Downtown demolition underway

Kate Sheafer

Building endings pave way for new beginnings

Mangled steel, wooden planks and giant holes have replaced the Rock Café and Our Father’s House Family Church, marking the first building demolitions of Kent’s downtown revitalization project.

Workers began the project’s first phase on Friday by knocking down the familiar buildings on South Water Street, paving the way for a new downtown.

“There’s an incredible amount of excitement generated out in the community,” Dan Smith, Kent economic development director said. “With the demolitions, you really get a sense of the magnitude of this project.”

While dump trucks haul the remaining debris from the first buildings, crews will continue to prepare the remaining five structures for demolition.

“Over the next few days, you’re probably not going to notice anything massive,” Kent Senior Engineer Rhonda Boyd said. “They’re trying to get all of the asbestos abated and all of the universal waste.”

Once the buildings are stripped of recyclable materials, electrical fixtures and chemicals, they will be ready for teardown. Boyd said The Bar’n on Depeyster Street has already met these requirements and will be the next to fall, likely by the end of this week.

“It’s a pretty big building with a concrete floor,” Project Superintendent Kevin McCulley said. “We estimate it will probably come down within three or four days.”

Crews haven’t run into any major problems at this point in the project.

“Everything is going according to plan,” McCulley said. “I don’t foresee any problems. The city of Kent is great to work with, and so far, we’re working together pretty well.”

After the demolitions are complete, workers will clear and level the site for the next phase of renovation.

“The next target date is to turn the property site over in the second or third week of November so (Fairmount Properties) can get in there and start doing some work,” Smith said. “It is conceivable that they could take over a portion of the property before all of the demolition work is done.”

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