Pathway that connects Kent State University to downtown Kent is latest road to economic boom

University esplanade named for KSU president

KENT, Ohio - What many considered a college and a town is now being referred to as "a college town" after the dedication of a pathway that connects Kent State University to downtown Kent.

On Friday afternoon, the Kent State University Esplanade near Main and Willow streets was dedicated. It was revealed that the pathway will be named the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade, honoring Kent State President Lefton.

Last spring, Lefton announced he will retire from the presidency of Kent State, effective July 1, 2014.

"There could not be a more fitting tribute to President Lefton than naming the esplanade, which now physically and symbolically connects town and gown, in his honor," said Jane Murphy Timken, chair of the Kent State Board of Trustees.

The path is built around economic development that has transformed Kent in recent years.

It's considered a vital connection to PARTA's new Kent Central Gateway multimodal transit center, private developments from Acorn Alley and Fairmount Properties, and the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center.

The resurgence of the area started when private investor, Ron Burbick, decided to start investing in the downtown area because he didn't like what he saw.

"It was almost like a ghost town because there was nothing to do in Kent. Unless you wanted a beer or a tattoo, you were pretty much out of luck," Burbick said.

He would eventually spent $22 million developing Acorn Alley. There have been three phases of the project and 38 businesses are now tenants there.

"There's probably $20 million in revenue that's being spent in Kent that wouldn't have been spent before," Burbick added.

Gwen Rosenberg owns Popped, a gourmet popcorn shop, and said her business has been bursting. She's considering further expansion.

"I really do believe I am the beneficiary of a lot people's hard work over the last couple of decades," Rosenberg said.

Lefton pointed out that $130 million was spent through a public-private partnership to jumpstart the major development.

He called the esplanade "the special sauce" that links the city to the university.

"What he did is we purchased a bunch of land in between the city and the university, demolished a lot of rundown old homes and turned it into a beautiful park-like area," Lefton said.

Lefton said negotiations are on-going with developers for other possible projects, including high-end supermarkets and movie theaters.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

More Kent State Stories

Kent State student, football player Jason Bitsko dies unexpectedly Kent State student, football player Jason Bitsko dies unexpectedly

A Kent State University student and athlete, Jason Bitsko, was found dead in his off-campus apartment Wednesday.

Kent State eliminated from NCAA Baseball tournament with loss to Kentucky Kent State eliminated from NCAA Baseball tournament with loss to Kentucky

Through 8.2 innings, Kent State looked to stay alive in NCAA Regional play behind an incredible pitching performance from starter Nick Jensen-Clagg. However, Kentucky clawed its way back in to score four runs in the 9th inning to take the game 4-2 and end the Golden Flashes' season in dramatic fashion.

 

Funkhouser pitches Louisville past Kent St. 5-0 Funkhouser pitches Louisville past Kent St. 5-0

Kyle Funkhouser struck out 10 in eight shutout innings as Louisville topped Kent State 5-0 on Friday night in an NCAA regional game.

Dean of students at Kent State University upholds 3-year suspension of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity Dean of students at Kent State University upholds 3-year suspension of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity

On Wednesday the Dean of Students at Kent State University upheld the three year suspension of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.

 
White edges Blue 21-20 in spring game White edges Blue 21-20 in spring game

An extra point by April Goss on the final play capped a 21-20 comeback win for Kent State's White team over the Blue team in an entertaining Spring Football Game on Saturday afternoon at Dix Stadium. 

 

 

Kent State falls to Miami on the road 71-64 Kent State falls to Miami on the road 71-64

Willie Moore scored 17 points and eighth-seeded Miami (Ohio) held off ninth-seeded Kent State in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Monday.

 

Miami beats Kent State Miami beats Kent State

Will Felder scored 26 points and Miami (Ohio) used a big first half to take down Kent State 73-61 on Tuesday.

 

 

 

Kent State Kent State's 'Golden Flash' Dri Archer opens eyes at NFL Combine

Kent State graduate Dri Archer turned the heads with football scouts at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.  

Kent State falls at Toledo 81-78 Kent State falls at Toledo 81-78

Justin Drummond scored 15 points, six in the final 4 minutes, as Toledo beat Kent State 81-78 on Sunday.

 

Kent State selects Beverly J. Warren as 12th president, succeeding Lester A. Leftfon Kent State selects Beverly J. Warren as 12th president, succeeding Lester A. Leftfon

There will soon be a new president at northeast Ohio's largest university.