Background in Industrial Design; COO of Testa Companies, designing commercial real estate; developed business processes into systems base; President of Homebuilders Assn. Specialize in gov't. projects for special needs. 50 employees produce 1500 homes/yr. With loft conversion popularity he wanted green tech and modern flexibility, i.e., bring Manhattan lifestyle to downtown Akron (mixed-use facility). Wanted connection to rail. TIFF financing pays for staircase to tracks. Build shell, let others develop the inside. Testa likes the challenge of developments within greenspace; buiding around nature. Built 9 houses on Coburn St., then developed Cascade Village and Elizabeth Park. Frustrated by communities that don't "get" economic development. Does not compete with Nat'l builders; not the same product. Testa knows the market; uses GIS technology to locate vacant parcels. Participates in 27 partnerships ; shares well. Not afraid of historical preservation developments: OC Barber Farm, Diamond Match. Reused existing buildings; mimicking architecture, even creating historical tours. Built-in legacy at Elizabeth Park. Daughter to take over and operate. Attracting and retaining a creative class as the raw commodity of the revolution. Looking ahead to restaurant development and boutique loft hotel. Charm of Akron. Present the facts, then sits back and listens to community's point of view; brings people together. Takes on worthy projects, not battles. Villa de Mont , Mediterranean Village, Tuscan Villas.


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Testa, Joel (interviewee)


Johansson, Andreas (interviewer)


Rivers Roads and Rails 2008



Document Type

Oral History


43 minutes

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
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