August was a productive month for downtown Kent redevelopment. We signed agreements that begin to lock down the terms of what will get built, where it will go, and how it will get paid for.
We’ve said all along that we can’t go this alone so we’ve cultivated some great partners — but like any partnership, it’s all fun and games until you start signing commitments. That’s the truest test of partnerships and that’s why August was such a good month — our partners stepped up and signed deals that will now carry us into the final stage of predevelopment as everyone now has what they need to hit the credit markets to get construction loans.
Arguably the most important milestone passed in August was coming to terms on the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Agreement with the School Board. That agreement creates a way to finance the City portions of the project, e.g., parking, street improvements, sidewalk improvements, utilities, landscaping, etc. These are tough economic times and we needed the Kent City Schools as a partner — and that’s what we got.
August also saw approvals by the City Board of Zoning and Planning Commission for the mixed use (retail, office, restaurant, residential) portions of the downtown project. Here’s a couple of the renderings that were approved:
The City will now move forward with the demolition of the buildings in the mixed use block in September or early October. Here’s a list of those buildings which will come down to make way for the new stuff:
255 S. – 257 Water Street- The Rock Cafe/ Our Father- formerly owned by KSU
233-241 S. Water Street – Jason’s Barber Shop, Rental apartment, former Cigar Shop
121-128 W. Erie Street – Residential Multi Family House
206 W. Erie Street – Record Courier
200 S. DePeyster Street – The Bar’n
225 S. Water Street -Kent Hardware
The Phoenix Project also announced it’s next phase, including the extension of Acorn Alley, which will run thru to Erie Street (ending directly across from the new mixed use development). Mr. Burbick hopes to have this phase under construction before the year is out. Here’s a hand rendering that he has been circulating to share his vision of this phase:
What has happened over the last couple of weeks is that after City Council passed the TIF and Land Development Agreement, the University and the Pizzuti company have committed to wrapping up the pro forma, the hotel/conference center layout, and the operating agreement for their facilities by early September so that the hotel conference center package can get before the Board of Trustees as soon as possible.
In the next 2 months we will need to come to an agreement with PARTA regarding a parking operations plan for the multi-modal facility, including recommendations for pricing the use of the parking garage. These are policy level discussions that we will bring into City Council for direction over the next couple of months, once we understand the full range of annual operating costs that the City will be asked to pay for its share of the parking garage (floors 2 and 3), e.g., building maintenance, striping, lighting, utilities, etc. The objective has been to take the revenues from the lease of the retail space in the multi-modal facility and payments from the hotel parking in the garage to offset the annual operating costs of the structure and be cost neutral for the City.