MILWAUKEE -- There has been a movement in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood to increase property values and attract new businesses to the area -- in the works long before the unrest in August in the wake of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith by a Milwaukee police officer, but now, organizers are putting the spotlight on some positive developments there.
The program is part of Common Ground's "Milwaukee Rising" initiative.
All of the funds that fuel the neighborhood turnaround are generated through the group -- not public money.
In Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood, there is a push to get people on board with a huge revitalization plan.
"We want people to not only live here, but to invest here," Frank Finch said.
Finch is a member of Common Ground -- a group made up of Milwaukee-area churches and non-profit organizations. Over the past five years, Common Ground has rehabilitated 75 otherwise abandoned or foreclosed homes in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
Dozens on Sunday, September 18th took part in a tour -- taking a look at some of the group's success stories. For example -- a home near 51st and Chambers, owned by Randy Jones. Jones said he looks at the recent unrest as a distraction from the area's positive turnaround.
"A lot of things that happened in Sherman Park. It didn`t happen from the people who stayed in Sherman Park. It was outsiders," Jones said.
Common Ground officials say the 75 rehabbed homes produced $6 million in property sales and nearly $200,000 in annual property tax revenue.
Jones purchased his home for $105,000. It had been abandoned for three years before Common Ground stepped in.
Neighbors living near Washington High School also want to see an investment made here -- specifically to the athletic field and the track.
Alexander Hardy lives across the street from the school. He said his property values have fluctuated since he moved into the neighborhood in 1997. He is part of a push called "Milwaukee Neighborhoods Now" -- an effort to create a public/private partnership to invest in spots that will bring more families and businesses to Sherman Park.
"I think with those things happening, we will see crime be reduced as well," Hardy said.
Common Ground officials say the number of vacant properties in Sherman Park have dropped from 300 down to just 66 in the last five years.