Resident of Akron neighborhood trying to reinvent itself: 'Kenmore's got potential'

Boarded up businesses and open local shops dot the boulevard. (Source: WOIO)
Boarded up businesses and open local shops dot the boulevard. (Source: WOIO)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The Kenmore neighborhood in Akron is trying to revive its image after years of population loss and problems with crime.

A program called "Better Block" will be taking over Kenmore Boulevard in early September, and its goal is to revitalize the area.

The Kenmore neighborhood is on the southwest side of Akron. Jackie Mick has called it home for 15 years.

"It's almost like country in the city, it's so centrally located," she said.

But it's not always peaceful here. A few months ago, someone set several cars on fire overnight when they were parked in driveways, close to houses. Mick's neighbor across the street lost her vehicle to one of the acts of arson.

"There have been some issues, there were the fires, but they were in other neighborhoods too," Mick said.

Still, she says she's not going anywhere.

"There is a movement, there are people interested in Kenmore, and I think if it picks up Kenmore could be a charming little town," Mick said.

A few minutes away, empty storefronts dot Kenmore Boulevard. But Tina Boyes, the chair of Kenmore Better Block, sees a different vision.

"We do not have what they call 'missing teeth,' our buildings are relatively intact. That is very desirable for people who wish to invest here," she said.

It's the largest business district outside of downtown. Boyes wants to see coffee shops and restaurants with patios line the boulevard.

"We want to slow things down, we want people to meander. We want people to see what's here and take their time passing through," she said.

More customers sound great to Ed Michalec, owner of The Guitar Department.

"I'd like to see more traffic in the area, more people from outside of the area. We're a destination rather than people stumbling upon us," he said.

Properties aren't too expensive here, and Boyes says some small business owners have been checking out the area. Neighbors hope they wind up setting up shop.

"Kenmore's got potential, it really does," Mick said.

The Kenmore Better Block program will include pop-up shops, newly designed landscaping, live music and activities for the whole family. Its goal is to help people envision what the neighborhood could become with more investment by its residents and local businesses.

Kenmore Better Block will be held on Sept. 1 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sept. 2 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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