Kent State University is almost done buying land west of its campus so it can extend the Esplanade pathway into downtown.
The university's trustees approved spending $377,500 to buy two houses in the neighborhood west of campus where the university has been expanding since 2009 in order to build its Esplanade extension.
Kent State President Lester Lefton said there are just a few more properties in the neighborhood that the university is interested in.
"None (are) critical to us … in the sense that we won’t be able to move forward," Lefton said. "We have the properties necessary to build the Esplanade, so we will not be held up."
The properties, their owner, the purchase prices and appraised values are:
- 329 E. College Ave., Quatro Novus LLC, $197,500, appraised for $205,000
- 230 S. Willow St., Quatro Novus LLC, $180,000, appraised for $185,000
The amount approved Wednesday by the trustees would bring the university's total spent buying land in the neighborhood west of campus since 2007 to more than $7.5 million. That total excludes the $3.28 million expected for construction costs to actually build the pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
The university owns 33 properties in the neighborhood west of campus, excluding today's buys, and four more properties are pending transfer or state approval.
Physically, the Esplanade will leave the campus and weave a wide pedestrian path towards downtown lined with open landscaping and artwork through the neighborhood. The Esplanade will terminate at Haymaker Parkway near the university foundation's new hotel.
The project has been in the works for several years as the university bought properties in the neighborhood west of campus so its on-campus leg of The Portage Hike and Bike Trail could continue its meandering ways into downtown Kent. It ran into a slight complication this month while city and university officials try to determine if one house in the path of the Esplanade has historic ties to the city and should be spared demolition.
Lefton said the university is interested in just a few more properties in the neighborhood to help create a buffer around the Esplanade.
"And we’ve done conversations with those owners," he said. "We can wait 20 or 30 years, the university will be here, if somebody doesn’t want to sell us their property. We will not be held up."