AKRON, Ohio — In the vacant basement of a former opera house in downtown Akron, the sound of jazz flute echoed off steal beams and sandstone walls Tuesday afternoon.
The flutist was no “pie-eyed-piper” (see the video), it was Tony Troppe, the developer responsible for the entertainment complex along Maiden Lane on downtown Akron’s north side. Troppe is preparing to open a jazz club there next month.
In the basement of the Everett Building at the corner of Main and West Market streets, BLU Jazz+ is a low-slung tribute to the types of underground clubs where jazz flourished in its golden age. Still, the finishing touches are upscale.
“We are making a joyful noise for people right here in downtown Akron,” Troppe said. “We take a discarded basement space and we clean up the old stone.”
The club the latest example of one of several adaptive reuse projects Troppe is planning, including a 23-unit loft apartment complex that got the green light Monday from Akron City Council. The building includes recycled wood from other buildings through Akron and many of the original features and suffices.
BLU Jazz+ will be a departure from Troppe’s first music venue in the complex, Musica, which hosts mainly traveling alternative nameplates and indy rock bands. Troppe said he excepts a slightly more affluent, yet still artistically inclined audience.
The club will be the fifth entertaining space Troppe has opened in the neighborhood since 1996. He also owns and operates Musica, the Nightlight theater, Uncorked Wine Bar and Mocha Maiden.
Troppe hopes to have the space ready for customers by mid-October. In the mean time, here are a few cool aspects you can look forward to.
A “suspended, undulating, sculpted”ceiling that will cast blue light across the concrete bar.
Metallic wallpaper scattered amongst restored sandstone and exposed brick walls.
A photo gallery of jazz artisans donated by the Oberlin Conservatory. The photographs were taken at Cleveland’s Skytop Lounge from 1956 to 1970, Troppe said, and will be shown to the public for the first time.
Troppe has been working to create a critical mass of attractions in the area that he hopes will fuel several residential housing projects currently in the works.
“We have created fun places for people to go hang out,” Troppe said. “Now we have to give them places to stay.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
John Harper/Northeast Ohio Media Group