New renovations connect campus, Kent community

Pizzuti Companies hopes to complete Kent’s new hotel and conference center by Fall 2012. The hotel will have 95 rooms and seat 300 people.

Pizzuti Companies hopes to complete Kent’s new hotel and conference center by Fall 2012. The hotel will have 95 rooms and seat 300 people.

SImon Husted

Students who plan to make Kent their home for another year can expect a lot of changes to the city and campus.

Here are some of the changes students can expect in Fall 2012:

More off-campus student housing

Student housing was so limited this year that 100 students were temporarily moved to lounge rooms, and almost every nearby apartment complex was leased out or on waiting lists by the time summer rolled around.

Next year, that may change. Three student housing projects are underway off campus.

• Hallmark Campus Communities, a Columbus-based developer, is demolishing Sunrise Town House Apartments, which housed 196 beds, to build a new 615-bed apartment complex on Rhodes Road near College Towers.

• Edwards Communities Development Co., another Columbus-based developer, is erecting seven new cottages for its 596-bed housing complex between South Lincoln Street and Morris Road.

• Capstone Development Corp., a Birmingham, Ala., based developer is renovating down Silver Oaks Place, currently a housing complex for residents 55 and older, and building a 520-bed complex for students.

All three projects are scheduled to be completed by Fall 2012, and together they offer 1,535 more beds to Kent State students, which represents a little more than the enrollment growth between Fall 2008 and Fall 2010.

To put things in a better perspective, the projects from Hallmark, Edwards and Capstone can house every student now living in Twin Towers, Eastway Center and Korb Hall.

Michael Bruder, director at the office of the University Architect, said Kent State officials have no plans to build a new residence hall on campus.

“We also have to look at what the market does,” Bruder said. “If another 800 beds come online off-campus, then we don’t want to build a building and not be able to fill it.”

A more vibrant downtown

Acorn Alley and the recently erected Acorn Alley II have spawned a new look for Kent’s downtown, offering creative local restaurants and stores for students and visitors to shop and eat.

When Fall 2012 comes around, the entire corridor between Haymaker Parkway and East Main, South Depeyster and South Water streets will be composed almost entirely of renovated buildings or structures that never existed before Spring 2011.

Fairmount Properties, a Cleveland-based developer, expects its three-story, mixed-use structure comprised of three parts to be finished before the Fall 2012 semester. It will be home to Davey Tree and AMETEK operations, as well as a dozen small businesses including a Lebanese restaurant, a clothing boutique, a wrap and smoothie shop and a Mexican restaurant.

Columbus-based developer Pizzuti Companies expects to complete Kent State University’s hotel and conference center by September or October 2012. The hotel will come with 95 rooms and the conference center will seat 300 people.

Students may have to wait until next semester to visit the Kent Central Gateway. PARTA expects to finish the $26 million parking garage with 300 parking spaces, 10 bus bays and 20,000 square feet of retail space near the end of 2012.

Greater connection between downtown and campus

Hate bikers? Expect to see more of them in Fall 2012.

Next year, biking may be the best travel method between downtown and campus. It’ll avoid the pay-to-park spaces at PARTA’s Kent Central Gateway. PARTA hasn’t announced the price, but whatever it is, it’ll force visitors and downtown employees to fight for other parking spaces available downtown — that is, if those remain free.

“There has been discussion about putting in parking meters in certain areas to regulate parking, especially with the new downtown developments, but nothing is definite,” Gary Locke, director of community development for Kent, told the Summer Kent Stater in July.

Michael Bruder expects the University Esplanade extension to encourage more pedestrian traffic as well.

“We’re hoping to reconnect (with the city) in a more tangible way so it becomes very pedestrian focused,” Bruder said.

The University Esplanade extension is anticipated to be completed by Fall 2012, and with the help of a traffic light at Haymaker Parkway, it will connect Kent State’s hotel and conference center with the northbound edge of Franklin Hall.

Contact Summer Kent Stater reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].