Sunday, September 26, 2010

Changes in Kent

The changes are abounding in Kent right now.  The new Fairchild Avenue bridge is still under construction and I've gotten used to the crazy detours I have to take every day just to go south.  At the intersection of Fairchild and North Mantua, a new Sheetz station is also under construction.  It's supposed to be done later this year, though, it will be tough if it's finished before Fairchild is set to reopen sometime in January.  I can say even with the mess of construction it's already looking better than it has been for the last several years.  Outside the McKay-Bricker Framing building, everything else was run-down and looked terrible.  I was not sad to see any of it go besides the McKay building, which I was very sad to see torn down.

There are some other smaller changes going on along Haymaker Parkway (State Route 59, aka "the bypass").  All of the street lights are being replaced as is the protective fencing on the main bridge.  The fencing was removed earlier this week and I think it looks pretty good without the fencing, though the bridge itself is pretty bland (a typical boring highway bridge).  The new fencing will be black so won't be as obvious.

The biggest changes downtown are just beginning.  On Friday, the first building was torn down in the area that is set to be developed.  If any of you remember the buidling with the yellow zig-zag front roof that was a liquor store and also home of Spellbinders, it was the first to go.  I went downtown today and took some pictures before any of the other buildings are torn down, and let me just say: I really won't miss ANY of the buildings getting torn down.  That entire block is in horrible shape (including the roads), so I welcome the demolition of the rest of the buildings.  The only building that is in any kind of decent shape is the old Kent Hardware building.  I suppose if they saved any building it would be that one, but the cost of adding on and renovating it would outweigh simply tearing it down and starting fresh.   Here are the pictures of downtown now and some of what will replace them in the next 24 months or so.  Downtown is going to be very different in a short time, and hopefully MUCH better.  I'm really excited to see this all happen!
South Water Street with the rubble of the old Spellbinders building visible.  
This is the expected view from Water Street of the new development.  The image comes from Dave Ruller's blog post "Kent Downtown Redevelopment Update..." on September 13th.
Old Record-Courier office that has been closed since the end of 2008.  I doubt this building has changed much at all since the 1950s.  At this point, the new conference center will be built here, though recently the plans seemed to shift to combine the hotel and conference center into one building here.  If that ends up being the case, there will soon be an 8-story building here!
Looking east down East Erie Street, where the new Kent Central Gateway will be built (see below) 
The intersection of East Erie and South DePeyster streets.  This will be developed into a 3 and 4-story complex with offices, retail, and residential space and the road will be completely rebuilt.  
This is the planned view of the new development from Erie Street.  Looks a lot better, huh?  This also comes from Dave Ruller's blog
Looking north up South DePeyster Street.  The new hotel was originally supposed to be on the left side, but as I said above, it's looking like it will be on the opposite side of the street.  All the buildings in this picture except the looming old hotel building at the top of the hill will be torn down for two separate developments.
The back of Acorn Alley, which opened last year.  After the development behind this picture gets going, the developer of Acorn Alley will begin extending it down to Erie Street and building additional 3-story buildings along Erie.  Note the old hotel looming above.  As much as I'd love to see it redeveloped, it's become Kent's albatross.  It's so big and obvious that it will put a literal and figurative shadow over all the new development as long as it's there.
Drawing of the Acorn Alley extension from Dave Ruller's blog.
House on East Erie Street I barely even noticed before!  It's between the former "The Barn" bar (which had a variety of names over the years) and the old Kent Hardware
Dead end of East Erie Street where it meets Haymaker Parkway.  The new Kent Central Gateway will be built in the empty lot and the road will be connected to Haymaker.
This is the view once the new Kent Central Gateway is built from pretty much the same location as the previous picture.  Not sure I like that thing in the foreground, though.  ?????  This comes from PARTA's website for the project, Kent Central Gateway.

Definitely a lot of changes already underway with more to come.  We still haven't heard about the new municipal court building planned by the county, plus there's always the hope the old hotel will finally get redeveloped or torn down and the potential for additional development as a result of all of this.

For more info also see: 

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