Downtown Kent, which has been winding down its $100 million makeover, will probably start up the earthmovers again in the next couple of months.
A development officials refer to as “Building C” has one more paper hurdle before construction begins on the five-story structure which will feature 32 apartments and a new Bricco restaurant.
The Kent Architectural Review Board gave its approval last week, leaving only a final look by the Kent Planning Commission on Dec. 18.
If weather cooperates, ground could be broken in January, Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith said.
The “somewhat upscale” apartments in Building C and four more on the upper floors of Acorn Corner — the former historic hotel currently being renovated — will be the only housing units downtown, Smith said.
“We think there is an incredible amount of interest in living in the new district because of the amount of amenities,” Smith said.
Downtown has added more than a dozen new restaurants to downtown in the past few years, as well as new retailers. The city has demolished and rebuilt entire downtown blocks.
Building C will sit on DePeyster Street, directly across from the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center and diagonal to the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority’s new transit center. It will be managed by Fairmount Properties, the private company that developed the new retail and office spaces on South Water Street.
Smith said Bricco has already signed a lease for the 7,000-square-foot ground floor.
The apartments above it will be one- and two-bedroom units that are “not traditional student housing,” Smith said. “It shouldn’t be hard to attract tenants.’’
The goal is to finish the lower floor for Bricco by next fall and open the apartments in the spring of 2014.
Meanwhile, Acorn Corner expects the restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings to open on its lower floor in March, with apartments ready soon after, Smith said.
Having people staying downtown — both living in the apartments and visiting at KSU’s hotel — will complete a synergy that officials have envisioned. Residential units support businesses, and quality businesses support the desire for housing.
“There are many pieces to the puzzle and they are all interconnected and feed off each other,” Smith said.
The city has one more piece of property it hopes to develop downtown, at the corner of Haymaker and Depeyster streets. Smith envisions a mix of office and retail, but no plans have been made.
“We’re still having conversations and entertaining a variety of uses for that,” he said.