Our View: Downtown, everything’s waiting for you

DKS Editors

Living 10 minutes’ walking distance from campus sounds like a pretty good plan – right?

If all the stores you needed to go to, restaurants you wanted to eat at and bars you wanted to frequent were seconds away, the deal starts to sound even sweeter, doesn’t it?

So why don’t we see more housing in and around downtown Kent?

With work on the Phoenix Project well underway, it seems Kent is ready and willing to rework the buildings and property available. And now, with The Green Room and The Bar’N up for grabs, there will be even more room.

Recently it seems most construction on new student housing has crept farther and farther from campus. Not only does an apartment far from campus mean walking isn’t an option, it’s basically begging students to drive often and create more pollution and parking hassles.

And what is one of downtown Kent’s biggest attractions for college students? The bars, of course. If students must drive to the bars to get there, they’ll need to drive back. We’d all like to think our peers are smart enough not to drink and drive, but the police blotter tells us otherwise.

The closer students live to downtown Kent, the better it would be for the local economy as well. If a company builds an apartment complex near Wal-Mart, students will shop at Wal-Mart. If a company builds an apartment complex near or in downtown Kent, students will go to the local shops right in town for nearly everything they need. For many college students, proximity is everything.

Not only will students no longer have to use cars to get downtown with closer housing available, but more parking will be available for commuters and any other local visitors to stop and grab a bite to eat or shop.

Even community programs that take place in downtown Kent will grow in popularity with students already there to witness them and call friends down. Most students don’t even know about things like the Haymaker Farmer’s Market because they just aren’t in the area to catch a peek or really even see much literature about such events.

Traffic in downtown Kent could be crucial to enrollment as well. If students are a little undecided about the university and they happen to check out downtown Kent because they heard about available living space, they may find the entire area to be a place worth spending future collegiate weekend nights.

All it takes is a few places to live downtown. Those students will invite their friends. Interest grows in both the town and in more downtown housing, and soon the university and the city become inseparable.

Downtown Kent and the university could use a little unity. The city’s in the middle of what will be a really great miniature Renaissance – so why not let students literally live in the midst of it all?

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