We took a big step this week towards revitalizing downtown Kent. On Monday we advertised a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) inviting developers to join us as a partner for redeveloping a 3 acre block in downtown Kent. This time we’re being very selective in seeking a development partner. We’re using a competitive process to be sure Kent gets an exceptional developer. There’s been plenty of studies, talk and dreaming about what could be downtown, now we’re going to take real, and deliberate steps forward to making it happen.
After a couple of months of researching, writing and editing, I am pleased to announce that we have the downtown redevelopment Request for Qualifications (RFQ) officially advertised. The staff advertised the project in the newspapers and trade journals within Northeast Ohio and nationally.
The purpose of the RFQ is to attract quality developers that have experience working in a university community like Kent and have a track record of delivering a first rate redevelopment project. From this process I hope to identify a short list of possible development partners to bring to City Council for their consideration in January. If we find the partner we’re looking for, we can then begin to negotiate the details of a development agreement.
As you read through the RFQ, you will find that general project concepts and goals are presented in order to provide some guidance to developers regarding the City’s and community’s expectations. With few exceptions, that information was excerpted from existing documents, e.g., Bicentennial Plan, City’s Sustainability Goals, etc., so that we can be sure that this project is consistent with all the good planning work that has preceded it.
The RFQ is careful to not commit the City to any particular course of action or public contribution at this time, as that will be a matter for Council discussion in the context of a future development agreement. We worked hard to balance the need to give prospective developers some sense of City’s desires for the project without committing City resources or approvals to any particular position, and I hope we’ve accomplished that to Council’s and the developer’s satisfaction. If not, we can certainly issue amendments to the RFQ to better clarify any particular points.
In preparing the RFQ and assembling all of the information about Kent I was reminded of how many exciting things we have happening in our community. I expect developers will share in that observation and be very interested in submitting a statement of qualifications.
Here’s the cover letter that went out to the developers with the RFQ notice:
I am pleased to invite you to participate in a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for an exciting redevelopment project in downtown Kent, Ohio. The purpose of the RFQ is to give developers a chance to formally express their interest to partner with the City and demonstrate their expertise in leading a signature redevelopment project in a university city.
Less than ½ mile separates Kent State University’s 23,000 students from historic downtown Kent’s arts, entertainment and business district. In between, at the crossroads of two of the most traveled state routes in Portage County, lies the City redevelopment site. All that is missing is the right partner to help us transform the site into the kind of destination that the City and the Kent community know it can be.
The project promises an eclectic mix of commercial retail, office, residential and restaurant uses as well as the development of a new hotel / conference center that when thoughtfully integrated with existing downtown businesses and adjacent neighborhoods creates the kind synergy and vibrancy that has made university cities such an attractive investment option.
I hope that you will take the opportunity to call for a full copy of the RFQ package and consider submitting your Statement of Qualifications for this project. The package may be obtained by contacting:
City of Kent
215 East Summit Street , Kent, Ohio 44240
Submittals will be received until 11:00 AM on December 21, 2007. For questions or inquiries, contact Suzanne Robertson in the City Manager’s Office at the above address, phone number or email.
Kent , Ohio