Congressman Tim Ryan
Announces $20 Million Grant
Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio announced that the Kent Central Gateway project in Kent, Ohio, has received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Ryan delivered the exciting news to a roomful of officials from the City of Kent, Kent State University and PARTA (Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority) who lobbied together for the transportation facility for several years. The project serves as a catalyst for the revitalization and redevelopment of downtown Kent and reconnects the central business district with the Kent State campus. The $20-million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for the Kent Central Gateway alone accounts for the majority of grants awarded to the state of Ohio. In total, the state is receiving $50-million in TIGER grants.“The TIGER grant has been very, very competitive,” Ryan said. “We wanted to advocate projects that will transform communities and offer long-term economic growth. We feel this project is transformational, and we advocated strongly for the Kent Central Gateway project.”
“The multimodal transportation facility combines elements of buses, pedestrians, bicycles and cars,” explained John Drew, general manager of PARTA. “It will serve as a transfer point that allows bus transport to Akron, Cleveland and all points in Portage County. It is part of the downtown development plan and will be located at Erie and Depeyster streets with a curb cut into Haymaker Parkway.”
Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said Kent Central Gateway fulfills the economic promise of what a university city is capable of. “What we are able to do now is finish what was started when this vision was born eight years ago,” Ruller said. “Congressman Ryan helped us to get earmarks to prepare us to get to this point. This award is the tipping point for all the projects planned to revitalize Kent. This will stimulate $60-million worth of new investment in Kent, both public and private.”
“This is a once-in-a-150-year event,” Kent State President Lester A. Lefton said. “This sets into motion all of the other development projects planned for downtown Kent, like the proposed hotel and conference center. The Kent Central Gateway project provides public access and parking. This is a team collaboration with PARTA, the city and Kent State University, and the support of Congressman Ryan has been crucial. This is a huge, transformative event in the life of Kent, the university and Portage County.”
The project includes the construction of a new bus transfer facility in downtown Kent with parking spaces to support planned development. The facility will include commercial space and bicycle storage to improve transit accessibility in Kent and linkages to Cleveland and Akron. The Kent Central Gateway improves connections between city neighborhoods, Kent State University and downtown Kent. The project also expands travel options and connects multiple modes of transportation.
“It will be a green facility with a solar roof and geothermal heating,” Ruller said. “It will have the latest green technology built into it. It will become a signature facility in downtown Kent.”
The economic impact of the project includes $105 million total in public and private development, 266 construction jobs, 703 new long-term jobs, $5.8 million in annual tax revenue and creating lasting “halo effect” for existing businesses and the university.
“Having been born and raised in Kent, Ohio, this has been the most exciting thing to happen in Portage County in my lifetime,” Drew said.