Work on the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center has not stopped, a university official said Wednesday.
Rumors are swirling around town that construction on the five story, 76,000 square foot building has come to a halt.
Gene Finn, executive director of the Kent State Foundation and vice president for institutional advancement, said work has simply become less visible on the more than $15 million project.
"There is absolutely no work stoppage at the hotel," Finn said.
The new hotel and conference center is being built by Downtown Kent Hotel LLC, which is formally a partnership of the Kent State Foundation and Columbus-based The Pizzuti Companies, which is led by Kent native Ron Pizzuti.
Shannon Hamons, director of special projects at Pizzuti Cos., countered the prominent rumor that the project encountered financing problems.
"The project is fully funded by the foundation," he said. "The funding has never been an issue."
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.
The university foundation board voted in June to partner with Pizzuti and invest in the hotel.
Hamons said there has been a lull at the construction site in recent weeks for three reasons. Pace of construction slowed as some contractors finished their work and and prepared to leave while others got ready to start; minor modifications were being made to some of the hotel's interior design elements; and there was a discrepancy with some fire proofing materials that needed to be worked out with the Kent Fire Department.
Pizzuti consults the university foundation as changes are made, Hamons said.
"Those probably were the three major things that kind of slowed" the pace of construction, he said.
The site has been conspicuously devoid of construction workers in recent weeks as other surrounding downtown redevelopment sites have buzzed with activity.
But both Finn and Hamons said activity at the hotel site should pick up in the coming weeks.
Finn said the project's contractor is scheduled to start putting the roof on the building next week.
"All construction is on schedule," he said.
One other change in the project is its time table. When officials broke ground on the hotel in September they anticipated its opening in the spring of 2013.
Hamons said they determined about two months ago that the hotel won't be open until June of next year.
"We will be working through winter and we’ll be open next June," he said.
The new hotel at 215 S. DePeyster St. will add close to 100 rooms and a 300-seat banquet center to downtown.
Here's the numerical rundown on the Kent State hotel, which will not be tied to a national chain.
- Estimated project cost: more than $15 million
- First floor: 22,780 total square feet with 11,000 square feet dedicated to the 300-seat conference area
- 95 guest rooms and a fitness center spread out over three upper floors; four floors total
- Total building size of 76,350 square feet