Co-working space and wellness center that sparked controversy in Kent are for sale

Image of adjoining commercial block buildings in downtown Kent, Ohio
Wendy DiAlesandro/The Portager

Three years after dreaming of a welcoming co-working space for area entrepreneurs, Kent landowner Valerie Landis is selling her properties at 108 and 122 W. College St.

No asking price is listed, and Landis declined to specify. An ad on LoopNet directs all inquiries to her cell phone.

Landis bought 108 W. College St., a 6,300-square-feet, two-story building for $525,000 in June 2020, according to records at the Portage County Auditor’s office. The sale included a small parking area bordering South Water Street.

Landis said she envisioned a community center/flea market concept on the first floor and co-working, commercial kitchen, and photography and recording studio spaces on the second floor. 

Now, prospective buyers could also find themselves in possession of a liquor license and full architectural plans, Landis said.

She said the reason she is selling is because she has accepted out-of-state employment. 

“It is disappointing to leave the project before getting to the finish line,” Landis said. “I am confident we can find a new owner that can embrace and bring the new business concept to Kent for all the city to enjoy. I’m passing the torch to the next owner to build their dream.”

The property two doors down, 122 W. College St., which records show Landis bought in 2021 for $297,000, has 5,400 square feet split between two stories.

Landis opened Galerie in 122 W. College St. in 2022, envisioning it as a high-end wellness center featuring indoor fitness classes, yoga, reiki, sound baths, meditation classes and a number of other workshops.

Between the two properties is 112 W. College St., which is owned by the Kent Canadian Club. The fraternal organization operates on the first floor of the building. Landis said she has a long-term lease for the second floor, and anyone interested in that space would have to negotiate a new lease with the owner.

All three properties, which Landis describes as move-in ready, are connected by the second floor. She said the spaces could be used for a long list of possible establishments: as a community center, retail shop, flex-warehouse, creative office, office space, storage, manufacturing, storefront, cafe, restaurant, speakeasy, bar, commercial kitchen, nightclub, event center, health club, co-working hub, gallery or wedding venue.

After purchasing the properties, Landis ran afoul of Kent’s Architectural Review Board when she painted the three connected buildings dark gray and installed signage the panel had not approved. A back-and-forth between city leaders over the ARB’s purview resulted in city council’s first and only override of an ARB ruling, and prompted the city to hire a consultant to examine city codes and policy.

That process is still underway.

The City of Kent lists all three properties as being located in its commercial downtown zoning district, which allows a wide range of permitted and conditional uses.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.