City expects KSU’s help with hotel

Jeff Russ

Kent City Council said Kent State will not “just be a cheerleader” in getting a proposed hotel and conference center downtown.

In last night’s meeting, city economic developer Dan Smith said while it is too early to talk numbers, the city is expecting Kent State to contribute money to the project – in the form of state funding or donations.

Kent State owns five lots on the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street on the edge of the proposed Fairmount project. The lots have been discussed as a possible location of the hotel.

The statements of council echo that of Kent State president Lester Lefton, who in a meeting with top editors from student media last Friday said the university and the city are closer than ever to making this hotel a reality.

“We’ve tried and tried for years to get this project,” Kent city manager Dave Ruller said. “This is a strong signal that this is go.”

City officials denied a renewal agreement in June 2006 with real estate developers Right Dimensions regarding the same area. After years of talking about the issue, some on council said last night’s meeting was an important step.

“People tell me this has been a problem for a long time,” Ward 5 council member Heidi Shaffer said.

“I’m very hopeful that the university understands the need for this. It is critical that the university understands that the future of both it and the town are linked together.”

Ruller said that the city is continuing to talk with both the university and the county about the issue, and that it would not be unreasonable to get a hand on how the three parties will jointly share the costs of the project.

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].