Kent’s skyline is set to become a little more distinct as two six-story buildings get closer to construction. The buildings, which are planned for adjacent sites on Franklin Avenue, will include apartments and businesses, continuing the redevelopment of downtown.
On the corner of Franklin and Erie, construction could begin within four weeks on the first building, said Kent Community Development Director Bridget Susel. The building’s site plans and technical drawings must first be reviewed by the city for building code compliance.
Susel said that building — known as “Hasawi’s” after Badreeyeh Alhasawi, who owns the corporation that owns the property — will be mixed-use.
“The first floor will include a Mediterranean bakery and a cafe. The second floor will have a higher-end restaurant,” she said. “And above those two commercial spaces there’s going to be 16 residential units. They’re going to be high-end luxury.”
Those apartments will have an average of 1,600 square feet of living space and window views of downtown or the Cuyahoga River.
The Hasawi’s site previously housed a two-story building that included an apartment and two business spaces, most recently Ramella’s Pizzeria and Mugs Brew Pub. Before he was famous, Black Keys vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach played regular shows with the Patrick Sweany Band in Mugs. That building fell into disrepair and was demolished in May to make room for the six-story property.
On the adjacent site, the planning process is ongoing for another six-story building — called the West End — which will replace a former Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. Susel said the restaurant has been vacant since 2010 or 2011.
“It is a mix of micro-units… and then one-bedroom studio apartments, and then a couple of one-bedroom full apartments” she said, adding that there will be between 60 and 65 total units.
The West End’s developer, Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties, is responsible for four other downtown buildings, including the Ametek building and the Davey building. The Record-Courier reported that Fairmount’s principal Randy Ruttenberg said the building is the company’s “final piece” in downtown Kent.
The West End will go before Kent’s planning commission for site plan approval and review in October. If the plans are approved, demolition will begin on the property shortly afterward.
Fairmount Properties initially presented renderings of their building plans to Kent’s architectural review board in August, seeking comments on its appearance. Members of the board expressed concern that the building’s dark exterior wouldn’t fit in with its surroundings. Fairmount updated their plans, and the board issued a “certificate of appropriateness” in early September.
Kevin Koogle, a member of the Architectural Review Board, said the changes will help the building fit in better with its surroundings.
“It’s more in keeping with the context of the downtown in that it is more of a red colored brick, more of a rust colored brick,” Koogle said. “The first submittal that they had, it was a dark gray, and it just was not attractive.”
Neither of the new constructions will affect the free parking lot on Franklin Avenue.
The Kent Area Chamber of Commerce is optimistic that the buildings will boost revenue at downtown businesses. Lori Wemhoff, the Chamber’s executive director, wrote in an email that area businesses will experience “immeasurable” benefits from residents of the new apartments.
“More people living in the downtown means more business opportunities for the restaurants and retail businesses that call downtown Kent home,” she wrote. “Residents will be in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the many events held in downtown Kent throughout the year. They will have a plethora of choices when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner – something for everyone and everyone’s taste.”