Signet Real Estate Group to bring creativity in both design and function to KSU’s planned new College of Business Administration

A mock trading floor and a 400-seat theater are among features of a proposed glass-walled $72.9 million College of Business Administration building at Kent State University.

The building will be the most prominent part of the first phase of the university’s $1 billion-plus, 10-year campus transformation plan that KSU trustees approved this year.

The building will be constructed off East Main Street in the Front Campus area. It will include a gateway, green spaces and a parking deck.

Signet Real Estate Group of Akron won a preliminary design competition for the building and will oversee the formal design phase.

KSU trustees have approved spending $3.2 million on this design phase, which will end next summer.

Construction is expected to begin next summer and be completed in time for fall semester 2021 classes, Michael E. Bruder, KSU executive director of facilities planning and operations, said last week.

The plan, though not yet finalized, is for Signet’s team to also manage construction, Bruder said. The group is developing financing options to offset project costs.

KSU officials have said that one possibility is having the developer foot the bill for the cost of the building and then lease the property back to the university.

Private contributions, with donors contributing money for naming rights, also will be part of the funding mix.

Deborah F. Spake, the dean of the KSU College of Business Administration, said all four designs submitted for the competition “were beautiful.” Signet, she said, “presented the best package,” including preliminary information on financing options.

The Signet design, she said, “will allow us to really reflect forward thinking, best practices business education from a technology standpoint as well as a space standpoint.”

The $72.9 million projected cost of the building includes fixtures and equipment.

Kent State officials has said earlier they are not planning to issue bonds to finance the first phase of the $1 billion “Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State” $1.2 billion master plan.

Contributions and public-private partnerships are to fund more than half the projected $127.4 million cost of the first phase.

Signet Real Estate Group, a part of the Akron-headquartered Signet LLC private investment company, has focused on campus housing, medical facilities and public-private partnerships. Crain’s Cleveland Business reported last fall that its real estate portfolio totaled about $4.5 billion.

Its projects include student housing and an education and wellness center at the Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown Township and student housing at the University of Akron (Honors Residence Hall, Exchange Street Residence), University of Florida and Delta State University in Mississippi.

Signet has assembled a team of experienced professionals to assist in the delivery of the new College of Business including a design team of Perkins + Will and the Collaborative Inc., a construction team of Turner Construction and Ozanne Construction and an engineer team of Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, Barber Hoffman and CESO.

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