Developer Ron Burbick's transformation of the old Kent Hotel is nearly complete.
Burbick said Tuesday he expects first- floor tenant Buffalo Wild Wings to be training employees in the building within two weeks, with the restaurant's opening day set for April 1. A grand opening ceremony for the long-vacant building, which will also house the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Marathon Financial and two floors of apartments, has been tentatively scheduled for April 24.
The Acorn Alley developer bought the property at the corner of Main and DePeyster streets from the city of Kent in early November 2011, just weeks after the city bought the property from its previous owner, Gregg Vilk. Burbick promised a brisk turnaround on the redevelopment of the hotel, which he renamed Acorn Corner, originally hoping to open by the end of 2012.
Burbick said the basement, which was previously set to house a bookstore and a bicycle shop at different points in the project's history, will instead house a jazz and wine bar known as "the Secret Cellar."
"We'll be signing the papers on that in a week or so, but it's pretty much a done deal," Burbick said
Kent's Architectural Review Board met Tuesday to review the sign package for the renovated building.
The building's largest sign, which will feature the Acorn Corner name as well as the building's original name, the Hotel Franklin, will be painted on the structure's west side facing Acorn Alley. Burbick, who has received almost $2 million in tax credits from the state for the historic restoration project, said the painted sign has been mandated by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. "That is required by the historical people," Burbick said. "That building has always had a painted sign on the side of the building."
Burbick said the rest of the building will have minimal signage.
Glen Dreyer, member of the Architectural Review Board, said he was surprised the state gives such strict guidelines to developers reviving historic properties, adding that he was not sure he liked such a large painted sign.
"I can't believe the historical society in Columbus is so one-note," he said.
Burbick said the state guidelines he has to follow during the redevelopment become void five years after the renovation work is complete.
"At the end of five years, all bets are off," Burbick said. "Five years and one day, we can do whatever we want."
He said he could potentially see changing or removing the painted sign and adding additional windows to the building after the first five years.
The board unanimously approved the sign plan for the project.
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