Summit DD agrees to sell unused buildings, unveils renovation plans

Staff report
This is a rendering of the street view of the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board's location in Cuyahoga Falls.  The city's planning commission has moved plans for a 7,200 square foot addition to the full City Council for consideration.

A cooperative agreement for the future use of  the Summit DD campus in Tallmadge has received its last needed approval.

Summit DD’s Board was the final governing body to approve the agreement between the county, Tallmadge and Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board (Summit DD) for the future use of the property on the corner of Route 91 and Howe Road.  Both Summit County Council and Tallmadge City Council approved the agreement earlier this month.  

The cooperative agreement has been in discussions since Summit DD announced plans in September 2019 to renovate its vacant workshop sites in Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton into office spaces and vacate the Tallmadge Campus that housed the former Weaver Workshop and Weaver School. 

The agreement divides the 29-acre Tallmadge campus into four parcels. The site includes three buildings, a baseball field and soccer fields. The county will purchase the east and west parcels, which is the current Tallmadge Center and Transportation Garage, to house the consolidated dispatch center and to address the storage needs of Summit County public safety teams. The city of Tallmadge would acquire the central parcel (current Administration Building and former Weaver School) and the ballfields for economic development and job growth.  The ballfield will continue to support Challenger Baseball. 

“In my opinion this is an exciting project for city [of Tallmadge] and for all of us,” commented Mayor David Kline at the Tallmadge City Council meeting. 

The city has been considering a variety of uses including a culinary school, nonprofit hub and a daycare. 

According to the agreement, the county would sell the 129,300-square-foot building and the athletic fields to the city for $1.

"The building is broken into different wings, so there could be multiple uses," Kline has said. "The cafeteria could be a culinary school and provide food to different groups. Could our parks and rec department take care of the gym? The sky's the limit here, and I think it's so exciting what it could be turned into." 

Also under consideration is using classroom wings as a one-stop shop for nonprofits like the Lions Club, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce; or possibly creating an incubator wing that would rent space to fledgling businesses as they develop and grow, similar to the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron.

The Weaver School and Workshop was dedicated on Sept. 12, 1971, and was funded by bond levies raised when House Bill 169 passed in 1967 to create county boards of developmental disabilities.  

“Our Tallmadge buildings were built from the grassroot efforts of parents and advocates and have served our community for more than 50 years,” stated Superintendent John Trunk. “As our programs and services have evolved over 50 years to become more community based, it gives us great comfort to know the legacy of these buildings will continue to serve the needs of Summit County.” 

This is a schematic design plan of Summit DD’s proposed newly renovated lobby.

Proceeds acquired by the implementation of the cooperative agreement will round out the funding to implement plans announced in September 2019 to move from the Tallmadge Campus into Summit DD’s Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls locations. 

Summit DD’s Board approved contracts with Hasenstab Architects and Summit Construction earlier this year to renovate the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton workshops into office space. The city of Cuyahoga Falls passed a land purchase economic development agreement in 2019 to purchase the land adjacent to Summit DD’s site and construct a parking lot. 

“The collaboration between Summit DD, the County, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, and Tallmadge to best serve the needs of the community and those with disabilities is government at its best,” commented Trunk. “ 

 “Our goal has always been to honor our history while we provide a hub for those we serve, our staff and the community to support our efforts of advocacy and engagement,” commented Trunk.  

Construction on the Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls locations is expected to begin in the spring, with plans to relocate staff by the spring of 2022.