Architecture Board Opposes New Courthouse Entrance
New building on East Main Street has planned corner entrance; Kent Planning Commission will review project Aug. 21
Kent's Architectural Review Board issued a certificate of appropriateness Tuesday for Kent's new courthouse — but with opposition to the building's main entrance.
Members of the ARB voted 3-1 to issue the certificate and recommend the Kent Planning Commission approve the project plans at its Aug. 21 meeting.
But the ARB suggested the commission approve the site plan and building design with the main entrance in the center, front of the new courthouse rather than at the southeast corner as planned.
"I think it's important that building have a front presence," ARB member Allan Orashan said.
Portage County Commissioners and judges agreed late last month to make some changes the architecture board recommended in mid July, such as fewer parking spaces, but county officials were adamant about keeping the corner entrance.
Architect Allan Renzi of Richard L. Bowen & Associates in Cleveland, the firm designing the building, told members of the ARB Tuesday that two of the new buildings under construction in downtown Kent — referring to the Davey Resource Group and AMETEK buildings — have prominent corner entrances.
"So there is some precedence in the area," Renzi said.
Kent architect Doug Fuller, a member of the ARB, pointed out those two buildings sit on corner lots at street intersections.
"Not in the middle of a block," he said.
The new courthouse will stand on the largely vacant lot at 303 E. Main St. The two-story building will be more than 20,000 square feet with 109 parking spaces.
Kent’s zoning board voted last month to grant the project a variance to reduce the number of parking spots from the 144 required by code to 132. Now the project will need to go before the zoning board again to get approval for the 109 spaces.
Renzi said they reduced the parking, at the ARB's request, and also changed the site plan to move the new courthouse further back from East Main Street so it sits more in line with its next-door neighbors, the Kent Historical Society and Cuttin' Loose salon buildings.
He said the changes made at the ARB's recommendation didn't lead to any changes to the building's internal floor plan.