City Hall torn down to make way for student housing

Chelsea Graff

Kent’s City Hall and City Hall Annex, which housed city offices and a business incubator, were torn down June 17 to make way for a new 340-unit apartment complex.

“It was kind of sad,” said Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala. “I’ve had 18 years on city council, and I’ve moved from the old police station where it used to be city hall. It’s kind of sentimental for me being one of the older representatives on council.”

The offices that were housed in the buildings are currently spread throughout Kent in different locations. For example, the Kent Health Department is now temporarily housed in the Kent State Michael Schwartz Center.

“Right now, we are looking at options of where to go,” Fiala said. “Our main concern is to get the police station built and get them moved into a new facility, and then we’re going to look at our options.”

A student apartment complex, 345 Flats, will be built on the property. It will feature around 180 beds and offer studio apartments up through four-bedroom units.

Employees said they are still getting used to the changes in location.

“At the beginning, it was difficult,” said Justin Smith, Kent’s chief public health sanitarian, “but everyone that repeats coming here, like the funeral directors, figured it out.”

The buildings were demolished because it would have been too expensive to repair them. The city received $2.4 million for the buildings, which was double the buildings’ appraised value.

 “It was a wise move based upon the money offered to sell the buildings,” said law director James Silver. “The repairs that the buildings would have needed beginning this year (were costly), and the benefits there will be to downtown businesses with people living in the downtown area.”

Some of the sale money has been used for relocating, Fiala said, but the majority will be used to construct a new city hall building.

Fiala said he took four bricks from the demolition to put old history back into the new building.

 “I kind of like to take history with me when we go,” he said.

There are no current plans for where the new city hall will be located, but it will incorporate all of the offices that were previously split up between the two buildings.

“The new city hall is going to be a one-stop shop,” Fiala said. “We’re going to target that concept.”

The City Hall Annex housed the offices for the city manager, mayor, city council, law director and civil service. City Hall housed the budget department, counselor’s chambers and the health department.

Contact Chelsea Graff at [email protected]