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Some vacant property on East Main Street will soon feature baked treats instead of sun-baked asphalt.
Kent has issued a building permit for a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant planned at 525 E. Main St., which is located across from Kent State University at the site of a former Rich gas station that closed down in 2007.
Community Development Director Bridget Susel noted the establishment will be a little closer to the conglomeration of downtown Kent businesses compared with the recently opened Mary Ann Donuts shop located about a mile west at 1444 E. Main St.
"Main Street is populated with a lot of easy-entrance establishments, but we really did not have a specific doughnut restaurant anywhere in our downtown area," said Susel. "This Dunkin' Donuts will be in closer proximity to downtown campus, and I think it's going to do very well."
The 2,600-square-foot, two-story building is being designed by Kent architectural firm David Sommers and Associates and will be built by Doylestown-based contractor J Craddock Construction LLC.
Construction costs are estimated at $700,000, according to the building permit.
Elizabeth Eaken, project architect for David Sommers and Associates, said the restaurant will have an open second-floor mezzanine, which she said is an uncommon feature in most Dunkin' Donuts.
"We came up with that because of the small size of the site -- we needed to go vertical to get enough seating in there," Eaken said.
A property behind the former gas-station site at 114 University Drive, which currently features some commercial housing, was also purchased for the project.
Susel said that building will be torn down to create additional space for the business, noting she believes leases for tenants there expire in May. Eaken said that area, when cleared, will offer additional driveway/drive-through space, creating room for 11 parking spots on the property closest to Main Street.
The former gas station will be demolished as well. Underground gas tanks at the site have already been removed.
The front of the new Dunkin' Donuts will face University Drive, and there will be accesses on both University Drive and Main Street.
Eaken said the business will be operated by franchisee Ken Bloom.
According to Portage County property tax records, the Main Street and University Drive parcels are owned by Hinckley-based Ninth Brand Realty LLC. The 525 E. Main St. property was purchased in March for $200,000, and the 114 University Drive parcel was purchased in December for $155,000.
Susel said both parcels will need consolidated, and a site permit will need issued before physical work can begin -- Eaken said both those items are in the works, but a specific construction timeline hasn't been finalized.
"The construction start date is still undetermined, but should be in the next few weeks or so," she said. "It would be safe to say summer construction."
Susel said she's excited to see activity at the site, noting that redevelopment downtown has spurred new interest in other properties throughout Kent as a whole, particularly those in close proximity to downtown and the university.
"A lot of sites that have not garnered any interest before people are now looking at, which is great for us," she said. "Converting an under utilized, quite unattractive site to a viable economic project is something we welcome for sure."
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