Plaza approved for the new Acorn Alley II

Rendering provided by Douglas Fuller, architect of Acorn Alley II.

Rendering provided by Douglas Fuller, architect of Acorn Alley II.

Simon Husted

The Kent Planning Commission approved the building of a plaza between the Acorn Alley I and Acorn Alley II facades, taking the new development a step closer to completion.

The plaza — which will feature a garden, bicycle racks and 14 parking spaces — was approved by the board 3-to-0, with two planning commissioners absent. Although the plaza was approved without any comments from the public, a few planning commissioners shared their concern about the inconvenient parking situation people who reside in Acorn Alley II will encounter.

“People like to have a car where they live,” Planning Commissioner John Gargen Jr. said during the meeting, adding beforehand that he favors the project as a whole.

Doug Fuller, the project’s architect, said the plan is to build condominiums on the top floors of the Acorn Alley II additions, but that plan will only move forward if there’s enough market demand. There’s been some interest in the condominiums, Fuller said, but no buyer has stepped forth with concrete plans to purchase anything yet.

“I want to maintain flexibility for Mr. Burbick (the developer behind Acorn Alley) that if the market isn’t ready yet for condominiums in downtown Kent, it is designed from a code standpoint that (the top floors) also can be office space,” Fuller told the planning commissioners.

Although the plaza and the five additional parking spaces near the original Acorn Alley façade won’t be enough to accommodate residents, Fuller pointed out the advantage of having the multimodal center built across Depeyster Street. The center will have 360 parking spaces that people can pay to use.

During the meeting, Fuller told the planning commissioners that Kent is caught in an interesting transition from a “small city acting like a suburban place where we have to park in front of our establishment” to a bigger city with public parking and multimodal transportation.

Once the meeting was adjourned, Fuller said there may be some concerns from residents about paying for parking near their homes.

“There may be some resistance to pay parking in the beginning,” said Fuller, “but I think in the long-run we’ll embrace it because what we got here is a product people will come and use.”

Also attending the Kent City Planning Commission business meeting was Steve Brandle, vice president of construction at Metis Construction Services and the official managing the construction at Acorn Alley II. After the meeting, Brandle verified the newly approved plaza is where Acorn Alley II expects to host a beer garden during the Kent Heritage Festival July 2. Popped!, the gourmet popcorn shop scheduled to open when Acorn Alley II is finished, plans to also make a debut during the Kent Heritage Festival.

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