Development downtown moves businesses

Natalie Pillsbury

Wayne Demmer has been involved in the business of Kent Hardware since the 1960s.

“We’ve traced the existence of this business back to 1884,” said Demmer, president of Kent Hardware. “But it may go back farther than that.”

Kent Hardware, located on Water Street in downtown Kent, will move to the Commercial Press building at 115 S. Depeyster St. this month as part of a downtown development plan.

“It’s a little bit smaller, but it suits our needs,” Demmer said. “We wanted to stay in business and stay in the downtown area.”

Kent Hardware is a staple of the downtown area and the Kent Village developers, Right Dimensions, were required to find another location in the immediate downtown area for the hardware store, said Charley Bowman, director of community development.

When the plans for the Kent Village development were announced, the community was concerned with what would happen to Kent Hardware, Bowman said, but reaction to the move has been positive.

Right Dimensions purchased the Commercial Press building, demolished the inside and updated the electric to meet the store’s needs, Bowman said.

“Commercial Press was a different nature of business,” Demmer said. “A lot had to be cleaned out and built back up.”

When Kent Hardware moves, they will essentially trade ownership of the current location for ownership of the Commercial Press building, Demmer said.

Kent Hardware is moving to make way for a complete renovation of the downtown area.

“The development requires that all property be demolished and replaced from Erie Street to Haymaker Parkway and from Water to Depeyster Street,” Bowman said.

The new Kent Village will accommodate 30 to 40 thousand square feet each of retail, office and condominium space, said Bowman.

“They (Right Dimensions) are required to leave the architecture to match the original downtown.” Bowman said.

Kent Village will feature retailers, including clothing stores, sporting goods stores and restaurants, which appeal to the 15 to early 20s age range, Bowman said.

The development could create 150 to 200 new jobs, Bowman said. Demmer was happy to help.

“We (Kent Hardware) offer a lot of goods and services that are helpful to the community,” Demmer said. “We wanted to find a way to participate. If this benefits us and the city, then everybody wins.”

Contact public affairs reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].