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  • Jordan D. Smith

Utility Work on Kent Street Ahead of Busy Summer of Construction

The 100 block of Kent Street in Portland is currently a construction zone.  Large holes and construction equipment have become a common sight.  That work is occurring in advance of a complete reconstruction of the road for two blocks of Kent St slated to start later this spring.  The current work by contractors for Consumers Energy is replacing gas mains in the area 

While construction this spring will involve the 100 and 200 block of Kent St the 200 block has more up to date gas lines and is not going to be replaced at this time.  According to Gorman, “...various excavation and compaction work in the area…” is a risk of damaging gas mains especially if the lines are older.   Doing so now will prevent the Kent Street project from being held up or delayed by problems with outdated gas lines in the area.  It will also reduce the chances of having to cut into the new road in the near future for gas main repairs. “Consumers is being proactive to replace the gas main…” says Gorman.

While gas main work is slated to wrap up by the end of February, construction is just beginning in the downtown area.  Gorman says that the City’s road reconstruction project is slated to begin in late April and wrap up in November.  In addition to road and sidewalk replacement, that project will replace sanitary and storm sewers, water lines, as well as electric and broadband utilities. While the installation of fiber optic internet service by Tri County Homeworks is ongoing, if the installation does not reach Kent St. by that time, Gorman says that conduit will be installed to run fiber optic lines at the same time the road is dug up.  

In addition to road and utility work, the downtown will also see demolition of the building at the intersection of Kent St. and Grand River Ave owned by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA)  That property overlooking the Looking Glass River will be the site of a new community square type space.   “There will be a whole new view where Kent St meets Grand River Ave,” says DDA director Tina Connor Wellman.

At the same time, Tim Fuller, owner of the Opera Block Properties on Kent St. tells the Beacon that long awaited facade improvements to his properties are planned for this summer when the area is already under construction to avoid further disruption.  While work on the redevelopment of the long vacant properties on Kent St. have been mostly inside, Fuller recently opened the 118 Proof speakeasy bar.  Adjoining properties will be home to a restaurant and another bar in the future complete with river front seating.  His property also includes the eventual restoration of the iconic opera house to a functional theater and event venue. 

As Connor Wellman put it, “it will be a long, challenging and unattractive year getting there, but the results will be transformative and poise the community for future growth.” 


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