The WEB has started a sub committee called Whalley Avenue Revitalization (WAR) that reports their activities to the WEB on a monthly basis. This group consists of:
The president & executive director of WASSD
A representative from the City Office of Economic Development
The Police District Manager
The president of the WEB
Two resident representatives of the WEB (one of which is the co-chair)
We focus on the issues facing Whalley Ave and how to overcome them. One issue was the cleanliness of the street. WASSD increased their payment by maximum amount allowed by their charter and will do so for the next 2 to 3 years to bring in enough revenue to service the district properly. The city is coming forward with funds and city resources to augment what WASDD is doing. Simple things like fixing the street lights that are out to trimming trees that have not been trimmed in years. The city is also helping out with façade program money that many other parts of the city already get.
All of the stakeholders mentioned above are working on a vision for Whalley to make it a place where everyone will want to shop & dine at and feel safe doing it. This is a massive undertaking and it will take time for some of the grand vision changes but small changes have taken place. The closing of Newt’s Bar on the corner of Whalley and Winthrop and the rebuilding of Chucks Luncheonette are some of the immediate changes.
When the shopkeepers on the strip know that people care they will start to take pride in their work. For the first time in years Minories is taking care of his property and has started working on a new façade and signage for his store. This was in good part to the combined efforts of WAR. We are not stopping with him.
An integral part of this all is making sure that we get quality stores to move on the strip. I agree that we can not have any more “brown bag” liquor stores or connivance stores that sell crack pipes, Philly Blunts and other drug paraphernalia with impunity. We also need to make sure that the stores don’t become hangouts (like L & A Deli, Whalley Pizza, Sam’s Store, just to name a few).
WASSD is working on a “Leakage Study” – a study showing what the residents of the area are buying outside the area because they can’t be serviced here. It is my hope that this study will be taken seriously and we can fill some of the open storefronts with what the community and WASSD wants and needs, and that the property owners look at what they are putting in and not just jump on the first call.
In order to change Whalley we need to put a higher caliber establishment in that takes pride in their store and neighborhood. If it can't happen with this store let us make it happen in the future.