Video by Loren Thomas
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Representatives from the City of Kent, Kent State and the Pizzuti Companies broke ground for the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center Monday morning at the site between Haymaker Parkway and South Depeyster Street.
The $15 million project is expected to be finished by spring 2013. Ron Pizzuti, chairman and CEO of the Pizzuti Companies, said he’d like to see the work finished even sooner.
The hotel should boast approximately 100 suite-style rooms and the conference center should accommodate about 300 people, said President Lester Lefton in previous statements.
Dave Ruller, city manager, said the hotel is a necessity for expanding Kent’s downtown and accommodating the university’s needs.
“When you’ve got so many students that come through here every semester, (it‘s a question of) ‘Where do the parents stay?’”
Lefton said that while the hotel is important, it is just one aspect of further connecting the university with downtown Kent.
“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,” Lefton said.
Ruller said he also anticipates the new hotel will bring new businesses to the area and benefit businesses already in the community.
“It’s not so much the immediate revenue that it’s creating,” he said. “But it creates the kind of place that people are going to want to be in and new businesses will be attracted to.”
Jeff Folkman at the Ohio Music Shop said he is looking forward to the new hotel.
“I think it will be a great asset, certainly to our store,” Folkman said. “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.”
Contact Amber Wade at [email protected]