Parking garage officially opens with celebratory event

Jessica White

Local, state and national public figures gathered downtown Monday to celebrate the grand opening of PARTA’s Kent Central Gateway.

The $26 million parking garage, transit center and retail facility — funded mostly through a $20 million federal TIGER grant — helped to leverage other development downtown. TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

“We wanted to advocate projects that will transform communities and offer long-term economic growth,” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said when the grant was announced in 2010. “We feel this project is transformational, and we advocated strongly for the Kent Central Gateway project.”

Ryan spoke at Monday’s celebration, which closed Erie Street from 2 to 4 p.m. Representatives from PARTA, the city of Kent, the Federal Transportation Administration and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office also attended.

City Manager Dave Ruller said the Gateway is an important link between downtown and Kent State, as well as a major part of Kent’s ongoing growth.

“The transit center is a critical piece in the downtown revitalization, serving as a transit, bicycling and parking hub for all of the new business activity in the downtown,” he said. “The building is located prominently along Erie Street and Haymaker Parkway, so it lives up to its name as an impressive gateway connecting the campus to the downtown.”

Since PARTA hosted the grand opening, the event didn’t cost the city any money, Ruller said. PARTA also invited several of the notable guests.

“This will be a day to thank everyone for their contributions and officially announce the transit center as open for business,” Ruller said.

“Kent Central Gateway is a model for the rest of Ohio,” Brown said in a press release. “By working together through local leadership, federal resources, and private investment, Kent is experiencing positive growth and economic development which has solidified its reputation as a great place to live.”

Katy Coduto contributed reporting. Contact Jessica White at [email protected].