PARTA and dignitaries to celebrate opening of Kent Central Gateway Monday (with gallery)

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

The Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority will mark Monday with a grand opening celebration of the Kent Central Gateway, the new parking, retail and transit hub facility in downtown Kent.

Several national, regional and community officials will be in attendance including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Kent City Manager Dave Ruller, Acorn Alley developer Ron Burbick, and representatives from Kent State University, Sen. Sherrod Brown's office, PARTA, Kent City Council, the Federal Transit Administration, Fairmount Properties and The Pizzuti Companies.

The event lasts from 1 to 4 p.m. Guided tours through the facility, which is located at DePeyster and Erie streets in Kent, will be offered from 1 to 2 p.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. A formal program with a ribbon cutting and brief presentations will begin at 2 p.m.

"It's an exciting time," said Frank Hairston, director of marketing at PARTA. "It's a very impressive structure and it's very large for Portage County. I think that there's a big plus in it for the community as a whole and Portage County."

Beginning Aug. 12, all of PARTA's bus routes will run through the Kent Central Gateway.

The $20 million federal stimulus TIGER grant has repeatedly been recognized by Kent officials as the leverage for creating the redevelopment boom in downtown Kent, with multiple projects totaling about $125 million in investment to the area.

"If it wasn't for the TIGER grant, I doubt if very much would be going on except for what Mr. Burbick has done with Acorn Alley," Hairston said. "We're talking about a hotel and conference center, restaurants, stores, the central gateway, about 266 construction jobs and the possibility of almost 700 full- and part-time jobs. That's big not only for Kent, PARTA and Kent State, but for Portage County as a whole."

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