Can Redevelopment Heal Kent's Old Wounds?
Five years after the tragic killing of four Kent State students during a Vietnam War protest created a cultural gulf between the university and town, a five-lane downtown bypass that cut off the campus from Kent’s center completed the divorce. Now, after four decades of strained relations, a $110 million mixed-use development in the city's center is providing the impetus for a "tight collaboration among the city, the university and private developers [that] is...helping heal the psychic wounds from a previous era that has hindered Kent’s development," writes Schneider.
"The project — a melding of more than 500,000 square feet of office, retail, residential and public spaces — is unfolding across a four-block, four-acre section of downtown. City and university leaders said the development, the largest downtown construction project in Kent’s 208-year history, will outfit the city with new destinations that suit contemporary lifestyles and spending patterns."
"The project will also shift the entertainment and business center a few blocks south from the city’s aging core and closer to Kent State University," adds Schneider. "The new office, retail, entertainment and residential spaces under construction are seen here as essential ingredients in a civic formula for attracting students and educated professionals, defining spending habits and rebranding Kent as a flourishing 21st-century college town."