Demolitions and Esplanade construction scheduled for Wednesday


Susan Kirkman Zake

An excavator run by Pat McCorkle, who works for Butcher & Son Excavating in Akron, knocks down the front facade of the house at 132 S. Lincoln St. in Kent. The house was the first of several to come down as construction began Wednesday, Aug. 8, along the path of the Kent State Esplanade extension. The extension will connect front campus with downtown Kent. Photo by Susan Kirkman Zake.

Rex Santus

The first significant steps will be taken Wednesday to expand the University Esplanade from Kent State’s campus to downtown Kent, said Michael Bruder, director of design and construction at the university.

The demolition of two houses — 132 S. Lincoln St. and 133 S. Willow St. — is scheduled for Wednesday, among other construction.

On Monday, construction workers began fencing in the South Lincoln Street house in preparation for demolition.

“I would say this is absolutely [the beginning],” Bruder said. “A couple of houses were taken down previously, and a mound of soil was stockpiled, but those were preparatory tasks that just needed to get done. We weren’t actually building anything.”

Emily Vincent, director of University Media Relations, said in addition to the housing demolitions, the contracted work will include “Esplanade excavation,” which involves “digging the streets, relocating the underground utilities and spreading the stockpiled soil that’s been a mound on the side of Erie Street to raise the grade of Esplanade extension.”

Bruder said this initial construction will conclude somewhat quickly.

“We will complete the construction site that is going up, and we will … commence some of the house demolition,” Bruder said. “We are planning to relocate a house. That should happen on [Aug. 11]. The moving of the house will take one day, and the demolition of the houses — they come down pretty quickly. There is some site cleanup and some hauling off, so it would probably take two to three weeks total.”

The house being relocated is the Kent Wells Sherman House, which will be moved down Haymaker Parkway to the end of College Ave.

Vincent said it is possible construction may begin earlier than Wednesday, but it is unlikely.

“There was a possibility the contractors could start work [Aug. 5], but the last update I received earlier said it will most likely be on Wednesday,” Vincent said. “So it sounds like [the houses] are still on schedule to be demolished Wednesday, and then there will be other houses that will be demolished, including those on Erie Street.”

The expansion of the Esplanade to downtown Kent was first publicly discussed in November 2006.

Tom Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Operations, said in 2009 that the university had planned to extend the Esplanade as early as the 1990s.

“The connection became more exciting as we built the Esplanade in [2005 and 2006], and we saw how many more people walked on campus as we developed that from end to end,” Euclide said in 2009. “We saw that as an opportunity to continue that Esplanade straight downtown and create that connection that we always wanted.”

Bruder said the Esplanade expansion’s progress it subjective.

“I guess it sort of depends upon how you look at it,” Bruder said. “There was the acquisition of the property, which was sort of the initial stage. We’ve now obtained all the property we need for this project, and we’ve completed the design. The construction is just getting started.”

The Esplanade expansion is slated for completion in March 2013.

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].