History of The Goodyear Theater
Completed in 1920, the industrial university and recreational institution was developed by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for the welfare of its employees. The building included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1686, the largest stage and theater in Akron in its time, and one of the largest in Ohio.
Goodyear Hall is part of Akron’s historic Goodyear campus of 5.5 million square feet of buildings spread over 400 acres that was built starting in the early 1900s. Designed by Walker and Weeks as one building, Goodyear Hall includes the Ohio Savings Bank and Trust, in the Neo-Classical Revival style, and the Hall designed in the Gothic Revival style. Goodyear built the Hall and bank to offer its employees facilities for mental, physical and social betterment. It contains a large gymnasium, auditorium and other recreational amenities as well as classrooms and offices.
The rehabilitation project is part of the East End mixed use redevelopment initiative to create a “live, work and play” environment. It is the first rehabilitation project of the retired Historic Goodyear campus, and the third component of the development that includes the new Goodyear Headquarters and the Hilton Garden Inn hotel. The estimated cost of the total East End development is $500 million dollars, including streetscape enhancements and work on the Little Cuyahoga River, which runs through the Goodyear campus.
Undertaking this massive project to transform the east area of Akron is certainly a risky venture, but Goodyear Hall, by the nature of its solid design and overall good condition made a seamless transition to residential mixed-use. The work included structural stabilization, masonry cleaning and repointing, and new egress doors and roof systems. Paired double-hung windows replaced unsympathetic 1970s aluminum windows. The steel industrial sashes were replaced with new matching units. Interior renovations maintained historic spaces on the first two floors, while introducing residential units on the upper levels. The auditorium equipment and finishes were updated.
The rehabilitation included the creation of 106 residential units, commercial space and more than 85,000 square feet of recreational spaces to be made available through various management entities.
Like other large scale projects, financing for Goodyear Hall was complex, employing conventional financing, private equity, new market tax credits, federal and state historic tax credits and the Summit County bond fund. The apartments are now over 70% occupied and with the auditorium and gymnasium back in use, the neighborhood has become more active. This project will be further enhanced when the city completes street improvements in 2017. Congratulations to all involved in this important rehabilitation project.