Momentum builds for Phoenix Project

Caitlyn Wachovec

Financier has other plans in progress but won’t disclose them

Phases two and three of the Phoenix Project are progressing quickly and students will see downtown Kent with a fresh new face when they return in the fall.

The target date for the project’s completion is August. The final product will include 13 shops and businesses and a few surprises, too.

Ron Burbick, who financed the project himself, said it will include the current building and a new one connected by Acorn Alley. He said there are a few plans in progress he doesn’t want to give away just yet.

Acorn Alley will house shops like Rehab, a vintage store, and a toy and game store. It will also include a Pita Pit and Uniquely Yours Boutique.

Next to an ice cream shop and Jason’s Barber Shop, Burbick said the alley will also have a food court common area, which will be Wi-Fi accessible.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for Kent State students and residents to be together downtown,” Economic Development Director Dan Smith said.

Two spots have been purchased by the university. One will be a snack shop, and the other has sparked a contest to decide exactly what it will be. Kent State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation is holding a retail competition for the remaining space.

Kent State’s presence will also be on the second floor of the new building. Spaces on the first floor are sold out, but Kent State’s College of Communication and Information has the entire second floor.

Smith said he couldn’t be happier.

“We are extremely pleased that Kent State is expanding into downtown,” he said.

Smith has high hopes for the project and how it will transform downtown. He credits Burbick with kick-starting Kent’s progress.

“Burbick has tipped the first domino,” Smith said. “The city skyline will change more in the next few months than it has in the last four or five decades.”

Contact public affairs reporter Caitlyn Wachovec at [email protected].