In 1871, construction on Dr. B.F. Goodrich’s first rubber plant in Akron, Ohio. By the end of World War II the site had grown to become the largest rubber factory in the world, encompassing over 90 buildings and 3 million sq. ft. of space. At its peak, the complex was a self-contained city with its own fire, police, and medical services and boasted the first telephone system in Akron.
By 1988, the property’s massive size, multistory layout, deferred maintenance, and obsolete infrastructure led Goodrich, as well as the mainstream development community, to conclude that this property was functionally obsolete. At a cost of $18 Million, demolition was planned. Stuart Lichter and his partners could see what no one else envisioned and purchased the “brownfield” property with the goal of returning this historical, yet challenged, landmark to an economically vibrant part of the Akron community. Over 5,000 jobs were created and Canal Place became the first private property to win the prestigious Arthur D. Little Award for Excellence in Economic Development. The site continues to thrive as a mixed-use redevelopment in the heart of the city.