Members of the Kent State Foundation board have officially agreed to invest in the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Kent.
The board voted June 11 to "provide the funding needed" to build a new hotel in downtown Kent bearing the Kent State seal, according to a statement issued Friday by the foundation.
The total amount the board will invest will be determined once the financing package for the project is finished, according to the statement.
So far plans for the hotel, to be built by Columbus-based development partner Pizzuti Companies, carry a price tag between $15 million and $16 million. University officials have said in the past the foundation is expected to invest up to $3 million in the project.
The foundation has already spent more than $500,000 buying the two large properties needed for the 95-room hotel and 300-seat conference center.
"Our board is thrilled to have the opportunity to help underwrite the cost of the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center," Cathy Hemming, chair of the board, said in a statement. "If you look at the purpose of the foundation – to support the growth and success of Kent State University — this project aligns perfectly with that mission."
The foundation is a legally separate, not-for-profit organization that receives private gifts on behalf of Kent State University and then manages and invests those funds. It is managed by a separate board of directors and administrative staff.
Construction for the hotel is expected to start this summer. The last building on the site was recently demolished. A sign package for the as-yet unnamed hotel brand has yet to be submitted to the Kent Planning Commission, but the start of construction does not hinge on the signs.
The hotel is expected to open in late 2012 to coincide with the opening of the Kent Central Gateway transit center — and its more than 300 parking spaces — just across Erie Street from the conference center entrance.
The site for the hotel is the triangular-shaped piece of land bordered by Erie Street, Haymaker Parkway and South DePeyster Street. The hotel will meet The Esplanade pedestrian pathway, which the university is planning to extend from campus, through the neighborhood on its western edge and into downtown.
"There are so many ways this center will contribute to Kent State’s vitality," Hemming said. "It will provide close-in, convenient lodging for parents, prospective students, visiting lecturers and alumni. It will offer state-of-the-art space for business and academic meetings. It will create a tangible link between campus and community. And, it will create cash flows that the foundation will be able to reinvest in the university and its students."