Acorn Alley was the vision of local business leader and philanthropist, Ronald Burbick, who brought his vision to life in the Spring of 2009 with a walk-able retail and restaurant district in the heart of historic downtown Kent. This not only brought architectural beauty to the landscape of downtown Kent and more retail to the downtown area, it also brought a renewed energy that Kent was on the rise. Demand for more retail was evident, so in the fall of 2011, Acorn Alley II opened offering even more retail and dining choices.
Thanks to the efforts of Burbick, along with the City of Kent administration and City Council, key players at Kent State University, Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, and other community business leaders and stakeholders, there is a renaissance in downtown Kent. Their shared vision for a sense of community has infused more vitality and investment than the downtown has seen in a long time, restoring the pride and tradition of a vibrant downtown. Downtown Kent now boasts many points of interest uniting the old with the new by preserving the historical integrity of the past while creating a destination city of today.
There is no stopping the excitement and expansion happening in Acorn Alley and all of downtown Kent with its unique mix of shops, offices, restaurants and entertainment that have become a popular destination by the locals, visitors, students, professionals, and virtually people of all ages and walks of life.
Acorn Corner – Formerly Known as the “Old Franklin Hotel”
Construction began in June 1919 on the five story structure that was considered the pride of the community. The 16,000 square foot reinforced concrete and brick structure was prominently poised at the southwest corner of East Main and Depeyster streets and is a visual landmark from nearly all entry points into the city. When The Franklin Hotel opened in 1920, it featured 50 rooms, including 27 with separate baths, a formal lobby, mezzanine, ballroom, billiards parlor and barbershop. It quickly became the center of activity attracting overnight guests, annual conferences, and a meeting place for many local civic organizations.
At the time the hotel first opened, the city of Kent was very prosperous due to other local development and the expanding railroad industry, but after numerous changes of ownership and financial hardship over several decades, the Franklin Hotel had difficulty operating as a profitable business and eventually sat empty in 1994 for nearly twenty years.
Late in 2011, Acorn Alley developer, Ronald Burbick, purchased the building from the City of Kent and committed to renew its historic character, add some modern day flare and turn it into a viable mixed-use facility. The restoration began in 2012, and the plan called for restoring the hotel as closely as possible to the 1920’s version with a new minor addition within the footprint of the original building to accommodate a new, modern elevator and interior staircase. In the spring of 2013, the old Franklin Hotel was dedicated as “Kent’s Acorn Corner,” and is now home to Buffalo Wild Wing’s on the first floor and second floor mezzanine level; Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Central Portage County Visitors & Convention Bureau, and Marathon Financial Services on the third floor; luxury apartments on the fourth and fifth floors; and The Secret Cellar Speakeasy in the basement level.