‘A Vision of a Village’: Kent State, Kent representatives hold public meeting for intergenerational housing project

An overview of the site of the proposed intergenerational village project shown to attendees of the Vision of a Village community meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. 

Emma Andrus Reporter

Representatives from Kent State and the city of Kent hosted a public information session for a proposed intergenerational housing project Wednesday evening. 

The proposed project would be a community of housing for married students, students and families and would be located to the south of Kent State’s Recreation and Wellness Center. It differs in that it would not be considered a traditional student housing option. 

While Kent State owns the land, it is seeking a developer to head the design and “realize the vision” for housing on the site. In a partnership between the university and the city of Kent, they established a steering committee in December 2020 to guide the project and search for a developer. 

Committee members in attendance were Doug Pearson, project manager and associate vice president for Facilities, Planning and Operations at Kent State; Bridget Susel, community development director for the city of Kent; and Terry Schwarz, director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

“Could be a pretty significant housing development, possibly as many as 1,000 residents,” Schwarz said, “a project that ideally, will be something that is intergenerational in nature, that takes advantage of this location. Being in an established community and also right next to the university.”

Goals for the project include developing a space that is positive for the natural environment, fills a need and is positive for economic development, Schwarz said.

The project dates back as early as 2016, Pearson said, when Kent State hired SmithGroupJJR to head and develop a master plan. In March of 2018, when the Kent State Board of Trustees adopted the Gateway Master Plan, it contained a section related to development on the Allerton site. In April 2021, the steering committee issued a public survey and in March 2021, they held three public workshops related to the project.

During the Q&A portion of the event, attendees expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of a project of this scale and worries that community members wouldn’t have a say in the process.

“We don’t even have a developer yet or any idea of what the development will actually look like,” Schwarz said. “But the thought is that whatever unfolds on this site will come about through ample opportunities for people in the community to weigh in and add their own ideas to it.”

The university issued a request for developers in September and held a pre-bid conference with potential respondents earlier in October. Developers interested in the project are expected to submit responses by Nov. 5 at 4:30 p.m.

“We will get the submittals down to two finalists, and those two finalists will be paid a $50,000 stipend to each of them to prepare detailed proposals for the project,” Pearson said. “One finalist will be chosen from those proposals, and negotiations for a land lease will begin. The selected finalist will have to be approved by the Kent State Board of Trustees. Best case, a lease agreement goes to Kent State Board of Trustees in March of 2022.” 

Pearson said he would commit to holding an additional public meeting following the Nov. 5 deadline for developers to indicate their interest in the project. While the date of the meeting has not yet been determined, Pearson said the months of November and December are a possibility. 

Emma Andrus is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].