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Kent Elastomer Wins State Gold Award...

In the spirit of Earth Day, the other good environmental news from Kent was Monday’s visit from the Ohio EPA Director who recognized Kent Elastomer as only the 2nd company in Ohio to achieve the highest levels of environmental performance and receive the Gold Level E3 Award from the State.

We don’t often have the time to hear all of the great work that is going on inside Kent’s businesses and this was a great example of the pioneering work being done right here in our hometown.

The Ohio EPA website notes that the gold level is designed to recognize businesses that exceed regulatory compliance obligations and commit to long-term strategies to reduce waste, lower emissions and improve environmental performance.  To qualify for the gold level, applicants must:

• Pass a comprehensive compliance check;

• Implement and maintain an environmental management system (EMS); and

• Commit to continuous environmental improvement.

Each gold-level participant completes an annual performance report that demonstrates its environmental accomplishments over the year, its continued high level of environmental performance, and its maintenance of the membership criteria.

I know the employees were very proud of their award (see photo) and we’re certainly proud to have them here in Kent, showcasing the highest levels of environmental stewardship.

20150420_111327In 2014, Kent Elastomer was one of six companies in Ohio to reach the silver award level.  Here’s a video clip that talks about how they got there.

2014 Silver Award Video


Happy Earth Day 2015...

Kent had a chance to celebrate the spirit of Earth Day a little early this year, hosting the Greentown Kent sustainability conference last week at the KSU hotel and conference center.

Greentown has developed a name for itself as a roving band of environmentally minded stewards that give like-minded individuals a chance to gather, share stories, and inspire each other.  That’s exactly what happened last week in downtown Kent.

The Greentown conference turned out to be a great way to bring together some of the leading community, government and business practitioners of sustainability from around the mid-West.


Spending a little time with my favorite Kent characters at Greentown Kent: Davey Tree and a Black Squirrel.

Not surprisingly Kent’s own Davey Tree featured prominently as a great example where preserving natural resources and practicing sustainability has evolved into a business plan that has made them an industry leader.

Representatives from Cleveland, Detroit, South Bend, Akron, Oberlin, and others spent 2 days with us to share best practices, leading edge thinking, and practical examples for how to ensure sustainability continues to be a part of our respective communities.

Since Kent was featured each day, it was a good time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished but also to re-energize our thinking about how we continue to move forward.  We have plenty of examples where we have implemented policies and programs that other cities are looking to model but we also saw plenty of opportunities to do more in Kent.

It’s great to have events like this in our backyard and I hope we can bring back more.   With 10 years, and a growing list of accomplishments under our community’s belt, there’s been a growing interest in revisiting the City’s sustainability goals contained in the Bicentennial Plan.  I’m hoping that we can use the energy coming out of this conference as spring board to give City Council and the community a chance to review and update those goals to better reflect the community’s current aspirations.

In the meantime, here’s a short video clip that the Record Courier took from the Greentown Conference that gives you a flavor for the Greentwon event and the credentials of the speakers.

Unfortunately for me, I was stuck inside giving a talk about downtown Kent’s revitalization when the “Bike and Brainstorm” portion of the program (complements of AMATS) got underway.  This was Kent’s second Bike and Brainstorm event where local bicyclists of all persuasions were invited to do a ride around town and give their feedback about how to make Kent more bike-able to cyclists of all skill levels and types of bikes.  They had a great turnout and here’s a sampling of the photo’s from that bike tour.



First Energy Trimming Trees...

We got word from First Energy that it’s time to cycle back through Kent (along with 100 other Ohio communities) to clear a safe zone around power distribution lines from overgrown tree branches and diseased trees which pose a risk to knocking out power.

Routine tree trimming around power lines is one of those thankless jobs that gets performed on a 4 year cycle by First Energy but unless there’s been some recent storm activity that caused power to go out, it can be painful to watch some of our favorite street trees receive the dreaded V-cuts or worse yet, get removed entirely.

Kent loves it’s trees so no matter how careful or sensitive the tree trimmers try to be, they’re messing with a beloved part of the community and that tends to raise the ire of folks around town.

But come storm time, when high winds are rattling windows and snapping limbs, those tree trimmers are unsung heroes who managed to stay a couple of steps ahead of mother nature so that when we needed power most, we had it.

After a storm event, tree trimming is an easy sell but as part of a routine maintenance program it can be harder to swallow.


Wind storm damage in Kent.

Trees are a high priority in Kent and we share the discomfort of watching the utility crews work their way across town around the power lines but we also take the calls when the power is knocked out and we send our City crews out after storms to help clear streets, yards and power lines as quickly as possible because power can be a matter of life safety.

Tree trimming is a lot like eating healthy and exercising.  We understand the importance but it’s still hard to do.  Please try to keep that in mind as First Energy works to keep us, and our trees, safe and healthy this summer with their annual tree trimming program.

Here’s the details from First Energy:


More Portage County Stats...

Apparently t’is the season for summarizing and publishing annual demographic data.

After sharing public health data for Portage County last week, this morning I received a comparison of Ohio’s 88 counties that went beyond public health to include jobs, salaries, and other demographic indicators for Portage County.

Portage County is so diverse demographically that it’s tough to draw too many conclusions from aggregate data.  The cities like Aurora, Streetsboro, Ravenna and Kent have made progress turning the economic tide but many of the smaller towns and villages and unincorporated areas of the County are still struggling.

The aggregate data tends to miss the nuances between the more urbanized and more rural sections of the County — filing off the highs and lows – but it’s still informative about the state of our County home.

PortageCoProfile2 PortageCoProfile1

City Housing Study...

At the end of 2014 we hired a firm that specializes in analyzing housing data to take a look at Kent’s housing market and develop a modified housing needs assessment for us.

The idea for the assessment came up when we started hearing conflicting observations about too much or too little housing for seniors, students, low income families, starter homes and even higher income properties.  Hopefully, a thoughtful, deliberate, data driven analysis can give us some accurate insights about the supply and demand of housing in Kent and be a basis for a more effective housing development strategy.

We’ve worked hard to increase the vibrancy of our downtown and we’re hoping that our rejuvenated downtown will make more people want to call Kent home.  To do that effectively, we feel like we need to know the condition of our housing market, what are Kent’s housing strengths, weaknesses, shortfalls, oversupply, etc.

Once we have a housing profile in hand we can sit with Council and the community to start moving the puzzle pieces around to find the right balance of housing in Kent.

The City doesn’t build houses so we don’t have direct control over what gets built but we can try to create opportunities for certain types of projects to occur in order to keep pace with local needs.  That’s our short term goal.

Long term, we’re interested in securing residents’ investments in their homes and making sure people have housing choices within Kent.

With the consultant analysis underway the firm has scheduled a Community Housing Forum for April 15th from 3-6 pm to take comments, reactions and thoughts on housing issues affecting Kent.

The consultants working on the Comprehensive Community Housing Study and Needs Analysis will be hosting a Community Housing Forum on Wednesday, April 15th from 3-6 p.m. at the Kent Free Library.
The Needs Analysis is primarily a data driven study, but the consulting team also wanted to have the opportunity to garner input from the community to ensure that the study includes a qualitative component that highlights what residents, students and other stakeholders have identified as important housing issues affecting the City of Kent.
The forum is 3 hours in length, but it will be structured as an open house that allows interested participants to stay for only a few minutes to share their thoughts, or to visit longer if they prefer to have a more in depth dialogue with the researchers.
I hope you can stop by the Community Housing Forum, but if you are unable to attend, you can still participate by completing a survey available at:


Portage County Health, 17th out of 88...

I previously posted some of the vital stats coming out of the Portage County Health Needs Assessment so when I saw statewide county comparison data I thought I’d pass that along too.

The statewide data broke it into 2 categories — 1) Health Outcomes: which is described as “how does our health in Portage County compare today with the other 87 counties in Ohio”; and 2)Health Factors: which looks at the way the Portage County health numbers are trending and predicts our future health rating.

The good new is based on our health profile today, Portage County ranks 17th out of 88 counties overall in Ohio.  The less good news is that we’re projected to lose ground and our future ranking is predicted at 33rd.

The optimist in me says there’s time to keep making progress in our public health in Portage County and stay in the 20% in Ohio.




New Police Station Project Update...

The architects continue to methodically work through the many layers of the new Police Station design and I know that they are currently testing the design with an early stage cost estimate just to make sure it’s in the right ball park.

It’s still early so if they need to value engineer some items out in order to keep the building on budget this is a good time to do that.

NewPolice_Building_Corner New Police Parking_Area

Meanwhile, the City is wrapping up the interview process to hire the ”owner’s rep” that we plan to hire to be on site everyday and make sure everything gets done on plan, on time and on budget.

There’s no guarantees that the owners rep can deliver all that since so many things are outside of their control – but we feel strongly that having them on the job site is important to giving us the best product and value for the public dollar.

Six firms applied for our owner’s rep contract and we interviewed the top 3.  We should be in a position to get the preferred firm on-board in the next couple of weeks which is a little ahead of the actual construction but we want them involved in this project from as early in design as possible through to the ribbon cutting.  I expect to have the owner’s rep contract signed in April.

As far as the site work goes, the first activity will be the demolition of the properties that currently occupy the site.  The City has purchased all of the properties needed and I’m thankful that we settled with all of the property owners without having to go to court.

Most of the properties that have been acquired have student tenants in them so as part of the purchase, the City authorized the landlords to honor their 2014-15 contracts which expire at various times this summer.  Once the current tenants move out, the City will mobilize the demolition contractor and begin the site preparation for construction.

Here’s a summary of the property availability for demolition.



KSU Spring Construction Updates...

If you’ve ever asked, “I wonder what KSU is doing with that building?” — you may find your answer below in the KSU Architect’s Office construction projects update for spring 2015.

New KSU Institutional Advancement Building

New KSU Institutional Advancement Building

From the Office of the University Architect.  Here are the major facility and infrastructure improvements that are currently being administered by the Office of the University Architect:

Beginning March 20, the Division of Undergraduate Studies (University College) will be officially relocating into their newly-renovated Center for Undergraduate Excellence (formerly Olson Center). For more information about the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, visit


Beall, McDowell, Prentice, and Dunbar Halls HVAC Replacement and Student Room Improvements
The three buildings within the Twin Towers Complex, Beall and McDowell halls, and Twin Towers Center, were all constructed in 1966; both Prentice and Dunbar halls were built in 1959. With this project, Residence Services will replace the HVAC systems and make student room improvements in Beall, McDowell, Prentice, and Dunbar halls. The project will include the demolition of the existing two-pipe convection heating units and installation of new, four-pipe heating and air conditioning fan coil units along with the associated piping, power and temperature control infrastructure in Beall, McDowell, and Prentice halls; Dunbar Hall is planned to remain a two-pipe heating-only system. All heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will be designed to meet the university’s energy and sustainability goals. The existing asbestos-containing floor tile within the residence rooms and corridors will be replaced with carpet tile floor finishes. While Beall and McDowell halls’ existing student room built-in wardrobe units will be demolished, the contractor will be responsible for managing the temporary removal and storage of the remaining student room furniture in all four buildings. The contractor will return the furniture and coordinate with the university’s furniture vendor for installation of the new wardrobe units. Van Auken Akins Architects, LLC is serving as the Criteria Architect/Engineer and Gilbane Building Company is serving as the Design-Builder for this project. Construction work within tunnels and mechanical areas began in February and the construction within the buildings will commence and be completed during this summer.

Institutional Advancement Building
A new Institutional Advancement Building is being built as a public/private partnership with GMS Development as the Developer and Gilbane Building Company as the Construction Manager at Risk. The project is being financed through the Portage County Port Authority. The new Institutional Advancement Building will house the Advancement Operations, Alumni Relations, The Center for Gift and Estate Planning, Corporate and Foundation Relations, the Office of Institutional Advancement, and the University Foundation. The facility will include administrative offices, a call center, meeting rooms, an 80-person event space with an adjacent exhibition hall, and associated support spaces. The three-story building will encompass approximately 34.000 SF and be situated prominently on the northwest corner of Lincoln and Summit streets. As a result of the sloping site, the first floor entrance will be located at the northwest side of the building, while the second floor could be accessed from the southeast side of the building. Exterior materials will be similar to and compatible with adjacent KSU buildings – Franklin and McGilvrey Halls. Exterior walls will be comprised of masonry brick, cast stone, and precast concrete veneers. A 120-car tiered parking lot will also be constructed as part of this project; it will be located on the west side of the site. The parking lot will be accessed from Willow Street to the west and Lincoln Street to the east. Stormwater will be collected via a stormwater detention basin at the very northwest corner of the site. This project will be built to comply with the USGBC standards to achieve a Silver LEED certification level. The building envelope will incorporate high levels of insulation and be thoroughly air-sealed. Mechanical and electrical systems were designed for enhanced efficiency in their operations. Site work, building foundations, and site utilities installations are underway. Currently, structural steel erection is in process with installation of the exterior wall system and roofing system to follow shortly thereafter. Installation of underground utilities has also commenced. Project completion is anticipated by this November.

Kent Campus Classroom, Laboratory, Auxiliary Buildings and Utility Assets Energy Conservation Project
In mid-November 2012, The Brewer-Garrett Company commenced activity on their Performance Contract services for energy conservation measures in Kent Campus classroom, laboratory and auxiliary buildings, Summit Street Power Plant and utilities infrastructure. This project impacted over 3.6 million square feet of buildings, plus parking lot and roadway lighting and campus utilities (electricity, natural gas, chilled water, steam, domestic water and sewer). The potential fifty million dollar project was limited to a twenty-five million dollar Phase 1 with a possible, but yet to-be-determined value, future Phase 2. External special bond funding was approved by the Kent State University Board of Trustees and the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority; funding all-in rate achieved 1.25% with a very positive effect on project cash flow. The project is utilizing Ohio House Bill 7 Performance Contracting regulations for payback of the project costs with guaranteed energy savings and possibly operational and avoided capital costs over a maximum 15-year time period. Expectations for Phase 1 of this project are that the majority of the House Bill 251 energy use reduction goals of 20% will be met. New windows were installed at: Administrative Services Building, Bowman Hall, DeWeese Health Center, Dix Stadium, Library and the Kent State University Museum at Rockwell Hall. New HVAC equipment was installed at: MAC Center, Schwartz Center, and the Ice Arena. Exterior lighting poles were retrofitted with LEDs. The Power Plant’s gas and electric utility contracts and operation were re-negotiated. Building envelope repairs were completed at: Administrative Services Building, Bowman Hall, DeWeese Health Center, Dix Stadium, KSU Museum, Library and Nixson Hall skylights. Bowman, Henderson, Moulton, and Nixson halls received new roofs. Lights with occupancy sensors were retrofitted in seventy-seven structures, air handlers were replaced in the MAC Center gym, chillers, boilers, pumps, heat exchangers and domestic water heating systems were replaced in the Schwartz Center, piping system insulation was installed, building envelopes were repaired, and comprehensive utility metering was installed. Closeout of the original scope items is in process and complete UFM staff training is pending. With remaining funds, several other projects have been added to the original scope and will extend this performance contract. Nixson Hall’s original, 45-year old chiller is failing, thus new piping will be connected to the Center for the Performing Arts’ chiller and is scheduled for completion by start of the cooling season. The Library’s 46-year old main condensate pump system will be replaced due to chronic failures with new steam pressure motive pumps. The Library’s front stairwell doors will be replaced to save energy and produce a cohesive front entry appearance. The new fiberglass doors will be painted to match the new champagne color window system. Two decorative LED uplights will be added to the Library west facade to match the existing lights on the south facade. Controls will be installed to allow for remotely changing the lighting program to enable special-events lighting. All eleven original mercury light fixtures in the Library overhang will be replaced with new LED fixtures with controls. Exterior lighting will be replaced with LED and controlled lighting at 12-story main glass wall stairwell for daylight energy savings. As-Built drawings and project closeout for the additional work are scheduled to be completed by April 30.

Medium Voltage Loop 6B
This project completes the process of abandoning the old, unreliable 5kv electrical distribution system in favor of the new and more efficient, higher voltage system. Work involves upgrading cabling and electrical equipment to enable the remaining buildings (Allerton Apartments, Art Building, Child Development Center, DeWeese Health Center, Ice Arena, Harbourt, Heer, Stewart, and VanCampen halls, Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and WKSU Broadcast Center) to accept the 13.2kv distribution voltage. All pre-existing, remaining 5kv cabling and equipment are being removed and a new, 13.2kv capacitor bank is being installed. To date, Lake Erie Electric has converted all buildings, except the Art Complex, over to the new system. The electrical contractor is coordinating with the Center for the Visual Arts construction project to have access to the site and electrical room in order to install the new equipment. Although this work had been delayed, data is being collected and verified for cross-project coordination and arc flash studies. The new 13.2 kV capacitor bank was delivered and set in place. Lake Erie Electric is installing and terminating all power and control wiring. The power factor correcting capacitors will enable additional energy efficiencies within the electrical distribution system. Work on this project is anticipated to continue through March.

Multiple Science Buildings Renovations and Addition
The construction of a new Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) and the renovations of three existing science buildings, Cunningham, Smith and Williams halls, were developed as a single project to provide a cohesive approach to science instruction and research space in these areas. Ayers/Saint/Gross, Incorporated, the Architect of Record, is designing and providing project management for all phases of the project. The Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing engineering firm, Prater Engineering, is under contract with the Architect of Record. Turner Construction Company is serving as Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Karpinski Engineering, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent, and Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. As construction commences, the following are details for each individual building:

Smith Hall Renovations (Physics)
Major facility repairs will be undertaken to ensure Smith Hall is “warm, safe and dry” and several areas will be renovated to enhance instruction and the student experience in the building.  Construction is nearly complete on the Smith Hall exterior envelope work. Roofing work is fully complete. Structural corrections to the concrete frame are complete and the color coating will be installed this spring, as weather permits. Roofing work is fully complete. Matching the current budget and with the support of the JPOC, the final scope of the remaining renovation work was identified for this building. An extensive effort will be undertaken to replace the current to-pipe hydronic mechanical system with a modern, forced-air system more suitable for a modern research and instructional building. In addition, a major restroom renovation will correct the accessibility, gender and fixture count issues from the original building design.

Williams Hall Renovations (Chemistry and Biochemistry)
Major facility repairs will be undertaken to ensure Williams Hall is “warm, safe and dry” and several areas will be renovated to enhance instruction and the student experience in the building. Air handler replacement work is nearing completion in the Williams Hall basement. With the coordination of the Construction Manager at Risk, this work is proceeding while maintaining full occupancy and classes in the building. The first air handler was installed and operational in December; this allows for the removal of the existing air handler and the installation of the second new air handler which is scheduled to start-up this March. Work associated with the connection of Williams Hall to the Integrated Sciences Building is progressing concurrently with the ISB and is in the Construction Documents Stage. The construction will follow a similar schedule to the ISB. With the support of the JPOC, the final scope of the remaining renovation work was identified for this building to align with the proposed budget.

New Facility for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design
The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) is fractionalized with classroom, studios and faculty offices scattered across the campus in three separate structures that do not reflect the caliber of the program. Taylor Hall is the base of CAED’s operations and its location within the May Fourth Historic District makes it impossible to modify that building in a constructive way. The new building is programmed at approximately 120,000 SF and includes studios, classrooms, administrative offices and various shop and research spaces. The new building is being located on the Lefton Esplanade extension; the project includes all sidewalks, parking lots, landscaping and utility extensions to the site and building. Richard L. Bowen + Associates, Inc., in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi, is serving as the Architect of Record for this project. Gilbane Building Company is serving as the Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification, but is being designed to a LEED Platinum target. Maximizing energy conservation is a critical component of the design goals to comply with House Bill 251. An initial Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) Amendment was executed on November 20, 2014 for early site work and foundations. Site clearing, utility disconnections and steel shoring are underway in order to begin excavation of the basement and deep foundations. This initial site package work is currently 65% complete. The remainder of the building scope has been submitted to the university under GMP Amendment No. 2 and is currently under review. Construction is anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2016 with classes commencing Fall Semester 2016.

Olson Center Rehabilitation for Undergraduate Studies
The former Olson Center, located along the Lefton Esplanade and adjacent to the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, was built in 1961 as a dining facility, but was converted to offices in the early 1980s. Renovations to this newly renamed “Center for Undergraduate Excellence” enhanced the facade facing this highly-visited section of campus and addressed deferred maintenance issues. The Division of Undergraduate Studies was located in the Olson Center; the Undergraduate Studies Center for Excellence tutoring and other operations are located in the Schwartz Center and the Library. At 28,000 SF, the former kitchen and dining hall areas that recently housed Undergraduate Studies and two departments from the School of Art are being transformed into a modern, student-focused tutoring and exploratory advising center. With its prime location in the center of campus, students can easily access tools to help them achieve success at Kent State, including group tutoring, walk-in tutoring, online tutoring and scheduled tutoring. Domokur Architects designed this project; it will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. Maximizing energy conservation is a critical component of the design goals to comply with House Bill 251. Separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. Dunlop & Johnston’s on-site construction will be completed in March in time for University College’s (formerly Undergraduate Studies) planned move-in during and immediately after Spring Break.

Renovations and Additions for the School of Art
The School of Art currently occupies seven different buildings on the Kent Campus: the Art Building, Art Annex, Van Deusen Hall, Schwartz Center, Ceramics Building, Olson and Terrace halls. The Art Annex once served as the university’s former central heating plant; a two-phase renovation was planned to house several art programs. Phase one was completed in 2007 and this project will complete the second phase of renovations. Recommendations to renovate Van Deusen Hall were approved, enabling the buildings to be linked together by the addition, thus creating space for the entire School of Art to be housed under one roof. When completed, the entire Center for the Visual Arts complex will be comprised of approximately 125,800 SF. Van Deusen needs significant renovations to accommodate the program space; the old Heating Plant section of the Art Annex was partially demolished and is being rebuilt. In general, the project provides new MEP infrastructure, interior finishes, and envelope repairs/replacement. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. Payto Architects, Inc., the Architect of Record, completed a study with several different renovation scenarios. Ozanne Construction Company served as Construction Management at Risk for Bid Events 1A and 1B, and concluded their work last March. The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. Portions of the buildings are remaining occupied during the renovations. Two early construction packages commenced last spring to relocate existing utilities and perform abatement and demolition in the Art Annex and former Heating Plant. Utility work commenced last May and will be completed this August. Demolition and abatement work began in the Art Annex last September and is continuing in Van Deusen in two phases anticipated to be completed this summer. Multiple-Prime Contracts for site and structural work for the addition in between the Art Annex and Van Deusen Hall were bid by the A/E. Bid Event 02 work is progressing with Precision Engineering & Contracting, 21st Century Concrete Construction, Inc., and Lake Building Products on-site. Baumann Enterprises, 21st Century Concrete Construction, Thomarios, S. A. Comunale Co., Summit Electric, Echo 24, Johnson Controls, and ABC Piping Co. are also involved in the construction process. The project schedule currently shows the Art Annex and Addition completing work by June 1, 2015, and the remainder of Van Deusen Hall completed by December 10, 2015.

Student Memorial Garden
To create a singular location for student memorials, the Student Memorial Garden is being built on the Kent Campus for students to remember and recognize students that have passed away. In August, Hummel Construction Company and W. T. Leone’s Tri-Area Electric Company commenced work on this project that was designed by Robert D. Morgan, LLC. Electrical work has been completed; the planting and lawn areas will be completed this spring, as weather permits. The dedication of the Student Memorial Garden will take place April 28.

Tri-Towers Residence Halls Rooms and HVAC Upgrades
Built in 1968, the Tri-Towers complex consists of two ten-story residence halls, one twelve-story residence hall and a central connecting building for dining and student activities. The complex houses approximately 1,400 students and previously received two large-scale, but partial renovations within the last ten years. This project addresses deferred maintenance issues, including aging HVAC infrastructure, building envelope failures, interior room configurations and finishes that were not corrected as part of previous renovations and extending the life of the buildings for another thirty years. Domokur Architects is serving as the Architect of Record to assist with designing and providing project management for all phases of the project. The AOR contracted directly with Scheeser Buckley Mayfield for MEP engineering design. Four Seasons Environmental is serving as the Commissioning Agent. Gilbane Building Company is serving as Construction Manager at Risk for this project. Construction was completed during the summers of 2013 and 2014 in Wright, Koonce, and Leebrick halls. During the summer of 2015, the Rotunda will undergo similar exterior repairs and receive a new roof.


Allerton Apartments Abatement and Demolition, Phase 2: Units A, B, C and D
Phase two of this project to abate and demolish the remaining Allerton Apartment Buildings A, B, C and D was designed by The Osborn Engineering Company. Corresponding studies were produced to show the remaining green space being utilized as athletic fields. Contractors’ bids will be opened on April 6. Abatement and demolition activities will begin later this summer after residents’ leases expire.

Engleman Hall Roof Replacement
Engleman Hall’s existing EPDM roof will be removed and replaced. The garden roof system/pavers will be removed and replaced with a new paver system. Fall protection equipment will be installed. This project was designed by Braun & Steidl Architects. Contractors’ bids for construction will be opened on March 20.

Geauga Classroom Building HVAC Replacements, Phase 4
In 2010, Kent State University at Geauga commissioned a study to evaluate the Classroom Building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to determine and recommend which HVAC equipment and systems are most in need of replacement and to recommend a system type for replacement. Karpinski Engineering, Inc. designed the multiple phases of this project to complete the HVAC replacements as separate work during the course of several years. During Phase 4 of this project, the last Trane rooftop unit will be removed and a new make-up air and VRF system will be installed to complete the building’s remaining areas conversion to a VRF system, thus completing the overall system. Contractors’ bids for the final Phase 4 construction will be opened on March 31.

Korb Hall Elevator Modernization
This project, designed by Van Auken Akins Architects, details the modernization of Korb Hall’s elevator. This project will utilize the existing hoistway while making improvements to the elevator machinery and adding necessary fire prevention features. The contract award is pending with the Apparent Low Bidder, Stitle Construction Corporation, for bids that were opened on February 10.

Nixson Hall Kitchen Renovations
Kitchen equipment in Nixson Hall’s Food Lab is original to the building, circa 1965, and is showing its age. This project will provide new finishes, new cabinets, ceilings and MEP systems in the kitchen space. Contractors’ bids for construction will be opened on March 31 for this project that was designed by David Ports Architect, Inc.

White Hall Restroom Renovation
White Hall’s restrooms are original to the building, circa 1966, and do not currently meet ADA guidelines; finishes and fixtures are worn. This project will provide new finishes, and upgrade HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems for code compliance and to meet ADA requirements in White Hall’s existing restrooms. Contractors’ bids for construction will be opened on April 8 for this project that was design by Vocon Design, Inc.


Centennial Court and Engleman Hall ADA Improvements
These projects, designed by Metropolitan Architecture Studio, detail necessary ADA enhancements, including revisions to restroom layouts, in Korb Hall and the Centennial Court residence halls. Field investigation work was completed over the summer of 2014. Kent State recently selected Regency Construction Services, Inc. to serve as the Construction Manager at Risk for these combined projects. This Construction Manager at Risk combined project is being managed via OAKS-CI.

East Campus Chilled Water Plant New Chiller
This project, designed by Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, adds a new chiller and cooling tower to the existing East Campus Chilled Water Plant. As more residence halls have been upgraded to have air conditioning, the demands on the existing infrastructure have increased. This new equipment would allow for system growth and redundancy while providing energy savings and peak performance. Construction Documents are being completed and this project should begin advertising for bidding in late March. Construction will proceed in phases so as to not interrupt any chilled water service to the residence halls.

Multiple Science Buildings Renovations and Addition
The construction of a new Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) and the renovations of three existing science buildings, Cunningham, Smith and Williams halls, were developed as a single project to provide a cohesive approach to science instruction and research space in these areas. Ayers/Saint/Gross, Incorporated, the Architect of Record, is designing and providing project management for all phases of the project. The Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing engineering firm, Prater Engineering, is under contract with the Architect of Record. Turner Construction Company is serving as Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Karpinski Engineering, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent, and Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. As construction commences, the following are details for each individual building:

Cunningham Hall Renovations (Biological Sciences)
Major facility repairs will be undertaken to ensure Cunningham Hall is “warm, safe and dry” and several areas will be renovated to enhance instruction and the student experience in the building. The initial scope of work for Cunningham Hall is in the Construction Documents Stage. The first phase of work includes installations of a new ADA elevator and lobby addition, as well as major infrastructure improvements to the air handling units and electrical system. Construction will commence this April. With the support of the JPOC, the final scope of the remaining renovation work was identified for this building, as well utilizing currently allocated funds; additional scope items are in the Design Development Stage.

Integrated Sciences Building
The Integrated Sciences Building project is in the Construction Documents Stage and is currently tracking on budget. Construction is scheduled to start this fall and by completed by June 2017. ISB will be opened for classes for Fall Semester 2017. A shelled-out basement was accepted by JPOC as an add alternate to the project. This shelled-out space would provide for future research growth in the building.

West River Continued...

I took a look back at the West River Revitalization earlier this week because it’s a great turn-around story that’s not quite done turning yet.

Over the last couple of months there’s been a grass roots effort to get enough signatures from neighborhood residents to get a vote in the next election (November) to allow alcohol to be sold in a proposed new micro-brewery/brew-pub that is proposed to open in the building that currently houses the Dale Adams car restoration business.

Mr. Adams sent a letter out to all his neighbors reporting that he’s reached an age where he wants to scale back his car restoration WRiverCarRestorationbusiness and he’s got a new restaurant prospect that would like to be tenant in the building.

Experience has shown that restaurants can’t survive on food alone — customers like to have a little wine or beer to go with their meal – but that neighborhood is “dry” which means no wine or beer can be sold without going to the voters for special approval.

Mr. Adams and his prospective tenant have taken the first step and submitted the required signatures to the Portage County Board of Elections to get the alcohol sale request on the November ballot.

In the meantime,  I dug through our old files and found some examples of the kinds of redevelopment that the City leaders had in mind back in the 1990′s when they first started buying the old blighted properties to make way for some new stuff.

It turns out that Mr. Adam’s idea of converting his restored building into an iconic restaurant with outdoor seating that overlooks the river (and the hike/bike trails) was an idea that came up 20 years ago — and now it seems like it’s an idea who’s time has come.





Mr. Adams hasn’t provided too many details about his prospective restaurant tenant but we’ve been told that it’s a proposed partnership with the current owner of the Bistro On Main who has built a loyal following for top shelf food and drink, and great atmosphere, that has made the Bistro into a destination dining hot spot.

The Bistro formula for success seems like it’s ready to take a jump into the brew-pub concept that we’ve heard being tossed around for the Dale Adams building.  Everything about Kent seems to scream brew-pub, and places like Ray’s and Water Street Tavern have definitely tapped into the craft brew and fine food mix, but no one has jumped in with both feet and taken home brewing to a commercial scale in Kent yet.

After getting a taste of Kent’s craft beer potential with the Sierra Nevada interest in Kent 3-4 years ago we’ve talked to a half dozen different craft brewing companies within (and outside) northeast Ohio to see if we could stir up some interest in a Kent location.  Even though we didn’t land anybody yet we were encouraged by the interest and while a brew-pub isn’t on the scale of a craft brewery, it would be a great start.

Based on the positive feedback we were getting from possible craft brewers we identified the West River corridor as a prime location for a small brewery operation and we had an architectural firm put some ideas together for us to see if we could stir up interest.  Here’s a look at how an architect thought a brew pub or small craft beer production facility could fit along the river in the West River corridor.

Keep in mind that these are just fun-filled ideas to generate interest at this point in time.


WestRiverBrewPubConcept1WestRiverCraftBrewConceptWestRiverCorridorConcept WestRiverPedConcept

West River Redevelopment...

Downtown Kent’s revitalization made a big splash in the local, regional and even national news media and we want to keep that buzz coming because a strong downtown is capable of strapping all Kent’s neighborhoods on its back and lifting them up too.

The downtown may have been Kent’s biggest transformation story but it wasn’t the first.  The West River Neighborhood revitalization pre-dates the downtown by about 10 years and maybe it didn’t have the same “super-wow” factor as the downtown it had plenty of “wow” and more importantly it was instrumental in showing how the City, with a few strategic investments, can be a catalyst for redevelopment.

The lessons learned from the West River project set the stage for downtown work.  We saw how land banking can work to remove longstanding eyesores and attract new investment.

We got some practice with our economic development tools and brokering deals with private developers.   Those were skills we leaned heavy-on for the downtown project.

Don’t get me wrong, the West River Project was not just a test-run — it was the real deal that led to a hundred or so new jobs and significantly improved an important part of the Kent community that had been struggling.

See for yourself.





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