In response to the Downtown Redevelopment RFQ, the City received submissions from three development companies. The companies include Fairmount Properties (out of Cleveland), Cambridge Venture Partners (out of Pittsburgh) with Portage Venture LLC (out of Kent) and Testa Properties (out of Akron). Each of these firms are established and successful developers who have specialties and expertise that they bring to the Kent project — which is great. The question now is — which firm provides the best fit and which firm would make the best partner? To help answer that question we’re putting together a Stakeholder Review Team who will interview the firms, evaluate the RFQ submissions and make a recommendation to City Council on how to keep the downtown redevelopment project rolling forward.
At the last City Council Committee meeting we talked about the process options for the review/evaluation of the 3 RFQ redevelopment submissions. From that discussion, it appeared that Council preferred to have me work with a small stakeholder group to review the submissions and make a recommendation for Council to consider in selecting our development partner.
If one firm stands out above the others for experience and capabilities then that recommendation would likely be to begin working with that partner to design the project and develop the financials that we will need to negotiate in a development agreement.
If two or all three firms are too close in experience and capabilities to make a recommendation solely based on those critieria, I would think the stakeholder team would recommend asking the firms to start working on design and cost elements so that a leading partner could be identified through that process.
In an email this week, I offered Council the following recommendation for the composition of the reveiw team.
Possible Stakeholder Review Team:
(1) Representative from Main Street Kent
(1) Representative from the Downtown Kent Corporation
(1) Representative from the Chamber of Commerce
(1) Representative from the Environmental Council
(1) Representative from Kent State University
(1) City Council Representative
(2) City Staff (City Manager, Development Director)
Council members have been offering their thoughts and suggestions to this list but overall it appears that Council thinks this is a good start. My next step will be contacting the respective organizations and finding a representative to serve on the team. I’m hoping to have that done by January 31st so that we can start convening the Stakeholder Team in February.
Once we bring the Team together I suspect one of the first things we’ll do will be to invite the prospective development partners in to meet with us and review their RFQ submissions with us. Experience and credentials are critical but so is chemistry so I think it would be good to have the Team members get a chance to meet with the development partners in person which I hope we can get done in the first couple of weeks in February.
Looking down the road, here’s my working draft of a timeline for the redevelopment project that I thought might be worth sharing.