Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.
Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.
<p>Partners in the downtown Kent redevelopment project, including Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton, along with elected officials gathered Aug. 9 for a groundbreaking ceremony. The $100 million facelift to downtown Kent represents a unique public-private partnership.<br /> </p>

Partners in the downtown Kent redevelopment project, including Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton, along with elected officials gathered Aug. 9 for a groundbreaking ceremony. The $100 million facelift to downtown Kent represents a unique public-private partnership.

Karl Warnke, chairman, president and CEO of the Davey Tree Expert Company, shakes hands with Dan Smith, economic development director for the city of Kent.
Karl Warnke, chairman, president and CEO of the Davey Tree Expert Company, shakes hands with Dan Smith, economic development director for the city of Kent.
<p>Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.<br /> </p>

Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.

  • Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.
  • <p>Partners in the downtown Kent redevelopment project, including Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton, along with elected officials gathered Aug. 9 for a groundbreaking ceremony. The $100 million facelift to downtown Kent represents a unique public-private partnership.<br /> </p>
  • Karl Warnke, chairman, president and CEO of the Davey Tree Expert Company, shakes hands with Dan Smith, economic development director for the city of Kent.
  • <p>Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala speaks during the Aug. 9 groundbreaking ceremony.<br /> </p>

Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton joined representatives from the city of Kent, Portage County, Congressman Tim Ryan’s office and other project partners for a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 9 celebrating the start of Fairmount Properties mixed-use portion of downtown Kent’s new $100 million redevelopment project.

Fairmount Properties with its partners Premier Development Partners LLC and BUD Kent LLC, along with members of the Kent community, marked the beginning of construction of a 185,000 square- foot development which will house the offices of the Davey Tree Resource Group, Ametek, Inc. and a number of new retailers and restaurants. The group gathered at the corner of Erie and South Water streets to celebrate the start of construction of the unprecedented collaborative effort.

Randy Ruttenberg, principal of Cleveland’s Fairmount Properties, praised Lefton for his unwavering support and brilliant, visionary leadership that played a critical role in moving the development forward.

“President Lefton has elevated the school to a place it has never seen, whether it be record enrollments, fundraising or cutting-edge programming,” Ruttenberg added.

In welcoming Lefton to the podium, Ruttenberg thanked him for his unwavering support of the project.

“We have become a family in a way that we’ve never been before,” Lefton said. “That’s something new in the city of Kent in terms of town-gown relationships. We have forged a real public-private, city-university partnership - with private developers, with private business, with the city and with our friends in Washington. This has just been terrific.”

Pat Lowry, director of outreach and special projects for Rep. Tim Ryan, said public-private projects are the way of the future. “We can point to projects like this and say this is good government and it does work,” Lowry said.  Several speakers lauded Ryan for his work in securing a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for PARTA’s new Kent Central Gateway facility, a key catalyst for the downtown Kent redevelopment project.

Other speakers included Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala, Portage County Commissioner Maureen Frederick,
Davey Tree President and CEO Karl Warnke and Matt French, Ametek vice president and general manager.

Kent State’s extension of the University Esplanade will offer a vital connection between the university and the new downtown projects and was critical to securing commitments from developers and financial institutions. The extension of the University Esplanade will strengthen the ties between the university and the city by providing a physical link, offering students with a safe pathway to visit, enjoy and patronize downtown Kent and its businesses as well as connecting residents and visitors to the Kent State campus.

Tenants for the Fairmount Properties development include Aladdin’s, Bricco, Dave’s Cosmic Subs, Einstein’s Bros. Bagels, Palmieri Salon, Panini’s Bar and Grill and Yogurt Vi. The first building in the Fairmount project is slated to open in late 2012.

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