Downtown Kent’s revitalization made a big splash in the local, regional and even national news media and we want to keep that buzz coming because a strong downtown is capable of strapping all Kent’s neighborhoods on its back and lifting them up too.
The downtown may have been Kent’s biggest transformation story but it wasn’t the first. The West River Neighborhood revitalization pre-dates the downtown by about 10 years and maybe it didn’t have the same “super-wow” factor as the downtown it had plenty of “wow” and more importantly it was instrumental in showing how the City, with a few strategic investments, can be a catalyst for redevelopment.
The lessons learned from the West River project set the stage for downtown work. We saw how land banking can work to remove longstanding eyesores and attract new investment.
We got some practice with our economic development tools and brokering deals with private developers. Those were skills we leaned heavy-on for the downtown project.
Don’t get me wrong, the West River Project was not just a test-run — it was the real deal that led to a hundred or so new jobs and significantly improved an important part of the Kent community that had been struggling.
See for yourself.