GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than a dozen new businesses have opened up on Randleman Road in the past year, a trend officials say is caused by years of cracking down on crime and forming relationships with businesses and community members.
"We're looking at doing a lot for the community," said Robert Spates, who opened Ro-Rees Catering Restaurant with his wife on Randleman Road in February.
"We wanted to be right there -- a part of the new development," Spates said.
Fifteen businesses have opened in the area in the past 12 months -- an area once known for its high crime.
"A lot of people were afraid to come to Randleman Road," Spates said.
Greensboro Police Officer Tom Boyer has been leading the fight to change that.
"This is a much better area than people have perceived it to be from the past," said Boyer who is a community resource officer for the area.
For the past two years, police have stepped up patrols, created community resource units and have held monthly meetings with business owners and residents.
"The more people take ownership of the area, the less crime you're going to have," Boyer said.
Since 2011, auto theft, home burglaries and larcenies have dropped dramatically.
"It's gotten better,” said Richard Wicker, manager of Lil’ Donnie Walker’s Car Wash on Randleman Road. “It's cleaned up."
Wicker has worked at the car wash for more than 30 years and has seen Randleman Road at its best and its worst.
"It got a little depressed with foot traffic as far as street beggars, ladies of the night," Wicker said.
A dark past he and others are hoping stays gone.
"It's going to be just a brand new start for everyone," Spates said.