Campus Report

Village of Gambier Revitalization

Office of Communications
March 21, 2016

The revitalization of the village of Gambier in the spirit of the 2020 Strategic Plan is on track to begin this summer, pending the approval of construction plans by the Kenyon College Board of Trustees and village of Gambier officials.

Three townhouses, which will match the architectural design of the North Campus Apartments, and the green space that will cradle them are planned for the Brooklyn Street lot that once held the Gambier Grill and the small Student Activities Office building. The year-long construction is expected to begin in July and provide homes for 24 students.

With board and village approval, the College will begin work this summer on a new home for the Village Market, after the demolition of what is colloquially known as the "old bank building" and is home to the Black Box Theater, 111 Chase Ave. The College is working closely with the Department of Dance, Drama and Film faculty and students to find a proper new home for the theater to better serve the community in the next academic year.

Gambier has approved the demolition, and the College is working with the village to deal with zoning variances regarding the size and height of the building and boundary setbacks. Construction of the 8,500-square-foot building with the market on the first floor and three apartments for 16 students on the second floor is projected to be completed by the fall of 2017.

"These projects will improve the quality of life for Kenyon students and employees as well as village residents," President Sean Decatur said. "A priority in our strategic plan is the strengthening of our community, and that includes developing lifelong ties within the Kenyon family and being a good neighbor to our friends in the village and the broader local community. And creating an improved space for the Black Box Theater is important to me and our faculty."

New student residences in the village are expected to include theme housing to welcome students living in the Snowden Multicultural Center, 211 Chase Ave., and the Unity House, in the North Campus Apartments, closer to the center of campus.

"We believe strongly in being a conscientious steward of our buildings and property,” Decatur said. “Attractive, environmentally friendly housing and a fresh retail environment will create a promising future for the village."

The old bank building dates to 1905 and has some accessibility issues. Peoples Bank moved from the building to 103 E. Wiggin St. in 1998. The College bought the building that year and it has served variously as the home of the Office of Human Resources and Student Accessibility and Support Services.

The owners of the Village Market, 112 Gaskin Ave., are enthused about the proposed building. "This is a great opportunity for us to look to the future of the market and how it will best serve the community," said Jeffrey Newton '72, co-owner of the market with his husband, Robin Wheatley. "We will not really change anything except the location, but this does give us a chance to think about introducing some new products. We’re always open to hearing from our very loyal customers about what type of products to carry."

Newton grew up in the Gambier area, has many relatives in Knox County and visits often from his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home. "The Gambier community has been part of my life forever,' Newton said. His brother Tim is the market general manager.

"It’s exciting," Tim Newton said of plans to move the market. "With the communication we have with Kenyon, I really couldn’t picture a better working relationship. It will still be the Village Market in the village of Gambier. This will still be a full-service grocery and deli, and we’ll still have the Market Dogs."

Food and other products will be delivered through a rear door from delivery trucks parked on Brooklyn Street, instead of through the front door of the current location from trucks parked mostly on Gaskin Avenue. Best placement of benches and perhaps tables outside the market is being considered.