meanwhile, on the southeast corner of the Smith-Ghent intersection, another situation will be addressed.
The building there is the current headquarters of surfaces and laminates manufacturer Omnova Solutions Inc.
However, Omnova recently announced plans to leave the building, across from Akron city land and in Fairlawn, moving its headquarters to Beachwood.
The company will build a new facility in the Cleveland suburb; the move is expected to take place next year.
Fairlawn made a significant effort to retain Omnova, which provides about 4 percent of the city’s tax revenue. The city put together a proposal, including financial incentives, to relocate Omnova to an office park area off Cleveland-Massillon Road.
Omnova’s current headquarters is owned by an investment group, Fairlawn’s Mayor Bill Roth has said.
Roth has said that area commercial real-estate brokers have told him that leasing the building could take some time because it is owned by a consortium. A representative of the building’s owners did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Omnova has said there are no plans to move its Akron technology center and its Mogadore manufacturing facility.
Katie Byard can be contacted at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.