Downtown Kent to get facelift

Adria Barbour

Downtown Kent is planning a makeover over which will include office, residential and retail spaces.

But this project is still in conceptual phases.

Right Dimensions, a development firm from California, is in its planning stages of redeveloping and renovating downtown Kent.

For the past year Right Dimensions has been acquiring the property along a commercial block, which includes Erie, South Depeyster and South Water streets, City Manager Dave Ruller said.

The first and completed phase of this project was acquiring land in this block.

The next phase includes preparing financial development agreements between the firm and the city, Ruller said.

There has been talk of using an economic development tool, Tax Increment Financing, which defers the taxes generated from improvements to a property until the structure is completed.

Ruller said there is talk about using this tool to finance a proposed underground parking garage.

“The developers said the plans would cost in the neighborhood of $40 million,” Ruller said. “All this will take place over about the next nine months.”

While the city’s plan for this development is near completion, there are still issues that need to be resolved.

Right Dimensions’ development plans have not yet been submitted to the city planning commission, said Gary Locke, plans administrator for the Kent Community Development Department.

They are still in their formative stages because there are concerns about parking, drainage and fitting the architecture into the proposed space, Locke said.

Ruller said the development firm has to talk to prospective tenants who will rent the properties that will be created by the proposed development.

The developers are looking at building a brick structure that will be about two- to three-stories tall, Ruller said. There is supposed to be a large courtyard in addition to a underground parking garage.

“Everything is still extremely conceptual,” Ruller said. “This is what the construction might look like. None of this is anywhere near completed.”

Locke said the new plans are a good idea for various reasons.

People who work in the city will generate income tax, and this creates revenue for the city, Locke said.

The new developments will also bring in more people and business to Kent, Locke said. People might come to see the new structures, which may tempt them to see the pre-existing stores Kent has to offer.

Contact public affairs reporter Adria Barbour at [email protected].