Downtown development to add hundreds of jobs


Photo by Coty Giannelli.

Brad Tansey

With all the construction underway in downtown Kent, Daniel Smith, Kent’s economic development director, anticipates a wealth new jobs in the next decade.

“We see that the immediate 700-800 jobs will generate much more investment and interest in the downtown area,” Smith said.

Smith also noted that the project has made progress since students left for winter break in early December.

“The downtown project in and of itself has moved forward,” Smith said. “Obviously there’s much more steel that’s been put together since (students) left.”

Smith said the four major projects, which are properties owned by the Davey Tree Resource Group and Ametek Electromechanical Group, Acorn Alley II, Kent Central Gateway and the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center are going as planned with no major delays.

“Because we’ve had very good weather in November and December, we appear to be on schedule,” he said.

Smith expects the entire project to be finished in 2013.

Davey Tree/Ametek properties

Smith said construction for the site between South Depeyster, Erie, South Water streets and Haymaker Parkway is under way. The project will include eight new restaurants in the three-story building. The building will consist of mixed-use retail, office and residential space.

“The actual skin of the building is gone on the (Davey) building,” Dan Smith said. “We can actually see the windows. It’s starting to look like an actual office building.”

Acorn Alley II

With the opening of Laziza’s, Zoupwerks, Tree City Coffee & Pastry and Wild Earth Outfitters, the second installment of Acorn Alley has brought four more businesses to the downtown area, with more openings planned for the next few weeks.

Ron Burbick, Acorn Alley developer and founder, said he thinks all the construction is going to attract people from the surrounding area.

“Once you get people coming downtown, they’re not going to go just to Acorn Alley; they’re going to go everywhere. We’ve already seen sales up dramatically just downtown this Christmas,” he said.

Burbick said some stores are reporting a 30 to 40 percent increase in sales.

The third building in the development, which will include a photo studio on the first floor and office space on the upper level, should be open by the end of February, Burbick said.


PARTA hired Lockhart Concrete Co., from Akron, to build the retaining wall for the parking deck, said Bryan Smith, PARTA Project Manager.

Smith said Lockhart is already on site.

The $26 million transit center will have 300 parking spaces, 18,000 square feet of retail and office space along with 10 bus bays.

The cost to use the parking deck has not been determined. The company will hire a parking consultant to help determine a cost. The consultant has not yet been hired.

Bryan Smith said the opening for the parking deck is set for March 2013. The final completion of the whole building is set for June 2013.

Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center

Lockhart Concrete Co. is also handling the groundwork for the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center. Tom Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities at Kent State, said construction of the building’s foundation began right before Christmas.

Euclide said the hotel and conference center is expected to be finished in late February to early March 2013.

Contact Brad Tansey at [email protected].