BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A recent boom in development around Downtown may grab the big headlines, but another part of the city is being uplifted. A neighborhood full of old, and in some cases, broken down homes is being restored brick by brick.
"I put my best in to it when I'm doing it," said 56-year-old Walter Mayes. He says he can't stop building, remodeling and working. But this job is about doing something bigger than dollars and cents.
"If they look at the history of how it once was and how it is now, it might bring the people back to the neighborhood," said Mayes.
Mayes owned the old Red and White Xpress Mart at the corner of Myrtle St. and Napoleon St.
That's when he started buying these old neighboring homes. He owns about 20, getting the first one 15-years-ago and since then, he's been renovating and uplifting the community, one home at a time.
"It turned out to be a hobby for me," said Mayes
It's little houses on Eddie Robinson Dr. where we find one of Mayes' tenants, JoAnn Hernandez.
"Inside is great. I like it. Really, I love it especially for me, anyway," said Hernandez.
Hernandez remembers the old days, saying the neighborhood is as safe now as it ever was.
"You can actually just sit in here with the door open sometimes and you can't do it everywhere else but you really can do it right here," says Hernandez.
For Mayes, all his hard work is part of a bigger picture. He says it's his commitment to gradually making the neighborhood great.
"When they see the neighborhood improving, people like to move into a neighborhood that's on the up.
It comes to a point where you've really got to have some compassion," said Mayes.
Mayes says he's completely restored 17 homes and has one house and one duplex left to finish. The work is expected to be complete by this time next year.
He says he's invested as much as $400,000 into the community.