Developer invests $9-million to revitalize Manchester area

Developer invests $9-million to revitalize Manchester area

. - Could Manchester someday become the next Carytown?  RJ Smith Companies, which is a construction company, just bought up several abandoned buildings around Hull Street Corridor.

This part of Manchester is a well traveled area, but Richard Smith, the developer, wants to make it a destination. He says he's investing $9-million into the neighborhood. He wants this to be a place where people will eat and shop.

Right now on Hull Street in Manchester, there are shadows of businesses that once thrived here.

"Actually it's like a deserted town within a city," says Ezell Lee who has lived in Manchester for nine years.

Lee is also keeping a close eye on the plans to revitalize Manchester.

"It's going to brighten it up and make people want to come to downtown southside," he said.

That's where developer Richard Smith comes in. Smith and partner Janet King want to bring in the business owners. It's part of a project called Urban Charm which focuses on revitalizing Hull Street.

"The community is changing daily," says Smith.  "There are thousands of residents already living in several blocks of where we're standing now and we believe all they need is a place to be serviced: restaurants, boutique shops, retail, barber shops.  They're not here."

RJ Smith Construction just bought abandoned buildings. One is on Bainbridge Road and there are several along Hull Street. The renovations will begin in phases starting in the 1300 block, followed by the 1400 block and finally the 1500 block. 

It's a personal investment Smith and King's parents grew up in the area.

"We are big believers in if they build it they will come," says Smith.

You will start seeing changes on this corner starting next year, but Smith says the entire project will take about three years.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved