Local developer buys historic Kent flour mill

Nathan Mehring

The Star of the West Flour Mill on North Water Street in downtown Kent sold to local developer The Tulips LLC on June 26. 

The parcels of land that included the mill and some surrounding land went on sale for $1.5 million. The parcels on which the mill stands sold for $405,000, said Tom Wilke, the Economic Development Director for the City of Kent.

The Tulips LLC’s plans for the 92,000 square foot mill are unknown at this time. According to Wilke, It does not want to tear down the historic mill, but will adapt it for other uses; still, parts of the mill won’t be able to be adaptably reused, because of its age and use as mill.

“It’s an older building with one purpose, being a flour mill,” Wilke said. “It’s past its time as one. Now, it can be a hotel, office or makerspace.”

Some options were proposed in a 2017 study, conducted by DS Architecture, to find the best uses for the mill. 

Some options proposed in the study were using it as an office space, a restaurant, a microbrewery and for skydiving in the silos. This study would be used to help guide future owners of the mill, Wilke said. 

“However, this was not a business plan,” he said. “Economic feasibility was not taken into account.”

Another option that was discussed was using the mill as a shared work space for Kent State students. The option would help the university establish a stronger presence downtown, Wilke said.

The Tulips LLC will have the final say on what happens to the mill, he said. Its owners, Badreeyeh Al Hasawi and Manouchehr Salehi, were not available to comment at this time.

“We have bright people bringing in new ideas,” Wilke said. “I’m looking forward to working with them.”

The mill has stood in Kent since 1879, and was built and owned by the Williams Brothers until it was sold to Star of the West Milling Co. in 1999, Wilke said. 

The company moved to a new mill in Milton, Ohio, and stopped production at the Kent mill in late 2017, Wilke said.

“They saw a big difference in production at the new mill,” he said. “The old mill was space-constrained and they weren’t able to grow… but they maintained the mill well.”

Wilke said the Star of the West Co. is still moving equipment out of the mill.

Nathan Mehring covers downtown. Contact him at [email protected]