Waverly Main Street wants to change the perception of the commercial district.
Although its home to popular businesses—such as Darker Than Blue Café, Pete’s Grille and nearby 32nd Street Farmer’s Market—some high profile violent crimes have hurt the area’s reputation, said Jermaine Johnson, Waverly Main Street director.
"For us it’s something we think about all the time is 'How do we dismantle [the negative] perception?'" Johnson said.
Starting next week the organization will continue taking steps to do just that by meeting with the community to develop a master plan for the district.
There will be two public sessions held at Grace Restoration Life Church, 428 Merryman Lane, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.
The first session involves the public submitting ideas for how they would like to see the area improved. During the second session The Mahan Rykiel Team, which is helping to develop the master plan, will present its recommendations for how to improve the district using suggestions made by the community during the previous meeting.
"We believe that community input is vital because we serve the local community," Johnson said.
But Johnson said that his organization recognizes that the district is unique, and that some of the approaches that worked for thriving business districts, such as Hampden and Federal Hill, won’t work. He also said they will have to develop their plans in conjunction with the Waverly Commons and Greenmount Avenue/ York Road streetscape projects.
"We’re trying to discuss 'What is our brand?' and 'How do we grow from here?'" Johnson said.
Once the plan is complete Waverly Main Street will then look for funding for some projects from the city’s capital budget and help from Johns Hopkins Homewood Community Partners Initiative to implement the plan.
"It’s not going to be a plan that sits on the shelf," Johnson said.
Despite being optimistic about the plan, and even witnessing anecdotal evidence of improved business in the district Johnson isn't being naive about the hurdles to changing how some of the public views the area.
"We're not going to hide from it. We're going to deal with it head on," he said.
Residents who cannot attend the meeting are encouraged to send comments to WaverlyMainStreet@gmail.com.