Land west of campus essential to esplanade expansion, other downtown developments

Katie Nix

Since 2009, Kent State has purchased 29 parcels of land for the campus, totaling $5.9 million. In December, the university purchased three more parcels worth a total of $1.42 million.

The university wants to be better able to control its environs, President Lester Lefton said in a Dec. 17 Akron Beacon Journal article about the area, which is bounded by Lincoln Street, Main Street, Haymaker Parkway and East College Street.

The area’s original purpose was to isolate downtown Kent from the campus itself. However, about three years ago, the downtown area went through a period of rebirth thanks to the city as well as private companies, and now the goal is to have the campus and the downtown area join together to be more visitor-friendly.

This new purchase is part of Kent State’s plan to extend the esplanade. The eighth of a mile extension will cost roughly $3.3 million and will begin construction in the early spring of 2012.

Why should I care?

Extension of the esplanade will allow greater access to the downtown Kent area. 

By owning properties adjacent to the esplanade, the university will be able to choose the neighbors it rubs elbows with, Lefton said in the article.

However, the university is not kicking out any of the renters or owners of the buildings for the time being, so rent can offset the cost of purchasing the land.

The university has about 12 more properties to obtain before it owns all of the land necessary for the esplanade expansion.

University administrators have also begun to purchase land on the southern end of campus for possible expansion, although they have given no indication as to what the properties will be used for.

Contact Katie Nix at [email protected].