Phase two of Acorn Alley to be complete by fall

Jacqueline McLean

The Acorn Alley Phase II addition will be the first of many new developments in downtown Kent.

A year and a half after Acorn Alley opened, plans for downtown construction are continuing.

Since the creation of Acorn Alley, local entrepreneur and philanthropist Ron Burbick has thought about expanding the project. The addition will include three new buildings on Erie Street that will be connected to Acorn Alley by a cross alley. The buildings will include several restaurants and small shops. A Wild Earth Outfitters and coffee shop will be added as well.

“It will give students much more of a reason to come downtown other than going into a bar or having a tattoo put on,” Burbick said. “We have a number of student-run businesses in the whole Acorn Alley facility.”

“We’re trying to partner as much as we can with groups from the university to truly make it a community and university wide adventure.”

Burbick is also adding luxury condominiums to the top floor of each building. He does not expect the condominiums to be ready until fall 2011.

As a result of the development of Acorn Alley II, South Depeyster Street and West Erie Street will be closed until the expected finish date of July 1.

Keeping the creation of Acorn Alley local, Burbick has been working with architect Doug Fuller and the Fuller Design Group since the beginning of the project. Burbick said phase one of Acorn Alley cost him about $7 million to create while phase two will cost him between $5 to $6 million.

Phase two of Acorn Alley is not the only new development being created in downtown Kent. Several new developments are expected to raise Kent’s economy and provide a number of new jobs.

Daniel Smith, the Economic Development Director, said the completion of phase two will lead up to the creation of double-sided retail shops on both sides of Erie Street. These developments will not be completed until Fall 2012 and will cost the city about $80 million of public and privately funded money.

In addition, the Kent Central Gateway will be built. This multimodal transit facility will include about 350 parking spaces and a bus terminal transfer station to Akron, Cleveland and other nearby cities. Kent received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project.

“In the fall of 2012, we will have a totally revitalized and reenergized downtown on top of the hundreds of construction jobs,” Smith said. “We think there will be about 500 to 600 permanent jobs located in the central business district when it’s all said and done.”

Contact Jacqueline McLean at [email protected].