Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, which was founded in 2016 to create a better Kenmore through cultural, artistic, recreational and business revitalization within the Kenmore Boulevard Historic Business District, has announced that it is rebranding as Better Kenmore Community Development Corporation (CDC).
“We are at the perfect stage in our evolution to rebrand and reintroduce ourselves to the community,” said Corey Jenkins, Marketing & Events Director for Better Kenmore. “We aren’t changing the type of work we do as an organization, but we are refreshing our name and identity to better reflect who we are as an organization.”
Since the organization began seven years ago, over a dozen new businesses and organizations have moved to Kenmore Boulevard, many of the existing business and property owners have invested in building façade improvements, and thousands of people have flocked to the district during its annual Kenmore First Friday events - a series of street festivals which include vendors, food trucks, an outdoor beer garden, community activities, and live music from some of the biggest and brightest artists the region has to offer.
Speaking of music, Kenmore Boulevard is fast becoming known as Akron’s Music Row – home to live music venues, over a half dozen recording studios, a record store, two guitar shops, and a world-renowned luthier.
“As Kenmore’s community development corporation, our vision is a safe, thriving Kenmore with a revived Boulevard at its core,” Better Kenmore Executive Director Josh Gippin explained. “Our approach to achieving this is through placemaking, real estate development, attracting new businesses, hosting community events, promoting the boulevard, and creating lasting connections within the Kenmore community."
Gippin – who was named as successor to longtime Executive Director Tina Boyes in February – says the organization will continue to focus on initiatives aimed at revitalizing the Kenmore Boulevard Historic District and honor Boyes’ legacy, while expanding the organization’s capacity.
“I really feel that I’ve been passed the torch,” Gippin said. “We’re doing the same things we always have been, but supercharged. The first thing I did when I took over was to build a team, and we have a bona fide dream team that’s firing on all cylinders.”
Better Kenmore intends to facilitate real estate development, in part by acquiring and renovating buildings on the Boulevard. One of them houses SRINA Tea House & Cafe; another, which Gippin says will be completed by this Fall, will be home to an innovative and exciting concept which will be announced later this year. A third building will be completed in Spring 2024, which will likely house a restaurant on the first floor and affordable housing above it.
Gippin has plans for Better Kenmore to strengthen its community outreach initiatives as well. “I’m excited to build the kinds of strong relationships and trust that are needed so that we can all work together on bigger projects that benefit the whole neighborhood,” Gippin said.
Better Kenmore’s signature event, Kenmore First Friday, returns to the Boulevard on Friday, June 2, at 6 p.m. and will run through September 1. June’s installment will feature vendors from Oddmall, six stages of live music including Detention and Funeral Proposals on the 15th Street Main Stage, the Magic City Brewing Company beer garden, food trucks, speed dating, a kids’ activity zone, and much, much more.
“We’ve got some new and exciting experiences planned for First Friday this year,” Gippin said, “and we hope to see you on the Boulevard this Summer!”