DETROIT (WXYZ) — Take a stroll through downtown Detroit and you will undoubtedly see an unprecedented comeback. But behind the corporate revitalization is another part of the city, home to three-quarters of residents who say their neighborhoods are still plagued by blight.
Many of those Detroiters are either leaving or waiting for the success of Detroit’s rebirth to trickle their way.
If the booming downtown versus the blighted neighborhoods in Detroit is a tale of two cities, then Alonzo Stallworth is the man looking to flip that tale on its head.
Around here, most people know him as Rapper King Yadee- the musician on a mission to bring back the charm of his childhood.
Stallworth grew up on Archdale, off 7 Mile on Detroit’s west side – it is a community that over the last decade has been void of critical investment, defined by overgrown weeds, trash, and deteriorating vacant homes.
A stroll down the street today, and you’ll find the picture looks a lot different all because of this hip hop producer’s dream to “buy the block” – one house at a time.
It all started with this one home. One home became two, two became three, and today, he owns eight different properties, all on the street where he grew up.
“I’m trying to level the playing field,” said Alonzo Stallworth, owner of Th3 Block Development.
The 37-year-old invited me into his ‘Home Away Home’ – his music studio. Turns out success for this rapper turned rehab extraordinaire wasn’t always written in the stars.
“I was five years old. It actually was on my fifth birthday, August 5th, 1989,” said Stallworth.
That’s when Stallworth woke up to find his parents had been murdered in their own home.
“What is it that drove you to push forward?” asked WXYZ’s Ameera David.
“My family, I call it the village,” said Stallworth.
But the village was also Archdale, the place he’d call home after being adopted by his uncle, the man he credits with teaching him the construction trade and the importance of giving back.
“Five of us in the house, he’d make sure we get to school, come back to the neighborhood, and take them to school,” said Stallworth.
So, when the opportunity came to buy up the abandoned houses that were helping to fuel crime and keep families indoors, he took it. Armed with a builder’s license, and money made off of music, in 2018 Stallworth launched the block development.
“These houses vacant for 13/14/15 years,” said Stallworth.
The newly rehabbed homes now attracting familiar faces.