LAKE WALES, Fla. — The lion mural in the center of Lincoln Avenue is the first step of many, to revitalize the historically Black northwest neighborhood of Lake Wales.
“When my grandmother was alive when she was young, that was the only neighborhood in Lake Wales where Black people could own property,” said Sara Jones, owner of Sara Jones Law.
Five generations of the Jones family have lived in Lake Wales. She fondly remembers Lincoln Ave. as a once-thriving Black business district.
“Had over 50 businesses in the district. Over the last 30 years, it’s become completely blighted and I think there’s only one on the street,” Jones said.
The City of Lake Wales has been working to breathe life back into the neighborhood. The Community Redevelopment Agency is expanding affordable housing in the area and now they are asking local business owners to set up shop here. On Saturday, CRA is hosting the Lincoln Avenue Business District Social.
“We’re in talks and partnership with those property owners to get their property redeveloped but we want businesses to come and network with these property owners,” said Darrell Starling, Community Redevelopment Agency Project Manager.
Jones will be moving her law firm to Lincoln Avenue. She’s been a major player in the comeback of the northwest neighborhood.
“It had famous singers and artists come into that neighborhood and I would love to see that again. For the northwest neighborhood to be just as important as the rest of Lake Wales,” Jones said.
The Lincoln Avenue Business District Social is happening on Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. at First Baptist Institutional Church.