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Downtown Kent Revitalization Project Wins Best Project Award

Posted Dec. 3, 2012 | Mady Etzel and Nicole Winkleman
enter photo description
Pictured above are Kent State University President
Lester A. Lefton
and Kent City Manager Dave Ruller
during a town-gown partnership event.

The city of Kent's downtown redevelopment efforts earned the Best Project Award for 2012 from the Ohio Economic Development Association.

The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual excellence awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations throughout Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development.

The statewide award recognizes the $106 million public and private investment in redeveloping a large section of downtown Kent. So far, this project has produced more than 950 construction jobs and 700 new jobs in the city’s downtown district. The redevelopment of downtown Kent promised to be transformational, as Kent State University officials, city administrators, the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) and its partners have collaborated to make the city of Kent an excellent place to live, work, study and visit.

The downtown Kent redevelopment project includes:

  • The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, which is scheduled to open June 2013. The hotel will have 94 guestrooms, and the conference center can accommodate up to 300 people. The hotel and conference center is a partnership between the Kent State University Foundation and the Pizzuti Companies of Columbus, Ohio.
  • PARTA’s new Kent Central Gateway Multimodal Facility, which will rise across from the new hotel and be located at Erie and Depeyster streets and accommodate buses, pedestrians, bicycles and cars.
  • Acorn Alley and its second phase, Acorn Alley II, a retail office space development created by Kent resident and business leader Ron Burbick of RLB Phoenix Properties.
  • College Town Kent, a pedestrian-oriented shopping office and lifestyle center developed by Fairmount Properties and its partners Premier Development Partners LLC and BUD Kent LLC. The185,000-square-foot development includes the new AMETEK and Davey Tree buildings.
  • The extension of the Kent State University Esplanade that will strengthen the ties between the university and the city by providing a physical link, providing students with a safe pathway to visit, enjoy and patronize downtown Kent and its businesses, as well as connecting residents and visitors to the Kent Campus. The new building for Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design will be located along the University Esplanade extension.

During the Fall 2011 Bowman Breakfast, Kent State President Lester A. Lefton said the redevelopment efforts are a “recruitment strategy, a retention strategy and a part of what great universities do.”

“We are trying to create a pedestrian-oriented, people-scaled sense of place,” Lefton said during the Bowman Breakfast. “Place matters, and Kent is going to be a place that matters. The linkage of the university to the downtown project through the University Esplanade is going to be very important to this.”

For more information about the Ohio Economic Development Association, visit www.ohioeda.com.