Chester, Pa. (WTXF) - Chester isn’t exactly known for economic development and people rushing to the city. However, even in the midst of the darkness of violence and underdeveloped neighborhoods there is light and hope. A local man took our Bill Anderson on a tour of a series of downtown blocks that are being developed to show people that they can make a difference in their neighborhoods…..For Goodness Sake
Most of the time you hear about Chester in the news it’s not about positive things but at least one man believes that Chester’s story isn’t being told truthfully. It's really about development, community and success and he wants you to see it.
Devon Walls is a successful entertainment entrepreneur and although his career took him to much larger and more successful cities. The city of Chester is home and he and other like minded individuals want to take care of home.
Take care of our own neighborhoods is a pretty simple concept but as Devon took FOX 29 on a tour of Avenue of the States you could see that the idea is simple but the plan is impressive.
“This is where we’re going to build our artists studios. It's called the Artist's Warehouse. They’ll have lofts and stuff,. We’re building a film screening room in here; photography studios," he explained.
Pretty much everything on the block he and his partners owned.
But ownership was just the first part of the plan that along with the city and others is being called Chester Made. They are also training anyone in the community who wants to learn how to do basic construction.
The tour was eye-opening as FOX 29's Bill Anderson walked from one building to the next each one fitting in to this plan of empowerment and self determination. And equally impressive were the young people that are working with Devon and buying into the idea of Chester made being a sign of pride.
With the tour over the talk turned to business and the fact that for better or worse Chester has some well documented challenges that could make investing there a bad business decision.
“Go 2 miles in any direction and we’re in another zip code. In that zip code they have everything we’re putting here, coffee shops, restaurants, their kids are running down the streets happy. Why don’t we deserve that? Bad business for them, maybe, great business for me.”
So far, the theater and art gallery are open, coffee shop, artist workspace and apartments are planned but the bigger challenge is a mindset change. Will we believe enough in our own neighborhoods to be North Philly, West Philly and Kensington Made, like they’re now Chester Made…For Goodness Sake.