Kent Council approves sale of Lake Street brownfield to global floral firm

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

A worldwide floral firm with Kent roots is one step closer to major growth within the city. Kent City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the sale of the former Ametek site on Lake Street to Smithers-Oasis for redevelopment.

Smithers-Oasis, which was founded in Kent in 1954, develops and manufactures water absorbent floral foam, floral accessories and more. In 1992, its corporate headquarters relocated to Cuyahoga Falls, but the firm has maintained and recently invested in a research and development facility on Marvin Street in Kent, adjacent to the former Ametek site at 627 Lake St.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said Smithers-Oasis is ready to return its corporate offices to Kent by the end of the month. It will move to the second floor of the Fairmount Properties-run building downtown that also houses the Davey Resource Group and several other retail and restaurant establishments, he said.

Ruller said Smithers-Oasis also showed interest in purchasing the former Ametek site from the city. The city purchased the Lake Street site and agreed to clean it up during negotiating Ametek's relocation to a new building downtown.

In the agreement approved by council Wednesday, Kent will sell the industrial site to Smithers-Oasis, after it is cleaned up, for $120,000. If no redevelopment effort is made by May 1, 2020, Kent will have the opportunity to buy back the site at the same price.

In May 2012, Kent was awarded $1 million in Clean Ohio Revitalization Funds to remediate the land, which includes demolition of the current structure.

"For us, the value isn't in the sale of the property, as much as it is in the long-term growth in jobs," Ruller said. "We can't think of a better company to partner with and see that happen."

Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith said Smithers-Oasis' plans are "multi-faceted" and are still in negotiation, but all will be unveiled during a Sept. 23 press conference in the firm's new downtown Kent corporate headquarters.

"Lake Street is part of a bigger plan we're hoping to finish up in the very near future," Smith said.

Smith said a "state-of-the-art" manufacturing facility is planned to replace the former Ametek site, and renderings will be available for the public to see at the Sept. 23 event.

"I think it's going to be great for the city," Smith said. "It's a win-win-win, taking care of an old manufacturing site, putting a third corporate anchor tenant in downtown Kent and it's also allowing them to grow and even have room to grow further over the next 20 years."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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