KENT — The city got a look Wednesday at renderings of Kent State University’s preliminary plans to improve the East Main Street Corridor.

Michael Bruder, KSU executive director of facilities, planning and design, presented 3-D pictures and video of the concept. The project is the first phase in the university’s 10-year master plan, Bruder said.

Three of the largest components of the phase are turning Midway Drive and East Main into the central vehicular entrance to campus; constructing a new college of business with a parking deck to remove surface parking; and replacing asphalt with green space — giving the area a parklike feel.

“We’re looking to extend the beauty of front campus down the entire East Main Street Corridor, all the way down to Horning Road so that we have that mature tree canopy and lawn throughout,” Bruder said.

The concept includes realigning Terrace Drive. Currently, it bends to the left and leads out to East Main. However, it’s planned to be relocated to connect back to Midway Drive, Bruder said.

Jim Bowling, the superintendent of engineering of Kent, said the designs shown are not final but could become so.

Bruder said the university hopes to break ground on the new college of business by early fall so it can open for fall semester 2021. The building would be surrounded by green area, college quads and public art, Bruder said. They are hoping to make the interior feel open and inviting as opposed to the current business building, which Bruder described as dark with tight spaces. A small café is planned for the building as well.

The old art building, which closed a year ago, also will be completely renovated, Bruder said. It will be converted into a design building and large dining facility. The dining space, which will occupy the entire third floor, will seat 350 people. Construction will begin April 1 and should be completed by fall semester 2020. The building will have more makerspaces — such as wood shops, metal shops and areas for large-scale construction — than traditional classrooms.

Kent Councilwoman Tracey Wallach, who also works as a professor at KSU, said one of the issues in the former art building was that the open design of the classrooms sometimes made it difficult to hear the instructor. Bruder gave assurances that they planned to fix the problems of the past. Wallach raised concerns about the space being largely unoccupied, but Bruder said that is intentional because the new building will have a large emphasis on collaborative work.

“We have problems right now with our buildings from the ’60s and ’70s during class change,” Bruder said. “People are showing up, there’s nowhere for them to be before the other class lets out. It gets pretty congested. We think we’ve got just the right amount of open space in there.”

Bruder said feedback collected from residents helped to guide the design process. As a result, the Williamson House — formerly the university president's home and now used as a women's center and for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services, will remain in the area. Also, the view of the parking deck from East Main Street will be minimized and the university will work with the city to reduce vehicle congestion, Bruder said.