Mike Beder’s efforts to bring new retail to downtown Kent and further the decades-long mission of creating a “town and gown” community should be applauded. I believe the Architecture Review Board’s objections to the facade’s color scheme are subjective and, indeed, misguided.
Remember that recently the very same business space was occupied by a goth hair salon boldly advertising itself in black and shocking pink. Where was the historical precedence for that color scheme? Look around: Kent’s downtown is awash in a wide variety of color and architectural anomalies. Why take offense with blue and gold?
Another of Mike’s businesses, Water Street Tavern, is also painted in the university colors — somewhat more subdued perhaps but also offering a welcoming presence to KSU students who come into town for entertainment with buying power and a desire to be part of our broader community. As one of the principal contractors on the Water Street Tavern, I can confirm Mike’s early efforts there to meet historical standards, satisfying even the Ohio Historical Society.
This is a college town that should be proud of the strong educational bond it has with the university that shares its name. Dare we travel to Columbus for a visit to see how many retail establishments are festooned in scarlet and gray?
In a time when all cities, large and small, are struggling to keep their business communities vibrant and alive, does it make much sense to apply these largely subjective roadblocks to a respected member of this community’s newest venture?