On November 15, 2017, Mayor Tony Paulk, his wife Chevelle and daughters Destiny and Jyara gathered with many friends and family to celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Paulk Plaza, located at 917 Gaskin Avenue South.
Paulk Plaza is located in Paulk’s childhood neighborhood. He revealed that he grew up right across the street, in what was known as the housing authority, from the newly revitalized plaza. Paulk Plaza is adjoined to the George Washington Carver Plaza, formerly known as ‘the block’.
Many questioned why he would invest and build in an area that once carried a bad reputation. “When I retired from the military, I sort of got angry about the way that my neighborhood was looking,” said Paulk. He explained that after he joined the military and traveled away he was unaware of what was going on in his community. He committed himself to make some improvements. During his first term, he decided to repave Gaskin Ave in the hope that it would put an end to the flooding.
He informed DouglasNow that he initially began endeavoring to purchase property in the area in 1998. It was a complicated process for Paulk after being turned down by a few bank loaners agreeing to it not being a smart investment. “Then I went to talk to my main bank, my wife,” said Paulk. Both agreed to the business move and acquired what was referred to as the Richardson’s property. They financed their property for a year until Douglas National Bank agreed to provide financial assistance.
Paulk revealed that one of their primary objectives for the plaza was to bring entrepreneurs back to the community. Paulk and his wife Chevelle wanted their property to serve as a location that would encourage the African-American community to become business owners. Another target was to offer reasonable rental prices. “My wife and I did not want rent to be an issue,” said Paulk. He admitted that they agreed to offer reasonable rates because they didn't want to create a hindrance for people who were interested in leasing.
Paulk Plaza already offers several different businesses and services to the community. There’s a transportation company that carries people to and from the doctor, a DUI defensive class, Friendly Market convenience store and a car wash. Located in the new building adjacent to the old plaza is Country Style Ribs, owned by Aaron Bennett and Cornelius Mizell, Nu Me barbershop, owned by Kent Paulk and a women’s clothing store scheduled to open in January, owned by Sonya Solomon.
Paulk mentioned that the plaza will bring a mass amount of foot traffic and has already turned into an attraction spot for the community simply because there are people in the area that don’t have transportation and that G.W. Carver Freshman Campus sits right across the street from the plaza.
“For future development in the coming years, I really wish there was an opportunity to acquire some of the other properties,” said Paulk. This will not be an easy task primarily because the older structures require new electrical, new plumbing, new flooring, new everything. “I could build something for cheaper,” said Paulk.
Paulk expressed that the response he has received from the community has been overwhelming and exciting. He specifically mentioned how the older community is excited about this plaza bringing business back to the area. Paulk wants to let his community know that he has already fulfilled his accomplishments and that Paulk Plaza is dedicated to them. “My success has always been embedded in my community,” said Paulk.
If you ever wonder what the P.G.P.U stands for on the sign, ‘Please God Protect Us.’
Country Style Ribs located in the new plaza
Wild Wood Village, formerly known as the housing authority Mayor Tony Paulk grew up in, sits right across the street from the new Paulk Plaza