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Breaking ground on new businesses for Huntridge Center

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One new project leads to another. That's the hope in the historic Huntridge neighborhood at E. Charleston and Maryland Parkway.

A local developer has been pouring money into the area for a couple of years, and today there are more signs of change and growth.

The Huntridge Shopping Center has been here for the better part of 60 years. And it's no secret that it was looking a little rough before the current owners bought it.

Now, improvements are being made, and longtime businesses know that is good for everybody.

If you want to learn what's truly happening in any neighborhood, the corner barbershop is a good place to start.

“When he told us they were going to break ground, we were all excited,” said Juan Medina, a barber at Hi-Rollers barber shop. “This has been here since the late '50s.”

And Hi-Rollers is no exception. Tucked into the back of Huntridge Shopping Center, Juan Medina says the business has been here for decades, and the surrounding area has had its share of challenges.

“We've seen stuff out there, like, oh my God,” said Medina. “But since Dapper took over everything is getting nicer, we're getting everything new. Like the Wing Stop.”

Medina is referring to J. Dapper, the developer who bought the center two years ago and immediately began making changes. Dapper is restoring historic signage and adding new businesses.

“We're kind of at that point now where the tide is turning,” said Dapper.

On Tuesday, workers celebrated the groundbreaking of two new restaurants with tacos and Bobbie sandwiches from Roberto’s and Capriotti’s, which are set to open here early next year.

“When I was a kid, I used to come to the Farm Basket that was sitting right on this spot, and it hurt me to tear it down, but I knew it was going to make way for something amazing,” said Dapper.

To date, Dapper and his partner have invested more than $10 million remodeling Huntridge Center. He hopes other downtown property owners will make the same commitment.

And right across the street, the historic Huntridge Theater has always been on the radar.

“I would definitely love to be a part of [it], whether it's the redevelopment for the Huntridge, owning the Huntridge, whatever that may look like,” said Dapper. “At some point, something is going to happen. Change across the street. And we hope it's soon.”

“We have very little new because it's only been in the recent decade or so that people have been willing to invest in downtown,” says Councilman Bob Coffin.

As for the barber shop?

“It's always going to endure,” said Medina. “It's always going to be here.”

The faces and styles have changed, but the dedication to the neighborhood remained. And medina says the future is looking bright.

“I'm kinda waiting to see what's happening with the gas station,” said Medina. “They told us they're going to make it look like the '50s. We love that culture and stuff.”

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