Major facelift for downtown Kent planned

Kyle Reynolds

A downtown renovation three years in the making hopes to revitalize downtown Kent with more shopping and dining options.

Daniel Smith, economic development director for the city of Kent, said the renovation is expected to impact the city’s economy in three ways.

The first: the 400-500 jobs that will be created by the new businesses; the second: to increase the tax revenue for the city; and the third: to revitalize Kent by taking blighted parts of town and creating new opportunities there.

The renovation will be primarily within the confines of Erie, Water, Depeyster streets and Haymaker Parkway.

Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties is the developer of three of the five properties, which will include retail and office space, including shopping and dining destinations.

When the renovation is done, the location of these facilities will make it a great front door for the university and will bring excitement to downtown Kent, said Randy Ruttenberg, principal for Fairmount Properties.

“When completed it will total approximately 160,000 square feet of mixed use retail, restaurant, office and residential space set within three separate and architecturally distinct buildings,” Ruttenberg said.

Demolition of the current properties in the renovation area is set for mid-September and the site will be turned over to Fairmount Properties in the second week of November with construction starting immediately after. Completion is expected in fall 2012.

Columbus-based Pizzuti is the developer of a 110-room hotel and a conference center located across the street from one another.

The hotel is expected to be of three-star or higher quality, said Don Wheat, vice president for public/private projects for Pizzuti.

“It is planned to have meeting rooms, an indoor pool, fitness center, business center, a great room, sun room, lounge, a small food service area and a bar/café,” Wheat said.

The hotel will be six-stories high and span more than 75,000 square feet. Wheat said construction on the hotel and conference center is expected to begin in the spring of 2011 and completion is expected in late summer of 2012.

The university has some land where the renovations will take place and has put in $3 million to become an equity partner in the hotel, Smith said.

The project is self-financing and creates a revenue stream at the same time, said Smith.

“We currently have $2.5 million in land acquisitions and pre-development costs and we will take out bonds for $7.5 million to do the remainder of the improvements,” Smith said. “That is basically being paid through a tax incremental financing with the school system, so the revenues from the new property taxes that will be created will be redirected to pay off the financing bonds we will take out for the improvements.”

Contact general assignment reporter Kyle Reynolds at [email protected].