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Great Streets Akron Enhances Historic Rialto Theatre

The Great Streets Akron facade program paid for improvements to the historic Rialto Theatre in Kenmore.

Businesses in older buildings can sometimes look uninviting to customers. The city of Akron is working to change that by giving grants to spruce up buildings in its small business districts. 

Great Streets Akron, launched last year, aims to help bring vibrancy back to 10 Akron neighborhoods through grants, loans and street enhancements.

On Kenmore Boulevard, the Rialto Theatre is a popular live music venue and recording studio.

Owners Nate and Seth Vaill used a $25,000 facade grant to make structural improvements to the historic building, as well as other upgrades.

Nate says the work gave the theatre a whole new vibe.

“We did all new glass for the front of the building,” he said. “I think that’s part of the Great Streets mission is to open up these businesses, and not make them look closed down. We put new glass windows, new glass doors, a new entranceway. It’s a lot more open and welcoming. And then the ticket booth as well, which is kind of an historical landmark for the building.”

The city has earmarked $600,000 for this year’s façade grants. Businesses can apply online before June 3. Great Streets offers other initiatives as well.  To learn more about the program, visit Akron’s Great Streets website.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.