"We can talk about an eleven million dollar investment in our community, 72 homes, we've been able to lower crime about 43% and increase property values," said Paul Tutwiler.
Tutwiler runs Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation. The nonprofit organization is behind the new life in the communities near and around Moncrief Road and Myrtle Avenue.
"We're looking at everything within a half-mile radius of this town center," he said.
The town center is an office retail complex, a contemporary building that seems out of place, but perhaps a sign of the changes.
We looked at the Sheriff's crime report for 2010 and 2011 and the numbers tell part of the story
Here's a snapshot:
-Residential Burglary declined 31%
-Robbery to an individual went down 72 %
Tutwiler said residents are buying into the neighborhood improvements.
"People make up the community," he said, "not the buildings or the facility."
A few years ago, Northwest Jacksonville Community CDC built new, affordable homes. Tutwiler said a model that sold for $70,000 is now selling for much more.
"That same model sold eight months ago for $128,000, as crime has gone down property values have gone up," he said.
His organization is moving into the second phase of development, some of which may be completed in 2014.
"We dream of restaurants and small businesses; we're looking at a grocery store," said Tutwiler.
The area is not where he would like it to be, but Tutwiler said it is not what it used to be just a few years ago.
"People are proud to be in the community," said Tutwiler, "the business association has called this district, 'the district of souls.'"