Kent mill owner is working with an engineer to save the Water Street facade

Photo courtesy of the Kent Historical Society

The historic Kent mill, devastated by a Dec. 2 fire, may not be a total loss.

The owners of the building have hired a historical structural engineer to work out what can be rebuilt and what needs to come down, even temporarily, the owner’s lawyer said.

The building is owned by a company called The Tulips, based in Kent, and operated by Badreeyeh Alhasawi. Her attorney is Jason Whitacre of Kent. 

“I think there’s a strong preference for them to preserve that Water Street facade, but that’s obviously going to be up to the structural engineer to tell them what they can and can’t do, so they’re going to do everything they can to follow that firm’s advice,” Whitacre said. “That process is working itself out.”

Whitacre declined to name the structural engineer or the firm Alhasawi has hired. Nor could he provide a date as to when answers may be available. 

City Community Development Director Bridget Susel said work is ongoing and that the fencing blocking part of North Water Street should be removed by year’s end, reopening the road to north and southbound traffic.

To date, no redevelopment proposals for the mill have been submitted to the city, Susel said, adding that it will likely take several months until fire inspectors complete their work.

“With a building of this age and magnitude, there’s a lot of professionals involved,” Whitacre said. “Between the city and my client, I expect that they’re allowing those professionals to do their job. As soon as they start to get word, then they can start to make whatever plans they need to make.”

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