Using BBQ and hair to change a community - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Using BBQ and hair to change a community

K&J RibShack is cooking up change for the West side. K&J RibShack is cooking up change for the West side.
Regina Williams' new hair shop bucks the trend, opening instead of closing on the West side. Regina Williams' new hair shop bucks the trend, opening instead of closing on the West side.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For years there's been a cloud of uncertainty over much of south Montgomery, a part of town that's seen better days.

But things may be heating up, changing for the better depending on whom you talk to.

"I love the people in this neighborhood," said Kim Jackson.

Kim Jackson, for example, opened K and J Ribshack 5 years ago on South Court Street.

"It's been a struggle," she said.

A struggle considering she's taken a hit with the recession and she isn't shy about what she sees is a major issue in her neck of the woods.

"We have tourists come through here and when they see the abandoned, vacant houses they move on," said Jackson.

Still, there is a sense of optimism building. Next door to K and J is a new used car lot and then there's Regina Williams who took the plunge and spent $5,000 of her own money to open up a salon down the street. Incidentally, Williams had to move out of Montgomery Mall when the mall went under.

"I grew up in this neighborhood and everybody complains about west Montgomery closing down, but I do feel like I can put my business here. My clients have followed me and I've picked up some new clients," said Williams.

Two businesses, two women who aren't waiting for the city's 'West Montgomery Initiative' to take root, a massive plan to improve the area in and around West Fairview with renovations and housing projects. Parts of the plan also include South Court Street. The city has hired a man to go after retail for this part of town.

While Williams went ahead and took her chances with her business, she calls the city's plan 'long overdue.'

"It can come back," Williams said.

It will take time and a lot of money but city officials believe this part of town will look dramatically different in 5 years.

Jackson thinks that time frame may be pushing it a bit.

"That's like trying to bring back the dead to life. It's going to take more than a few years," said Jackson.

Regardless of how the initiative works out, Jackson and Williams refused to believe they're on an avenue of broken dreams but one of hope and great potential.

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