Johnson, who dropped out of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach after two years because he ran out of money, pays $450 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in a church-owned building on Williams Avenue. So far he's holding on, with his meat market job and the help of relatives.
Brown and his wife own a four-bedroom house in the black Grove and, along with other property owners in the black Grove, they stand to do okay, whether they stay or submit to the mounting pressure to sell. "People trying to buy everything over here," Brown reports. "My wife's got a lot of property up in Kissimmee. I don't want to go up to Kissimmee. But if she goes, I'm goin'. See, me and my wife been together since sixth grade! Woo!"
As the black Grove undergoes a face-lift and rents
soar to more than
$400 a month, long-time residents like Alice Johnson
must find another
place to stay
"Ha, ha, ha!" he laughs dismissively. "I got $800,000."
"We enjoy the peace and serenity of the neighborhood," Brown's nephew Anthony explains. "We don't want to go nowhere else."
"Then again don't ever say what you're not going to do," his uncle cautions. "I'm 62, my wife's 62. You know, shit, we're not no damn kids no more."
"When push comes to shove, they come and offer $1.2 million, you might take it," King offers. "But then again what you going to do with $1.2 million?"
"Take care of my nephew," Brown replies.
It all reminds Brown of "old man Dale," who in the early Seventies owned a laundromat near the site that would become CocoWalk. "I remember when old man Dale, who had that wash house up there, he was talking that day. He says, 'Shit, man, they can't give me enough money to move me.' A guy came that afternoon and say, 'Uh, how you like them figures?' [Dale] looked, and told everybody he was going to close it down."