ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Built in 1958, the massive buildings of the Park Plaza shopping center near the intersection of New York Avenue and Park Row Drive in Arlington have deteriorated quite a bit. It’s large rear walls of two of the sprawling buildings are a patch work of painted over graffiti, dirt, peeling paint and rust stains.

“If you saw it from this side it looked like an abandoned building,” said Ignacio Ruiz whose home is in the neighborhood butting up to the center.

The back of the oldest strip mall in Arlington is right in the face of neighbors like Ruiz.

(credit: CBS 11 News)

(credit: CBS 11 News)

The head of an Arlington non-profit couldn’t believe how bad the wall looked.

“Even from working in the inner city of New Orleans and St. Louis, this was the ugliest wall I’d ever seen,” said Mark Joeckel of Arlington Proud. “So that’s when the light went (on). There’s our first project!”

Joeckel tweeted out a picture of the wall and asked if anyone wanted to paint it.

“I didn’t care what he did with it. I said if you want to paint it one solid color I’m good with that. He said No we’re going to have some artists out there and do some murals. Even better!”

The property owner put a base coat on the wall and then nineteen volunteer artists drew together for the job.

High school students, a city councilman, professional artists, each expressed themselves on a section of wall.

The smaller sections soon merged into one massive piece of community art.

There are rolling hills, a giant bee on a honeycomb, a telephone pole the appears to be a tree trunk blending in the tre mural of trees behind it.

Now, neighbors don’t avoid the wall.

They are drawn to it. Many stroll the length of the building looking for the many interesting twists and turns hidden in the massive painting.

“So the art is awesome and then it draws people to sort of linger and hang — a sense of, hey, there is something going on,” Joeckel said.

“Its nice to see that this is not an eyesore any more,” Ruiz said. “its amazing honestly, drawing people together to help a communty out. You know, social media does so much to bring different people together. Who knows without that if this many people would have collaborated to get something like this done?”

Arlington Proud is now working to paint the back of the second, large building. Meantime, the parking lot for the first mural will be an ‘open house’ complete with music every third Thursday of the month.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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