The former Portage County Municipal Court located in downtown Kent is officially for sale.
Monday, January 12th, the City’s Economic Development Director put the finishing touches on the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the sale of the former muni-court building that has been vacant for about 6 months since the County completed their relocation to the new court building at the top of the hill on Main Street in downtown Kent.
The RFP asks for interested developers to submit a purchase price and a proposal for how they intend to re-use the building. The City staff will review the submissions in March and rank them for City Council’s consideration based on the price, how well their proposed re-use fits in downtown Kent, their financial capabilities to pull off a project of this size, and their experience with projects like this.
City Council isn’t obligated to accept any of the deals that get proposed from the RFP but this is a great way for Council to test the market and hopefully find another project that will complement and add to the vibrancy of downtown Kent.
Council purchased the former courthouse before most of the downtown commercial revitalization had started so at that time Council was very anxious to sell the building for new commercial use as quickly as possible once the County moved out.
By the time the County built their new building and moved out in 2014 the downtown commercial redevelopment was in high gear so other than wanting to pay off the debt that the City used to buy the building as soon as possible, there’s less urgency to sell it to the first warm bodied bidder that comes along.
City Council can be more selective and be sure that the proposed buyer will take care of the building and integrate it back into Kent’s vibrant downtown business scene.
When Council agreed to purchase the building from the County it was predicated on restoring the historic building for re-purposing — not demolition.
This 1930’s era WPA (former post office and county courthouse) building has too much history to lose so Council was willing to work a deal where the City bought the land for the new court building and then traded that land with the County to acquire the old courthouse building in exchange.
The County ended up with a beautiful new muni-court building that sits prominently at the crest of the Main Street hill — and the City ended up being able to replace the old dilapidated Kent motel with a great new court building, add more free parking public parking lots, and take over a building that we hope has potential great upside for redevelopment.
The RFP should give us some insight into what comes next for this classic courthouse building.