KSU Esplanade expansion project expected to be ready by late July

Cindy Deng

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Graphic by Katherine Edwards and Rebecca Reis.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that there is no scheduled date for the Wick Poetry Center to open in the May Prentice House, but the house will be finished by December 2013.

After 17 years of planning and implementation, the Kent State University Esplanade will finally connect the gap between campus and the city of Kent by the end of July, despite setbacks.

The original completion date was set to be June 30, but the construction crew pushed back the date due to recent storms and underground utility work. The proposed College of Architecture and Environmental Design building site — expected to stretch along the southern side of the Esplanade between Lincoln and Willow streets by 2015 — had underground utility issues that would have conflicted with constructing the new building. Cooperation between the university and the city to install new city utilities under the construction site will allow for future expansion.

Michael Bruder, director of design and construction in the Office of the University Architect, said the relocation of water, sanitary and 48-inch storm sewer extended the Esplanade completion date by 30 days.

“We were disappointed, but thought it was a good thing our completion was June and not November,” Bruder said in an email about the original completion date.

Another building that will accompany the Esplanade is the May Prentice house. Bruder said the house will be relocated on the northern side and eastern edge of the Esplanade near Lincoln Street and finished by December 2013. In addition, the university is raising funds for the Wick Poetry Center to be housed inside it.

Since May 29, Lincoln Street has been closed off to continue the Esplanade construction. Geology professor Neil Wells, who parks in the R1 lot next to the Esplanade expansion, said the roadblock has only been a minor issue.

“It wouldn’t be the first time they said it would take longer than expected,” Wells said. “They’ve made pretty good progress, so I hope it’ll be done soon.”

Lincoln Street is expected to reopen when the construction there is finished on June 28.

Rachel Moore, junior accounting student and sales representative at Campus Book & Supply on Lincoln Street, said the roadblock has not affected business. However, she said she has heard Destination Kent State visiting families saying the roadblock has caused confusion getting to the university.

“It has affected the route because there’s a lot of [Destination Kent State] going around,” Moore said. “We have people coming in that are trying to find their way back to the Student Center. They have no idea [where to go] except for Lincoln to get there.”

For the next few weeks, Bruder said the construction crew will focus on paving bricks on the Esplanade and the roadway crossing Lincoln Street. He said they hope to finish the Esplanade archway in time for the Kent Heritage Festival, which will be held July 6. He said the remainder of the project should be completed by the end of July.

“The project has taken nearly 20 years to realize in its entirety,” Bruder said. “It is remarkably satisfying to see the project near completion after so many years of planning and hard work by so many people.”

Contact Cindy Deng at [email protected].