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Kenmore Better Block


Akron, OH



When we first strolled along Kenmore Boulevard, we quickly noticed that the area was missing the kind of businesses that encourage people to linger in a place. To address this issue, we wanted to create businesses that act as third places, the places you go to when not at home or work. Alto Coffee created a temporary pop-up coffee shop in a vacant building. This provided an opportunity for the owners to test ideas, should they open a permanent location, as well as provided the building owner a chance to show his space to potential tenants. The team also created a beer garden in an empty lot to revitalize the dead space and create a hangout spot for the community members.
The base counts of pedestrian activity showed that there was an average of 30 people walking by in a 10-minute span. During the Better Block, however, the average more than doubled, to 75 people per 10 minutes on Friday and an average of 50 people on Saturday. The increased life on the block could in part be attributed to the more relaxed atmosphere created by slowing cars and narrowing the street, as well as the new pop-up displays and stores that were created. (As well as the marketing that highlighted the event.)
During the Better Block, we talked to long-time Kenmore residents who claimed they have not walked up and down Kenmore Boulevard in decades. But with the Kenmore Better Block, residents finally had a reason to be on there. At the after-party, I could feel the excitement filling the Rialto Theatre, and I could not help but think that this is what Kenmore Boulevard was always meant to be: a place for residents to come together, listen to local music over drinks, shop at locally owned stores, and enjoy everything their neighborhood has to offer.


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