SAN ANTONIO – In what neighbors are calling a renaissance, the historic Denver Heights neighborhood will be brought back to life this year.
Nine blocks of Iowa Street between Hackberry and South New Braunfels will get a major makeover.
Nearly one million dollars will be put back into the neighborhood that, in better days, was called the gateway to downtown.
"This is one of the first middle class subdivisions for African Americans here in San Antonio,” Denver Heights Neighborhood Association president Jerri Keys says. “I grew up in this area."
Keys took News 4 for a walk down memory lane.
"We had everything right here on this corner,” she says. “On the corner of Pine and Iowa.”
The intersection was once the crossroads of the African American business community.
"We had a pharmacy,” Keys says. “We had a movie theater. We had live entertainment in an ice house. We had Hanlee Grocery store."
It’s all gone, now – shuttered and in disrepair.
"It looks like it's been deserted,” Keys says. “Life is not there anymore."
That’s why Keys and the Denver Heights Neighborhood Association call their vision a renaissance: bringing back life – and families – to the neighborhood.
"I think we're going to be doing at least a good 20 homes and I want to say it's only 30 homes in Knob Hill,” she says.
Then, spruce up Pittman-Sullivan Park, add sidewalks and improve bus stops.
"New benches plus the shelters to go over the bench,” Keys says. "The low-income families over here, [the bus] is their main transportation."
The big dreams require big money that District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor worked with the neighborhood to secure.
"What we're hoping is that the city will just be serving as a catalyst and that private investors will see the potential and come in and do additional things,” Councilwoman Taylor says.
Some of it comes from $600,000 of bond money already set aside for the park. The rest comes from federal grants, including $200,000 for home repairs and $80,000 for infrastructure.
Keys says the investment will lay the groundwork to once again make Iowa Street a gateway to downtown.
"2013 is the year for Denver Heights,” she says.
The neighborhood is hosting a meeting to officially announce the plans Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Davis Scott YMCA. That’s at the corner of Iowa and South New Braunfels.