Kent State to Spend $1.42 Million on 3 More Esplanade Properties
Construction on Esplanade expected to start in spring 2012
Three more properties in the neighborhood west of the Kent State University campus have been tagged as necessary for construction of the Esplanade, the pedestrian path that will link the campus to downtown Kent.
The university's board of trustees approved spending $1.42 million Tuesday to buy three more properties for the project, which is part of Kent's overall redevelopment and will tie the campus to the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center under construction downtown.
The properties, their owners and agreed sale prices are:
- 209 S. Willow St., MCP Willow 209 LLC, $570,000
- 210 S. Willow St., George and Patricia Waliga, Trustees, $400,000
- 208 S. Lincoln St., Jay and Margie Waliga, $450,000
All three houses are listed as licensed rooming houses registered with Kent's Health Department. How much income a property can generate based on the number of permitted tenants is included as part of the appraisals.
Kent State University President Lester Lefton said all three houses had about 13 bedrooms each.
"They’re former large homes that have been converted into rooming houses," Lefton said.
The amount approved Tuesday by the trustees would bring the university's total spent buying land in the neighborhood west of campus since 2007 to almost $7.5 million. That total excludes the $3.28 million expected for construction costs to actually build the pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
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.
Physically, the Esplanade will leave the campus and weave a wide pedestrian path lined with open landscaping and artwork through the neighborhood. The Esplanade will terminate at Haymaker Parkway near the new hotel.
University officials said in June they had secured all the key properties necessary along the proposed Esplanade route, but that they were still working on buying additional properties necessary to provide landscape buffer areas for the Esplanade extension.
And state documents related to the project show the university has a little more than an acre to buy yet before it's done buying land for the Esplanade. On Monday, the State Controlling Board approved $1.57 million in land buys for the Esplanade project that Kent State's trustees voted on in September. The controlling board's agenda from Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, indicates that the university has yet to obtain 1.08 acres for the project.
Lefton would not comment Tuesday as to whether or not the university is done buying land for the project.
"Our goal is to ensure that the environs of the Esplanade and the environs of Franklin Hall and our other academic buildings have an appropriate surrounding for students and a safe environment that we can control," he said. "If you look at some city universities ... they are often surrounded by some, I don’t want to use the phrase rough, but some mixed-use neighborhoods, which tend to bring non students to the neighborhood (and) create a lot of traffic, (and) bring people who really don’t have business at the university to the university campus."
He described a park-like setting as planned for the area across from the new hotel where the Esplanade will meet Haymaker Parkway near the existing intersection of Haymaker Parkway and East Erie St.
"So when people leave the hotel and conference center they’ll walk across Haymaker (Parkway) into this park-like environment, which will then funnel them onto the Esplanade and into the center of campus," Lefton said. "This is not to build a barrier around the university, but really to create a neighborhood around the university where people can come with their kids to play, to walk their dogs, to ride their bicycles, and not to have traffic and local establishments that would not necessarily enhance the neighborhood."
Kent State already owns 24 properties in the neighborhood to its west. Ten more properties are either pending transfer of the deed or awaiting state approval for the sale.
Construction on the pathway is expected to start in the spring with it opening in 2013 around the same time as the hotel.
"We expect to be demolishing homes and beginning the infrastructure work for the esplanade at the first thaw," Lefton said. "And we expect it to take a year to finish."