CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte’s Hidden Valley neighborhood was formed in 1959 and is home to about 12,000 residents.
Some, who have been there for decades, lived through the neighborhood’s darkest chapter.
The Hidden Valley Kings spread violence and fear on the streets from the 1990s until police dismantled the gang around 2005.
Floyd Cherry has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and hopes to erase that part of its history.
“We’re trying to change the whole demographic of Hidden Valley,” Cherry, who is the community association's president, said.
Many residents hope to pass their homes on to their children so that generations can call Hidden Valley home.
“Come to Hidden Valley and see for yourself,” Cherry said. “You will see people walking around, doing everything they do in every other neighborhood, even Ballantyne. And there is nothing happening to them."
Residents took action in 2015 to create a community association, website and brochures improve the neighborhood’s reputation.
They fought against a 180-unit apartment building on Sugar Creek Road.
Residents said it would attract crime to the affordable housing development.
The Charlotte City Council approved it anyway.
Resident Era Johnson is concerned as a result of that decision.
“Be selective about who lives there,” Johnson said. “Make sure you have people who will take care of the property. In five or 10 years, we don't want it to become a place that breeds crime.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Jason Ellis and Officer Doug Gallant said the neighborhood is going in the right direction and crime is down 23 percent from last year.
Community engagement has helped that decrease.
“You drive through and see people doing yard work, washing cars,” Gallant said. “You don't see the graffiti, you don't see the loitering, drinking out in the neighborhood.”
The completion of a stretch of the light rail nearby has helped the community.
“It gives them hope that something is going on in the neighborhood, that something is being done,” Ellis said. “Development is coming.”
Home and land values are increasing, but Cherry worries investors will buy homes and rent them for years and sell later for a profit.
Sixty percent of the homes there are rentals.
Cherry sees a day when people will buy homes and stay there to raise families here.
“Ten years from now, I want anybody who moves there to feel like this is a place they want to stay," he said.
Residents plan to work with the apartment developer to make sure it complements the neighborhood.
Eyewitness News anchor Scott Wickersham called the developer to ask how they plan to vet and monitor their renters.
They did not return the call.
The community association meets the first Tuesday of each month. Their next meeting is Sept. 4 at the Sugar Creek Library.
Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:
© 2020 Cox Media Group