Costly on-campus housing for University of Akron

COLUMBUS – The University of Akron has apologized to state lawmakers who approved the school’s plan to buy a 190-room hotel complex for $22.7 million, a price more than double its official tax valuation.

The bipartisan state Controlling Board approved the deal Monday in a 7-0 vote, making it one of the most expensive real estate deals by a public university in Ohio in two decades.

Ted Mallo, an attorney for the university, said later he made a mistake when he told the board that Summit County had appraised the property at $28 million. The full value set by the county is $9.8 million.

In a letter sent to board members Tuesday, Mallo said he confused the county’s figures with three independent property appraisals, which placed a value on the eight-story, Quaker Square hotel complex between $22.7 million and $29.8 million.

Joe Secrest, president of the Controlling Board, said yesterday the three members of the Ohio House and three members of the Ohio Senate who join him on the board were discussing whether they wanted to bring the university back to clarify the numbers.

The $22.7 million price tag was still a good deal – right at the low end of the three appraisals, said Ted Curtis, a vice president for capital planning and facilities management at the University of Akron.

There is often a disparity between the market price of real estate and an official tax valuation, said state Rep. Ted Celeste of suburban Columbus, who is also a Controlling Board member.

The university plans to turn the hotel complex into dormitory housing for 382 students, offices, a banquet hall and 450 parking spaces.