Transformation beyond Imagination project underway in Benton Harbor
BENTON HARBOR, Mich - The Empire Ave corridor is alive today, but the Benton Harbor community development corporation wants to take it one step further.
Their vision is to make it a thriving commercial district where residents will have access to services like grocery stores, barbershops, and restaurants all within walking distance.
Ashley Hines is spearheading the revitalization project and wants to see the street returned to its former glory.
‘We're hoping to show the community that we don’t have to imagine a community that we want we can change agents and see those things happen,’ said Hines.
Hines, a lifetime resident of Benton Harbor has personal ties to the area.
Her father owned this building right here, back in the day, called Sheiks Clothing, and now she has plans to revitalize the building.
“And we're working with Andrews School of Architecture who is part of this project, and they will be helping to design this space and hopefully we'll see some new businesses to help set up shop here,” said Hines.
There are also plans to rehab existing homes here.
Jasminka Newbern, the housing counselor for the Benton Harbor Community Development Corporation believes home ownership is one of the most important steps to help bring more prosperity to an economically struggling community.
“How do we get home ownership if we don’t have homes?" she asked. "So, revitalizing the community is not just the actually act of owning a home, but it’s the entire process of making sure we don’t tear down building that still have usage in them,” said Newbern.
Ron King, the Executive Director at the Benton Harbor Success movement right here on Empire Ave, works with youth in the community to get them positive starts in life and says it takes a village to build community.
“And it also takes more than one particular organization being the center of everything, so we want to use the hub of the Benton harbor success movement building to bring in those organizations to offer them to be able to use space when they need it,” said King.