Been a busy couple of weeks closing the first deal on the old hotel building, and then trying to quickly structure a re-sale of the property to Ron Burbick. Lots of work — but no complaints here, this is a problem that we’ve been waiting a long time to have.
With a story that is 30 years in the making, we knew there’d be a lot of local interest to see what’s behind those boarded up windows and brick walls, which is why we invited the media to go behind the curtain and join the members of City Council last week to walk thru the building.
The building and media didn’t disappoint. Curiousity drew a hearty crowd of media journalists, photographers and videographers — and the old hotel stayed in the headlines for about a week. The story even got picked up by some of the larger news search engines and I ended up getting comments from friends as far away as Virginia that congratulated Kent on moving forward with the old hotel (and suggested that I will never make facemasks a fashion statement).
For those that couldn’t join us, or had not come across the KentPatch video of the building walk thru (complements of Matt Fredmonsky), here’s your chance to get an inside peek: Old Hotel Tour Video Link
Standing in the building, stepping around holes in the floor, and seeing how the weight of some 90 years had caused many of the concrete floors to bow, it was evident that renovation of this building would not be for the faint of heart, with weak convictions, inexperience — or shallow pockets.
Which is why Mr. Burbick’s proposal to purchase the building from the City was such a welcomed offer. With a project as challenging as the renovation will prove to be, success is going to depend on the perfect fit between the owner and the community.
I have no doubt that this project will test Mr. Burbick’s patience like nothing else he’s done yet (and that says a lot because he’s done a lot) but being the astute person that he is, he already gets it, and he’s busy inviting the community to join him in resurrecting this structure.
It’s going to take a village to restore this building and Ron has put a call out to all of the villagers that have something to offer to help him return this building to its proper prominent place in downtown Kent. There’s a reason the building has been for sale for years — facing such large costs of restoration this building is going to be hard pressed to ever yield a business return on investment.
Ron is a successful business man, and he’s run the math too — which is why he’s not trying to pursue this as a profitable enterprise in the traditional business sense. He’s willing to take this project on as a community give-back; as a way of stepping in to fill a longtime need that if not met soon, would probably result in the loss of a significant local historic structure whose useful life has nearly run its course.
Ron’s committed to not making a penny of profit off this likely $4 million investment. After paying the bills, all proceeds will go into local community foundations and non-profit agencies in Kent and Portage County. That’s a gift that will keep on giving for decades to come.
The old hotel building is too important to Kent and Kent’s past, to not be part of it’s future — and that’s where Ron comes in. He wants to carry the torch but just like those Olympians, Ron needs some fellow torch-bearers.
Ron has already spent close to $15 million of his own retirement funds to redevelop downtown Kent and now he needs a little help from the community to finish what he started.
There’s no limits on the help he needs, from investors to brick masons and plumbers and contractors.
If you can help, you can reach Mr. Burbick through Main Street Kent at (330)677-8000.