City offers $735,000 for old Kent hotel

Kelly Tunney

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The old Kent hotel may be included in the city’s downtown property in the near future.

City Council approved an offer of $735,000 for the city to buy the hotel after a closed-door executive meeting Wednesday night. Also approved was an allowance for up to $25,000 worth of closing costs.

Council then planned a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in council chambers to further discuss the acquisition.

Jim Silver, law director for the City of Kent, said the special meeting Tuesday will be used to officially enter into a purchase agreement.

“They will actually do a formal ordinance and vote on it,” Smith said. “Then we’ll try to close the whole thing as quickly as possible through the title company.”

Heidi Shaffer, councilwoman for Ward 5, which includes downtown, said the offer was a necessary step with all of the other development downtown.

“Obviously something needed to be done, as far as some kind of catalyst to put the property back into productive use,” Shaffer said. “The condition of it does detract from all of the new construction that’s happening downtown.”

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The historic hotel, which stands at the corner of South Depeyster and East Main Street, first opened in 1920.

Gregg Vilk of Vilco LLC, current owner of the property, has been involved in several lawsuits with the city over the property since he acquired it in 2004.

Shaffer said buying the property was not the city’s ideal solution for the vacant building.

“Certainly we had hoped that we wouldn’t have to, we hoped that a private party would be able to purchase it, or that Mr. Vilk would be able to put it into productive use or that a private party would be able to do that,” she said. “We’re sort of the entity of last resort in this case.”

Vilk was not available for comment.

Silver said when the purchasing deal is settled, the lawsuits between the city and Vilk will be dismissed.

Shaffer said she was satisfied to finally agree upon negotiations between the parties and anxious to close the deal.

“It has been an area of frustration for the council people and for myself because most conversations I’ve had with people about the downtown, people say, ‘Oh it’s great, all this new development, but what about the old hotel?’” she said. “So now it looks like we can finally answer that question.”

Contact Kelley Tunney at [email protected].