The architect helping to organize the proposed relocation of the historic Kent Wells-Sherman House pitched the proposal to the Kent Planning Commission Tuesday.
Rick Hawksley showed site plans for the property on North Water Street, between Scribbles Coffee and Standing Rock Cultural Arts, where the Friends of the Kent Wells-Sherman House and TransPortage want to move the house to.
The pre Civil War greek revival, standing at 250 E. Erie St., is in the path of Kent State University's Esplanade extension and must be moved this summer for construction.
Hawksley said he made the courtesy presentation Tuesday to find out if the commission had any serious reservations about the project or the proposed site plan.
Commission member John Gargan said he was concerned about losing the character of the empty lot, which now is used by Standing Rock for various public uses.
"I just don’t like losing some unique greenspace," Gargan said. "It does have some character … that’s the biggest problem I would have with this.
Jim Vandenboom, a local artist, also was worried about the potential loss for Standing Rock if the house is relocated there.
"I agree with the project, but as far as the city putting any money towards moving it to an inappropriate location, and I feel this is, I would be against it," Vandenboom said. "That location has been a big part of Standing Rock Cultural Arts. They’ve fixed it up. They’ve done a lot of work. It’s a value to the community."
Hawksley said he's talked with SRCA Director Jeff Ingram and believes they could work out a partnership if the house is moved there. He said the first floor of the house would be a semi-public space available for group meetings, and much of the rear of the property would remain open for use.
"We are very sympathetic to that," Hawksley said.
He said the group working to save the house considered about a dozen different locations throughout the city, but for a number of reasons this site proved the most feasible.
"The main thing it comes down to is we’re running out of time," Hawksley said. "The sites that are preferable are not feasible. Finding a use and a site and the money has been an amazing journey. I think we’ve settled on something that’s practical and we can make work."
The owner of the property's other neighboring building where Scribbles stands, Steve Balazs, said his main concern is that the house would be set back from North Water Street far enough to avoid blocking the view of Edwin George's mural on the north side of his building.
"My only concern is being able to see that," Balazs said. "I think the (proposed setback) will make that suffice."
The Kent Board of Zoning Appeals will consider a setback variance for the house to stand 10 feet back from sidewalk on June 18. The planning commission will vote on the site plan June 19.
In the meantime, Hawksley said they may have to move the house before then to avoid delaying Kent State's construction.
"They want it out of the way sooner rather than later, so we’re trying to comply with that," he said.