City may own old Kent hotel by week’s end

Lydia Coutré & Kelly Tunney

KentWired Video

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The closing date is set for Friday for the City of Kent to purchase the unused property that rests on the corner of Main and DePeyster streets, said City Manager Dave Ruller.

In a meeting that took fewer than 10 minutes, City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize a purchase agreement to buy the old Kent hotel from current owner Gregg Vilk of Vilco LLC. Council appropriated up to $735,000, as they said they planned to when the idea was announced last week.

“I never thought I’d see the day when I’d vote to give this amount of money for that real estate,” said councilman John Kuhar. “But I talked to a lot of people, and I guess everybody feels the same way. We need to get moving on it and get this behind us. And I guess this is one step in that direction.”

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Jim Silver, law director for the City of Kent, said he will take the offer to the city’s insurance attorney Wednesday morning.

Ruller said this is moving “remarkably fast.”

“But I hope that speaks to both party’s interest to see this resolved as quickly as possible and to move on,” Ruller said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll finish that and get the deal done Friday. And if not, I think we’re at a point where the deals going to happen.”

He said apart from any unforeseen circumstances, the city should own the building soon and be looking for “the next generation of ownership.”

Ruller added that they are not taking anything for granted.


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“It’s a two-party agreement, so at this point it’s in the current owner’s hands,” he said.

Reselling the property was always the plan, Ruller said. “We’re not in the real estate business.”

Ruller said the city will communicate with people who have talked to the current owner in the past but were unsuccessful in buying it.

“Without question, the council wants to see it restored, first and foremost,” Ruller said. “So I think our goal is finding somebody who is capable of restoring it, rather than tearing it down.”

He said once the real estate is in the city’s ownership, they will be able to talk “seriously” about the future of the hotel. The city will express their wishes for the property to the next buyer — either contractually or through discussions.

Ruller said he recognizes the project is financially challenging, and this will influence their sale price.

Although the purchase of the hotel is on a fast track, it will be a while before residents see any changes. Beyond finding a new buyer, Ruller said restoration of the exterior alone is about a 12-month process.

“It’s no small endeavor,” he said. “It’s probably realistically an 18 to 24 month project before it could really be in a functional use. So it’s not immediate, but I think people seeing progress will be the key.”

The Kent community reacts

Melissa Svonavec

Melissa Svonavec, 33, of Kent

“I think it’s fantastic ‘cause I’ve lived in Kent since 1997, and it’s kind of been an eyesore since then … It’ll bring more traffic downtown, especially with Acorn Alley shopping, and it will do great for homeowners in the area and business owners downtown.”

Janet Hallaran, 44, of Kent

“We’d love to see it to be developed into something. We just would hate for it to just sit empty for another 20, 30 years. Do something with it.”

Bob Mayfield, co-owner of McKay Bricker Framing on Main Street

“I think for the city to buy it is probably the only economic viable way to get it developed … It’s very important to the city because that’s one of the prime corners in Kent, and it’s highly visible. It’s a nice old building really, but for right now it’s a big eyesore … It’s probably the number one question we get asked from people coming in here from out of town: ‘What’s going on with that hotel?’”

Kelsey Ferguson

Senior fashion merchandising major and employee at Figleaf on Main Street

“It doesn’t even have to be shops, it could be someone like a law firm or anything.

I think Kent’s trying to turn around the way the city looks and the money flow and everything and they’ve done a really good job by renovating Acorn Alley and now with Acorn Alley II I think that will bring in more money as well and right now the hotel is kind of an eyesore, and it takes up a lot of unused space.”

David Sears

David Sears, 43, of Kent

“First reaction, I am a little bitter that the current owner is able to sit on the property and do nothing with it until the city has no choice but to buy it, but I think that doing something with that property is beneficial. I mean if they keep on with what they’re doing with the Acorn Alley I and II and keep it along those same themes, I think that would be beneficial.”

Michael Fiala

Michael Fiala

Executive chef at Schwebel Room in the Student Center and Mayor Jerry Fiala’s nephew

“I think it’s in the city of Kent’s best interest to take care of its downtown and that’s kind of been a thorn in their back, as they say, for 30 years … Something that just adds vitality to the area would be good.”

Amber Luzzo

Freshman anthropology major

“I’ve lived in Kent my entire life, so it’s kind of been part of my life. They’ve torn down so many of the old historical buildings already, I’d rather them keep it there and they could restore it possibly.”

Contact Lydia Coutré and [email protected] and [email protected].