All that's left now is for officials in Columbus to give it the OK and downtown Kent will get a new entertainment district — complete with four new liquor permits.
unanimously voted Wednesday for the last time to approve the creation of an entertainment district encompassing the blocks in the midst of a $100 million redevelopment. Council voted in committee to approve the district, which the city has .
The district paves the way for establishment of four new liquor permits with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control so four new restaurants coming to downtown can sell alcohol.
The 20-acre district, per Ohio Revised Code, allows Kent to create the four new permits by making them only applicable to space in the district, which is bordered by Haymaker Parkway, Franklin Avenue, East Main Street and includes a portion of the Esplanade acreage.
All four restaurants will open in the city's redevelopment project it is partnering on with Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties.
Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith said the review by officials in Columbus is pure procedure at this point, and the district is expected to be approved.
Adam Branscomb, a development manager at Fairmount Properties, said previously they plan to restrict the permits to the restaurant permises within the redevelopment buildings.
"It’s critical to us that we control the use of these permits and that the restaurant operators meet the high expectations of the council, the community and the business establishment in downtown Kent," Branscomb said. "And those permits will be essentially tied to the premises. It’s a way of controlling those permits and keeping them in the family, so to speak."
The permits cannot be resold or used outside the district, but if a restaurant leaves and a new business comes in that doesn't need the permit they could eventually become available to the general public for another business within the district.
Several of the restaurants planning to open in the redevelopment project that will use the liquor permits include Panini's Bar and Grill, Newdle Bar, Bricco and Dave's Cosmic Subs, according to city documents.
Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala credited city staff Wednesday for establishing the district and called it a crucial piece of downtown Kent's redevelopment.
"Thank you for another piece of the puzzle (with) the entertainment district," Fiala said.