New Courthouse Entrance Moved to Center of Building
Kent Planning Commission approves site plan for 30,000 square foot building
Altered plans for the new Kent courthouse — with the main entrance moved to the center, front of the building — were approved unanimously by the Kent Planning Commission Tuesday night.
The big change in the plans moved the main entrance from the southeast corner of the building to the center of the building's southern face, which faces East Main Street.
Architect Allan Renzi of Richard L. Bowen & Associates in Cleveland, the firm designing the building for Portage County, said the Portage County Commissioners agreed to move the main entrance at the recommendation of the Kent Architectural Review Board.
"The site plan was revised … based on recommendations that came from (the architecture board)," Renzi said.
The initial proposal to put the entrance at the corner drew opposition from the architecture board, whose members said previously a center entrance made more sense for the building because it is in the middle, and not the corner, of its block.
Portage County Commissioner Chris Smeiles said the judges and commissioners agreed and directed the architects to make the change to the entrance.
Kent Economic Development Dan Smith said county officials signed off on all the architecture board's recommendations, which included slight changes to the brick facade to better fit in with the architecture of the rest of Kent's downtown redevelopment projects.
"From our perspective we’re very pleased that it matches," he said.
Members of the commission reacted positively to the county's agreed upon change to the entrance.
"I’m glad the entry moved because that saved us a lot of time tonight," commission member Peter Paino said. "Other than that, I think the site plan … presented here is an improvement."
The second big change presented Tuesday was a reduction in parking on site. City code requires 144 for the project, which earlier this summer had gotten a variance from the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals to have 132 spaces. The project got a second variance Monday from the zoning board that permits 109 spaces on site.
Renzi said they moved the building further back on the property — another recommendation from the architecture board — so it was more in line with its neighbors, the Kent Historical Society and Cuttin' Loose salon buildings.
As a result, the site plan couldn't accomodate all the parking initially planned.
"This facility probably does not require any more than 109” parking spaces, he said.
Renzi said they also plan to install bicycle racks as part of the project.