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MAIN STREET KENT: Kent: It's not just a college town anymore

Main Street Kent Published: August 15, 2013 4:00 AM

I'm not sure how summer is flying by so quickly, but there's nothing we can do to slow it down, so we might as well enjoy it and get ready because ... here they come!

New students, international students, transfer students, and return students alike are getting ready for a great year in Kent. For returning students, does downtown Kent look the same as when they left for the summer? Slim chance. For new students, what are the chances our downtown is going to knock their socks off? Excellent.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, incoming students will be transported from KSU to downtown Kent by Lolly the Trolley, to "Discover Downtown." From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., East Main Street will be closed from Water to DePeyster streets, and the street will be lined with welcoming folks -- the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Kent, and several local businesses. Free hot dogs, snacks and drinks will be provided by the KACC and the Central Portage County VCB. "Goodie bags" full of coupons and give-away items from downtown businesses will be handed out by Main Street Kent. There will also be a scavenger hunt for students, with a chance to win lots of gift cards!

For many, this will be their first chance to discover the real Kent. It will be their "home" for the school year and they'll be searching out the places to go for good eats, to buy a gift to send home to mom, to go out with friends, to have coffee and study ... and it's all right here, a short walk/ride/drive from campus.

This is also a great time for the residents of Kent, and our neighboring communities, to "Discover Downtown" Kent. I can say with certainty that when I went to school here in the 90s, we didn't have sushi, so many cool shops, Mediterranean cuisine, live, local music almost every night of the week, year-round events, kayaking, several art galleries, yoga, dance and art studios, a local coffee roaster, and such a great variety of most everything!

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In Kent, we're experience continuous change -- quite literally. If you've seen it in the papers and haven't made it down, now is the time. If it's been more than a couple of weeks since your last trip to Kent, it's time for a return visit. You'll be impressed, and possibly even shocked, at what downtown Kent has become.

It's not just a college town anymore. On one corner there's a guy getting a tattoo; on the other, two dads are racing strollers up the hill. Kent is officially in full bloom, with shops, eateries, pubs, live music, and activity like never before.

There's no place like Kent. Come see for yourself!

Heather Malarcik is executive director of Main Street Kent.

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user_25802 Aug 15, 2013 8:05 AM

Downtown Kent is a wonderful exciting revitalized space, but it has not solved an age old problem for down town Kent. It still does not have adequate parking!  It was a problem 50 years ago & still is a problem.  Yes there are some new parking opportunities, but not in proportion to the increase of businesses.   A very wise former Kent business man, Cecil Bumphrey, stressed the importance of adequate parking being vital for the success of any business.  Adequate parking was one of his criteria, when deciding to invest in a Kent business.   So the businesses are great, but to be successful, there needs to be more parking in downtown Kent!   I hope parking in downtown will be the next project in thedevelopment of downtown Kent.

Ann Shoup Taft, former Kent resident