No plans for Kent’s Main Street property

This+Google+map+shows+the+property+Kent+State+owns+between+Main+Street%2C+South+Lincoln+Street%2C+South+Willow+Street+and+the+Lester+A.+Lefton+Esplanade.+It+does+not+include+the+businesses+off+of+Main+Street.

This Google map shows the property Kent State owns between Main Street, South Lincoln Street, South Willow Street and the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade. It does not include the businesses off of Main Street.

Samantha Cottrill

Despite big construction projects nearby, such as the new facility for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University has no plans for the block between Lester A. Lefton Esplanade Extension and East Main street.

The block is part of almost 300 acres of property Kent State owns in Portage County, according to the Portage County Auditor website.

According to the interactive map on the auditor’s website, the property is full of plots of land that Kent State owns—with the exception of the Starbucks and the Campus Book and Supply on the corner of South Lincoln Street and East Main Street.

Most of the buildings shown on the website’s map are no longer there, but Google Maps shows that the plots of land are still correct.

Thomas Euclide, associate vice president of Kent’s Facilities and Planning Operations, said Kent owns the three commercial buildings on East Main Street, plus the structure behind the buildings.

When asked whether the university had any plans for the property, Euclide said, “Not at this point.” Euclide said the university currently has no plans for the property. “(We are) finding ways we can work well together to provide growth in the community.”

The city of Kent confirms this.

“I am not aware of any plans for the area,” Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said in an email in regard to the property.

He wrote that there were informal conversations with Kent State and the owner of Starbucks about receiving the same “rejuvenation” Downtown Kent and the campus received during the Bicentennial Plan—an environmental, social and economic revamping for Downtown Kent—from the early 2000s, but there are no official plans that have been put in place of which he is aware.

“We’ve discussed internally that it may be a good time to update the progress of the Bicentennial Plan but nothing formal has been done on that,” he said.

Kent bought the property in 2012 from Christopher Smeiles, a realtor and Portage County commissioner. Euclide said Smeile’s preference was to sell the entire property together so he could retire.

He did not know the cost of the property when Kent bought it, but the auditor’s website shows that Kent appears to have acquired the individual plots of land at no cost. Because the block is owned by a university, the property is tax exempt.

“It was not actually property, we pursued,” Euclide said. “[Kent] didn’t buy with any intent of development.” Because Smeiles wanted to get rid of the property at once to retire, Euclide described it as a bonus.

Currently, Cutler Real Estate still occupies one of the buildings as an office, Euclide said. The others were rentals upstairs that was managed by a third party for the university up until this semester. They are now vacant.

Samantha Cottrill is an administration reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]