Kent, OH- hosts a quality historic downtown as state university near Akron

Difficult to decipher exactly what to include in this Kent evaluation as the pre-WWII fabric extents pretty far and inconsistently outside of the downtown center. I included all of Kent University and used a mixture of block groups and historic fabric to set the boundaries of this evaluation.

Kent was originally founded as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve and settled in 1805. It attracted settles due to its location along the Cuyahoga River which spurred water-power mills and eventually the Ohio canal. By the time Kent State was founded in 1910 the City already had a population of 4,500. Kent State was built on the eastern edge of the City and doesn’t fully integrate with the historic town. While there are several quality historic buildings, most of Kent State is unattractive 1950s-1970s  buildings. Major redevelopment initiatives came to Downtown Kent in 2008 with a $110 Million dollar mixed-use development across several blocks.

Like most college towns, Kent has a good array of main street retail and cultural amenities. Park and recreational space are extensive along the Cuyahoga River adjacent to Downtown. Areas that Kent could improve from an urban perspective include a  downtown supermarket and target, more consistent ADA infrastructure, and a better sense of place at Kent State University. There is also a fair amount of blight in the historic residential portions of the City. 
Click here to view the Kent album on my Flickr Page

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Convenient access to lots of University jobs at Kent.
* Pretty good local transit access in the downtown core and university areas of Kent.
* Good bike access on Kent State’s campus and along the Cuyahoga River. No dedicated bike shares.
* Pretty good economic diversity.
* Crime rate is very low but still some blight in the residentials portion of Kent.
* Great tree canopy throughout most of Kent.
* Park and recreation highlights include the extensive and diversity park space surrounding the Cuyahoga River and quads at Kent State along with an attractive plaza space at Acorn Alley.
* Quality cultural amenities include many restaurants, bars & cafes, several live music venues & art gallery spaces, a couple local breweries, some local museums (Kent State University Museum and Kent Historic Society) and the performing arts hosted at Kent State University.
* Nice retail amenities as well including many boutiques and local businesses, local bookstores, a couple drug stores, several banks, along with a post office and library.
* Several good elementary schools within the historic core. The public middle and high school is just north of the historic core.
* Kent did a nice job rebuilding its downtown with quality urban in-fill. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent driving access to Dwtn Akron (25 minutes) and Dwtn Cleveland (45) but limited public transit connections.
* Limited racial and generational diversity.
* Local grocery store located in a strip mall just south of the historic core of Kent.
* Sidewalk infrastructure generally good but modern ADA infrastructure inconsistent.
* Most of Kent State University is ugly 60s & 70s towers. While there is attractive green space and quads, likes of parking lots spread throughout campus diminishing its sense of place.
* Historic housing is ok. Some nice historic commercial buildings in Downtown Kent. 

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