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  • Writer's pictureKNA

2020: A Year of Quiet Progress on the Boulevard

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

A global pandemic, event cancellations and lockdowns didn’t stop the volunteers of Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance from revitalizing the Kenmore Boulevard Historic District in 2020.

Despite the COVID-19’s impact on small businesses, the number of occupied commercial buildings in the district grew by 16 percent this year. The following five business located to the district and continue to operate as of Nov. 1: BrighStart Early Preschool at 1069 Kenmore Blvd., My Love Home Care at 985 Kenmore Blvd., Hall of Fame Barbershop at 930 Kenmore Blvd., ManiKitchen Tea Shop at 978 Kenmore Blvd. and ThaiSoul Fusion Grill at 992 Kenmore Blvd.

Our Design Committee completed its first façade renovation at 975 Kenmore Blvd. Through the City of Akron’s Great Streets grant program and with support from the Knight Foundation, we removed the building’s vinyl siding, restored the brick, and installed an energy-efficient glass storefront similar to that of the 1923 original. Interior renovations continue as our Economic Vitality Committee looks forward to announcing a long-term tenant in early 2021.

Thanks to funding from the Community Hall Foundation and the city of Akron, we were able to purchase and install color-changing lights on the median trees throughout the the Kenmore Boulevard Historic District. Through funding from Heritage Ohio, we held our first of what we hope will be many Light the Boulevard Window Contests, in which 20 crafty and creatively minded volunteers "adopted" storefronts with bright and creative displays.

While our Promotion & Events Committee was eager to build on the energy of last year’s Kenmore First Friday and holiday events, COVID-19 forced us to adapt. In May and June, we hosted Virtual First Fridays. Starting in July, we partnered with The Dragon’s Mantle, the Kenmore Chamber of Commerce and a variety of generous sponsors to host socially distant drive-in concerts in the Kenmore Boulevard South Alley parking lots. They featured carhop service from local food businesses and musical acts like Jim Ballard, Zach and American Idol veteran Madeline Finn. In all, we drew more than 350 people to the district at a time when outdoor live music events were scarce in Summit County.

As we close 2020, we would like to thank our generous donors and funders for helping us continue our work during these unprecedented times. They include Akron Community Foundation, the City of Akron, Kenmore Chamber of Commerce, Knight Foundation, GAR Foundation and United Way. We also thank our dedicated volunteers, without whom none of our success would have been possible. To keep up to date on all the latest Boulevard news and events, register for our e-news. And, to help us continue our revitalization in 2021, make a tax-deductible donation.

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