Editor's Note: It could easily be argued that the redevelopment of a large portion of downtown Kent is the biggest story of 2011, and will be the biggest story again for 2012.
Kent Patch has been there with multiple stories, videos and dozens of photos from every groundbreaking and major development of the individual projects.
Below is one of the original stories, republished today as one of the editor's picks for top stories of 2011.
VIDEOS: City, Fairmount Break Ground on $29 Million Development Project
Aug. 9, 2011
Kent officials broke ground this morning with Cleveland-based development partner Fairmount Properties on a $29 million mixed-use project key to the downtown revival efforts.
The groundbreaking represents several years of work toward building 185,000 square feet of new retail, commercial and residential space on city-owned land downtown. The project will take shape in at least three different buildings in the block bordered by Haymaker Parkway, Erie, South DePeyster and South Water streets.
Adam Branscomb, the Kent project manager for Fairmount Properties, said both FirstMerit Bank and Huntington Bank have agreed to help finance the project with Huntington responsible for the lion's share — close to $20 million.
Fairmount and its joint venture partner Premiere Development Partners raised capital for the remaining $9 million, which includes support from a Pittsburgh-based investor, Branscomb said.
Today's groundbreaking comes as the city and Fairmount work to meet a deadline of opening the first building, at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street, by the end of 2012 for corporate tenant .
The 60 to 70 employees of the Davey Resource Group will relocate from Stow to occupy about 13,000 square feet in Fairmount's "Building A," which will rise at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street.
Karl Warnke, CEO of , said the project represents Davey Tree returning to its roots after finding its start in downtown Kent before moving north to the city limits near .
"Davey's very, very proud to be one of the anchor tenants of this beautiful and progressive project," Warnke said.
The second corporate tenant, AMETEK, will move about 80 employees from its Lake Street facility to downtown. AMETEK will occupy about 40,000 square feet in Fairmount's "Building B," which will stand on Erie Street facing Acorn Alley II.
Matt French, vice president and general manager for AMETEK's Kent division, echoed remarks made by President Lester Lefton about the sense of unity the downtown redevelopment has created in the city.
"He mentioned us becoming family," French said. "But somewhere during the process we became 'us.'"
The third structure, "Building C," will stand at the corner of Erie and South DePeyster streets and will feature a first-floor restaurant with residential space on the upper floors. A potential fourth building will rise just south of the residential complex and will line South DePeyster Street between Haymaker Parkway and the alley running east and west through the block.
The city and Fairmount announced 11 other tenants in the project in April. Those tenants are:
- Aladdin's, a Lebanese-American restaurant with one location in Hudson
- Bricco, a pub-style eatery with locations in Cleveland and Akron
- Dave's Cosmic Subs
- Panini's bar and grill
- Palmieri Salon, a branch of Dino Palmieri Salon & Spa
- Shop 42, a clothing boutique
- Asian Chao restaurant
- Nature's Table, a wrap and smoothie shop
- Einstein Bros. Bagels, a bagel and sandwich shop
- The Market Path, a locally traded home decor and retail store
- Rockin' Taco, a Mexican restaurant.
Branscomb said they recently added Yogurt Vi, a custom frozen yogurt shop that has a location in Legacy Village.
In the center of the block, the city will build a 115-space parking lot to serve the corporate employees for AMETEK and Davey. The development agreement requires Fairmount pay the city $30,000 annually for 15 years to pay for cover maintenance of the surface lot.
The lot will only be available to office workers at Davey and AMETEK Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The 115 spaces will be open to the public on weekends and daily after 6 p.m.
Both companies have signed leases committing to 15 years in the project.
The city and Fairmount's redevelopment block represents just one piece of downtown Kent's revival. Scroll down for a recap of recent stories on the downtown redevelopment projects:
Kent State University projects
PARTA transit center