Representatives from BCG, NSLC, Rivers Casino, the City and the NSCDF cut the ribbon at 1324 Woodland Ave. (Photo by Kelsey Shea).

by Kelsey Shea

Brightwood residents are continuing to see slow and steady change on Woodland Avenue.

The Brightwood Civic Group, The Northside Community Development Fund, Rivers Casino and The Northside Leadership Conference celebrated the complete renovation of 1324 and 1407 Woodland Avenue in Brightwood Thursday March 24.

The two homes were the second and third houses on Woodland Avenue completed by the BCG as part of its Woodland Avenue Revitalization project.

“It’s easy finding money for projects like this,” said NSCDF Executive Director Mark Masterson. “But what really great about this project is that it shows what can happen when a bunch of volunteers get together and really sweat it out and make these projects realities.”

Several years ago, BCG identified neglected rental units and absentee landlords as the root of many of the problems in Brightwood and decided to make home ownership an initiative in the neighborhood, — specifically on Woodland Avenue, which BCG President Diane Annis-Dixon calls an “artery” in the community.

The BCG acquired seven decrepit houses on Woodland Avenue and Brighton Road that they are now redeveloping into single family homes with the help of The Northside Community Development Fund and Rivers Casino, who are helping fund the project.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority assisted the Woodland Avenue Project by providing deferred-payment second mortgages for the home buyers and the nonprofit organization, Care Ownership, donated free building materials, fixtures and appliances.

The new owner of 1324 Woodland Ave., Kira Rivera, decided to buy in Brightwood  because of the tax incentives and the convenient commute to the law firm where she works on the North Shore.

“I’m really excited to move in,” Rivera said, and hopes to close on the house move in by early summer.

The other two new Brightwood residents who bought 1407 and 1324 are also young, first time homebuyers.

“We can have wine nights,” said Meghan McAfee, who purchased 1320 Woodland.

“What’s not to like about this? It’s great to have such young people purchasing these homes and moving into the neighborhood,” said Annis-Dixon.

Looking forward, Annis-Dixon said that the BCG hopes to renovate 1213 Woodland Ave. or 2049 Brighton Rd., both of which the community group already own.

City Council President attended the event and said “I look forward to pounding nails at the next batch of houses.”