Downtown isn’t the only part of our town

DKS Editors

Although downtown Kent has been receiving a face-lift, both with the new Acorn Alley and upcoming plans, other parts of Kent have been forgotten.

Some students don’t even realize there is more to the city than the strip of piercing parlors, bars and specialty stores that line either side of Main Street. That could be because there isn’t much else. Places where business used to boom have had to move out — and not much has stepped in as a replacement.

Outside of downtown Kent, shopping plazas are slowly dying, and a number of them have only held a couple of stores in recent years. Kent Plaza is home to the theater and little else. The local businesses that are still around are suffering because there is nothing to bring traffic — i.e. students — to the area.

These empty buildings also mean fewer jobs and less tax revenue for the city.

And they’re just plain ugly. The empty buildings and vacant lots are eyesores. Driving by, they’re more than easy to forget. Sure we are trying to rebuild downtown, and that is an important part of revitalizing the city, but there’s more to Kent than just the downtown area.

If folks are driving into Kent by way of state Route 76, they’re going to pass University Plaza before they come to downtown Kent, and that is not the best first impression to give. We’re sure some of students remember a few days when they’ve come back from spring, winter or summer break and drove in almost expecting to see tumble weeds roll through the parking lot of the plaza.

It’s important for a town to try to keep its businesses alive. Although Walmarts are a major reason for other stores such as Ames to close its doors, it’s not an excuse. While the city of Kent is offering to help new businesses get their start, why not offer a space in the University Plaza? We’re sure some deal could be met with the owners of the plaza — and it will really help move traffic throughout the city of Kent, not just from the school to downtown and back.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.