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An incubator for culinary arts, apartments, shops and galleries were just some of the visions Kent State University students laid out for downtown Ravenna.
The interior design students, who graduated Saturday from KSU's College of Architecture and Design, took on downtown Ravenna as a master planning project, envisioning new uses for underutilized or vacant buildings in the county seat. Most proposals focused on the former Record-Courier press room, which most recently was a warehouse. Others incorporated the former Record-Courier office on North Chestnut Street, the neighboring DeLuca building at Chestnut and Cedar, and Riddle Block 9.
Professors Jen Roebuck, Mike Thomas and Cary Johnson worked with the students, taking them on a tour of all the buildings in February. The students also met with members of the fledgling Chestnut Grove Art District, who hope to set up an art district in the Chestnut Street corridor.
Thomas said many of the proposals went beyond arts to offer an arts and entertainment district, and Roebuck added that many included studio apartments and shopping into their proposals.
"People come to an art district to see art, but also to eat and spend their time," Roebuck said. "Sometimes what helps an art district is getting people to live there. A lot of our students go to Hudson, and Ravenna is just as close, but there's nothing there for them to do."
Service Director Don Kainrad noted that the art district will be given copies of all the proposals and decide which ones should be presented to developers.
"Theres a lot of great ideas here," she said.
Alex Schueszler presented a "culinary co-op" in the former press room, which she said builds upon Ravenna's rural atmosphere. A commercial kitchen would be available like an incubator for those who want a business making cottage goods but cannot afford a commercial kitchen of their own. A cafe and market would allow those people to offer their goods for sale, she said.
Hannah McCarney presented a vision of the DeLuca building, which offered modern studio apartments.
Nicole Galuschehik envisioned the former press room as "The Grove," offering food and retail inside the building. The proposal also includes a stage for performances. The former Record-Courier office and DeLuca buildings would be demolished to provide green space and pedestrian walkways.
"I'm trying to provide a place to hang out and feel comfortable," she said. "I feel like Ravenna has so much potential."
Emily Ober presented the former press room as The Grove, envisioning the space as a community center, a place for classes, concerts and weddings.
"I feel like Ravenna has a lot of magic to it," she said. "It's just not being showcased."
Mark Mistur, dean of the College of Architecture and Design, said the annual senior exhibits often showcase a new vision for a nearby community, such as Akron or Cleveland. He said he believes the projects may have raised the level of thinking in the community, helping leaders develop a new vision for their town.
"It takes sometimes an outsider to see a diamond in the rough," he said.