Residents of the Guadalupe neighborhood, once the most dilapidated in Salt Lake City, have a reason to celebrate: a four-year, $30 million revitalization has transformed their neighborhood.
On June 3, Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services sponsored a celebration of the revitalization, which included a parade, antique car show, free food and activities for children. The community also received a $175,000 grant from NeighborWorks of America to continue improving the neighborhood.
"It's a very old neighborhood, one of the earliest settled in Salt Lake City," said John Becker, a spokesman for SLNHS. "The city grew to the east and the south. During that growth there were other parts of the valley that prospered more, and there was a slow decline (here). Many of the homes were sold and turned into apartments and multiple-family dwellings."
Before the revitalization, there were 34 vacant homes in the neighborhood and nearly every home needed maintenance. Now the area is bustling with new life, and there is increased home ownership from 30 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2006. With help from SLNHS, there are also 22 new homes in Argyle Court and Rendon Court, countless single-family homes and 19 homes and town homes in development on Hodges Lane, Becker said.
In addition, Becker said, private investors, along with Salt Lake City, have come to the table with several million dollars in housing and infrastructure. Sidewalk improvements, street maintenance, art murals and lighting have contributed to the reinvestment and brought new energy and excitement to Guadalupe.
Michelle Ochoa, a lifelong resident of the Guadalupe neighborhood, says the project has made a significant difference to the area.
"It's been an improvement, and people act more like neighbors now," she said. "We're finally getting stuff down here. It makes it nice."
Rose Park resident Sherrie Hartson came to the celebration after hearing about it on a visit to Nilla's Hot Rod Cafe, one of the new businesses in the area. She felt the neighborhood needed a transformation.
"I think it's great. This neighborhood is just getting old, and it needs something new. It's got a lot of old homes," she said.
Ralph Becker, who represents the area in the Legislature, said when he first started campaigning 10 years ago, the Guadalupe neighborhood was scary place to even visit. The revitalization has made a night and day difference.
"What you have done in this neighborhood is remarkable," he said. "The hard work people have put in has made this a great part of the city to live in."
Sandra Jimenez, another Guadalupe resident, said although progress has come slowly, it is helping the area. Holding the celebration brings the neighborhood into the public eye.
"(The celebration) is wonderful. It helps people be aware of this part of town and that it's been more upgraded and up to date," she said. "This will let a lot of people know this exists."