University breaks ground for hotel development

Amber Wade


Representatives from the city of Kent, Kent State University and the Pizzuti Companies broke ground for Kent State’s hotel and conference center Monday Morning at the site between Haymaker Parkway and South DePeyster Street.

The $15 million project is expected to be wrapped up by Spring 2013, though according to Ron Pizzuti, chairman and CEO of the Pizzuti Companies, he’d like to see the work finished sooner. The Pizzuti Companies are handling the project.

Pizzuti estimated that this project was approximately 22 years in the making since he was a trustee at the university at the time. He continued that the city has been missing a place for people to conveniently stay.

City manager Dave Ruller echoed the necessity for a place for visitors to stay, particularly parents of students. “When you’ve got so many students that come through here every semester, [it‘s a question of] ‘Where do the parents stay?’”

President Lester Lefton emphasized that while the hotel was an important part, the project was just one aspect of further connecting the university with downtown Kent.

“The hotel and conference center is a cornerstone of the downtown development project. I know that Mr. [Randy] Ruttenberge [of Fairmount Properties] thinks that the retail space is the cornerstone of this project, and I know the PARTA officials over here know that the parking facility is the cornerstone of this project. They’re all cornerstones.”

Ruller also anticipates that the new hotel will bring new businesses to the area as well as be a benefit businesses already in the community.

“It certainly brings new revenue. It certainly helps support the local businesses. That is without question. It’s really kind of creating the atmosphere,” says Ruller “It’s not so much the immediate revenue that it’s creating, but it creates the kind of place that people are going to want to be in and new businesses will be attracted to that.”

Jeff Folkman at the Ohio Music Shop said he is definitely looking forward to the new hotel. “We are looking forward to the new hotel. It think it will be a great asset, certainly to our store. When we got this particular store it had the front door and it came with a back door, but it’s always just been a back parking lot. Now all of a sudden it’s going to be businesses and we’re looking forward to that.”

Ruller said though, that beyond the tangible and immediate benefits of the hotel, he feels that there are other aspects of it that are more important. “It supports what’s here, but what we really think its capacity to generate a lot more is probably, in the long run, going to be the biggest payoff.”

It was previously announced that the hotel would be independent of a brand name as the University Foundation opted not to partner with a franchise.