The businesses that call North Baltimore’s Waverly community home now have a new director.
The Waverly Main Street Board of Directors welcomed Jermaine Martez Johnson late last month as he took his position as chief development advocate of all companies located around the Greenmount commercial corridor.
Johnson takes over the position from Ebony Edwards and says he is excited to work with the many boutiques, shops, and restaurants that line Greenmount Avenue and the surrounding blocks.
“I want to see this area prosper even more,” Johnson told the AFRO about the new position. “I'm excited to be back with Waverly Main Street. It's known as a vibrant and viable commercial district and I'm just excited to be a part of where it’s going.”
Johnson took the job after two years as director of legislative affairs for Baltimore Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District).
He had served on Waverly Main Street’s board from 2007 to 2009, and also worked for six years with the Greater Homewood Community Corporation as the community development coordinator.
The Waterloo, Iowa native, a Wartburg College graduate in communications and public relations, joined the staff of then-Mayor Martin O’Malley, where he worked in O’Malley’s Office of Neighborhoods, focusing on north and east Baltimore from 2003 to 2005.
“We're all very excited to have Jermaine on board," said Gordy Lifson, treasurer of Waverly Main Street and owner of Greenmount Loan and Jewelry Company. "He comes to us with a very unique combination of passion for Waverly and tremendous experience in the field."
“Jermaine has the ability to work well with people and I think we're going to see more businesses come to Waverly. The area is an increasingly safer place to be and I think that's going to increase with Jermaine's efforts," said Lifson, who has been in business on Greenmount Avenue for 25 years.
Johnson says that his biggest challenge at this point is “making sure the merchants are stable and that they feel comfortable and safe.”
With four murders alone in the Yau Brother’s Carryout in the 2900 block of Greenmount, Johnson says advancing security measures for all businesses is a must.
“Waverly Main Street has worked very closely with the owners of the Yau Brother's Carryout and they've applied for façade improvement grants,” said Johnson, when asked what will be done about the business many residents have called to be shut down. “They've been making major improvements to their building and to their space so it is more visible and lit at night and that's why Waverly Main Street is here.”
“When issues arise, we work with those merchants and the members of the community to really come up with solutions for everybody- beneficial for the merchants, their business, and also the surrounding community.
Waverly Main Street brings to ten the total number of neighborhoods with the special designation by the Baltimore Development Corporation.
Other sections of the city targeted for similar enhancement of small businesses include Highlandtown Main Street, Pigtown Main Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street. Waverly Main Street operates as far south as 28th street and as far north as 34th street. Businesses found one block east and one block west of Greenmount Avenue are also included.
Begun in 1840, the Waverly community, originally called Huntingdon, is now worlds away from the six buildings that began the neighborhood near the 3100 block of York Rd.
Today, residents and visitors enjoy a year round farmers market every Saturday, rain or shine, with a plethora of clothing stores and top notch Baltimore eateries, such as Pete’s Grille and Trinidad Gourmet.
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