August 4, 2021
Community Arts Center Feasibility Study Overview
1927 Building Status
Hudson Heritage Association continues to diligently work with the Hudson City School District (HCSD) to find a viable solution to preserve the integrity of the historic 1927 Building. We remain hopeful that our ongoing discussions, ideas, and constructive dialogue will result in a project that will complement our community, neighborhood, and the Historic District of Hudson. 
And while HHA believes that the fundamental approach to demolishing three-quarters of the historic 1927 Building is wrong, we are strongly urging the HCSD and developer to take the time to explore design alternatives that respect the historic integrity of the building, while also preserving and showcasing the historic exterior of the building and surrounding landscape. In addition, we continue to advocate for the importance of incorporating preservation, façade, and conservation easements into the sale of the property and building that will ensure that both the open space of the streetscape, lawn and century-old Oak trees are preserved, as well as all four sides of the historic 1927 Building’s exterior.

Hudson Heritage Association does not stand against development or new housing, but we advocate for smart, strategic and appropriate use of the property. We stand ready to use this time and our expertise to assist and support the HCSD in their plans to appropriately preserve the school and honor its architectural/historic merits for the community. 

A short delay, especially on the heels of a global pandemic, will give everyone – developers, school officials and the community – the time to get this right. We owe that to our community, our children and the generations to come.

As part of that effort to get it right, we have shared with the HCSD the results of the first part of the study HHA commissioned to examine the feasibility of adapting the 1927 Building for use as a community arts center. Details of what we learned are described below. 

Community Arts Center Feasibility Study (Part I)
In March, Hudson Heritage Association (HHA) began its effort to undertake a feasibility study and seek financial support for the 1927 Building Fund campaign. We received overwhelming support from the Hudson community, raising close to $19,000 in donations! HHA would like to thank our members, other individuals, organizations and foundations for their support and generosity.

HHA hired Webb Management Services, a team of experts in the development and operation of cultural arts facilities, to conduct a Feasibility Study to assess the viability and adaptive reuse of the historic 1927 Building as a community arts center. The consulting team conducted 27 Zoom-based interviews with a range of constituents, potential facility users, community organizations and institutions, government and business leaders, and other community members. In addition, they received nearly 900 responses to an online survey within our community.

The Feasibility Study Phase I scope of work included a market analysis, competitive analysis of regional facilities, community interviews, a community survey, determining potential uses and user needs/demands, community benefits and impacts, as well as providing conclusions and recommendations. The Community Arts Center Feasibility Study/Needs Assessment Report (Part I), which was completed in late May, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Key findings from the Feasibility Study’s Part I analysis:
  • Local and regional indoor performance facilities are primarily located in schools and religious institutions. Most have seating capacities between 100-400, medium-quality ratings and low-to-no availability.

  • There are gaps for a high-quality performance facility in the market. The Barlow Community Center is the only performance space in Hudson not associated with a school or church, with a seating capacity of only 188 seats and a quality rating of 2 (out of 4).

  • It was noted there are no mid-size, high-quality performance facilities in the Akron market. There is a clear gap in facilities with 500 to 1000-seat capacity.

  • There is an opportunity for the 1927 Building to attract a range of speakers, musical acts, comedians, and traveling theatre productions.

  • There are community organizations, institutions, and groups that could serve as potential partners and stakeholders in the 1927 Building adaptive reuse that require a mix of classrooms, gathering and theater spaces.

  • Over 75-percent of the survey respondents believe arts programs for children and seniors are needed in Hudson.

Key conclusions from the Feasibility Study’s Part I:
  • Hudson and its surrounding communities have all the population features (educational attainment, demographics, etc.) that suggest high propensity to participate in the arts, both as passive attenders and as active participants.

  • An opportunity exists to redevelop the 1927 Building as a community arts center that is supported by a combination of local organization rental demand, regional touring demand for a mid-size theater and community demand for more active arts and education programs.

  • The development of new arts facilities in the 1927 Building could support community goals around enhancing residents' quality of life, especially for our youth and seniors, as well as attracting new visitors to our historic downtown.

  • Consideration should be given to the idea of redeveloping the 1927 Building as a community arts center, initially focusing on the creation of simple and affordable spaces that can support a broad range of active arts programs. Use of the auditorium as a high-quality, mid-sized regional venue should be considered a long-range project.

While HHA is encouraged with the Feasibility Study’s Part I report findings, conclusions, and recommendations, we have chosen to hold off with the Part II scope of work, as we continue our dialogue with the Hudson City School District.

Hudson Heritage Association | |

PO Box 2218 - Hudson, OH 44236