Photo and article by Jennifer Conn, Spectrum News
AKRON, Ohio - A once declining Akron neighborhood has welcomed its 10th new business since the start of the pandemic.
On Monday, Mayor Dan Horrigan and Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance Executive Director Tina Boyes helped cut a bright red ribbon at the entrance of the new law offices of New York-based attorney Marc Scolnick at 1014 Kenmore Blvd.
The Akron Law Office of Marc Scolnick is the second office for the University of Akron Law School graduate. The office will be managed in the day-to-day by John D. Hoffman, also a UA Law School graduate.
Scolnick returned to New York after graduating with his law degree, but always intended to come back to Akron, which he considers his second home, he told those gathered at the event.
“We see a lot of potential here and we're looking forward to helping grow the Boulevard and be part of the community,” he said. “I see so much more opportunity than almost anywhere else. You can find warm, gracious people, a working-class mentality, but still having a high-quality product across all industries. And so, we're going to be doing the same thing here. And be a part of making this place better than it was when I got here.”
Horrigan pointed out that his grandparents once operated a grocery store across the Boulevard from the new law offices.
He credited Boyes and City Councilman Mike Freemen with the momentum that’s been evident on the Boulevard over the past couple years, as darkened storefronts have steadily filled.
“It's easy for me to get behind great ideas,” Horrigan said. “We’re going to make a big investment in the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance and those initiatives, and as you can see we're back on the Boulevard again. I can't tell you how many times we've opened new businesses here. Small business is important.”
Kenmore is one of Akron's 10 Great Streets communities, an initiative Horrigan announced in 2018. Great Streets integrates economic development, urban planning and engineering to make improvements aimed at revitalizing ailing business districts like the Boulevard, to draw more families to live in the city.
Since then, zoning updates and infrastructure improvements have been underway, all with an eye toward maintaining the character of the Boulevard, while making it more attractive for businesses and residents.
Making properties in the district eligible for historic tax credits, in 2019, the National Park Service added the Kenmore Boulevard Historic District to its National Register of Historic Places.
Boyes, who has shepherded commercial revitalization of the Boulevard, said Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance’s role is to be a connector.
“With Mark and with the other businesses here, we like to connect them to the city services, because there are so many right now, through the Great Streets program,” she said. “We’re here to connect them to fellow business owners. There's so many businesses that could be using their services and likewise, and we want to connect them to the residents, too, by doing things, like our Kenmore First Fridays, bringing people down to the district activating the space again, showing people that there's vibrancy here.”
Boyes’ group launched Kenmore First Fridays in 2017, hosting a block party-style monthly outdoor event, featuring food, live music, vendors and games.
Among the business drawn to open in the Boulevard’s historic buildings are Beauty by Law Salon and Spa, which opened its doors last week at 930 Kenmore Blvd.
In May, Kenmore native Terrence Bailey fulfilled a lifelong dream, opening Ethicrace Clothing Co. at 971 Kenmore Blvd. Also, in May, Not Just October, a nonprofit offering resources to breast cancer patients, survivors and their supporters hosted a grand opening for its Kim Jacobs Breast Resource Center.
BrightStart Early Preschool opened in June at 1069 Kenmore Boulevard was started by former Kenmore High School student Aletha Harris.
Marigold Sol at 962 Kenmore boulevard opened while the world was shut down last March, offering new and vintage furniture, home décor, gifts and jewelry, as well as classes in custom furniture refinishing.
Also in March, Just a Dad From Akron opened a store at 937 Kenmore Blvd., featuring owner Kenny Lambert’s specially designed clothing that aims to inspire young families.
Kenmore also draws every caliber of musician to the Boulevard with its growing music industry. The Rialto Theatre, a live-music venue and studio, the Guitar Department, a new and used consignment shop that offers music lessons, are all mainstays on the Boulevard.
SRINA Tea House on 975 Kenmore Blvd., a full-service restaurant, is expected to open in the near future through a city of Akron Rubber City Match grant for new businesses.
More information about the Law Office of Marc Scolnick can be found by visiting the website.