Jeffrey “Jay” Johnson II is a man on a mission. His passion for real estate and community development through empowerment is evident to anyone he meets. Known as “Jay” to friends and family, this Wheeling native has joined the ranks of Wheelingites who have returned home to the Friendly City. After finishing out his business degree at Duquesne University, like many of his peers, Jay left the area to pursue his love of real estate in the big city. After residing in places like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, he soon found his way to Chicago and a lucrative career in real estate as a mortgage loan officer and real estate agent. His peers in Chicago quickly saw his skill to execute and lead effectively. They urged him to run for a city alderman position which would further allow to Jay to create much-needed change in his ward. Jay continued to learn about the city but was soon presented with a new opportunity that would allow him to return back east.
Jay learned from his late cousin Marrico “Israel” Harris (a pastor in Steubenville, Ohio) that there were a lot of new opportunities opening up in the Ohio Valley area thanks to the gas and oil industry. Jay then decided to return to Pittsburgh which allowed him to spend more time in his hometown of Wheeling. Having grown up in the East Wheeling area, Jay knew firsthand how the rest of the surrounding communities viewed East Wheeling. Folks who live outside of the area seemed to mostly have a negative view of this thriving and treasured neighborhood. Residents of the area possess the same pride and love for their community as much as any other community in Wheeling.
Jay’s dream is to provide a lasting and enduring change in East Wheeling. As the owner of Attention to Detail, the premier auto detailing shop in Wheeling and JAI Properties, his real estate investment business, he has been able to expand his love of entrepreneurship and real estate into a flourishing success. But as someone who wants to uplift and revitalize the community, he has not stopped there.
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He has created the non-profit group, East Village Community Development to bring change to the neighborhood for which he has great love and affection. He brings his vision for social and economic change to the community by activity working with other groups and individuals in the community who are like-minded and want to facilitate change in East Wheeling. His endeavors include community education toward homeownership, financial literacy, and helping support the redevelopment of entire blocks in East Wheeling. He has completed similar housing projects in Center and South Wheeling up to this point. Meeting with groups like REDEC, Grow Ohio Valley, NAACP, Men of Change, and selected members of city council, he is very interested in working with those who want to see revitalization in East Wheeling.
Jay hopes to bring safe and affordable housing, retail expansion, financial education, and health and wellness to the forefront of his plans for East Village. Recently, the Nelson Jordan Recreation Center and Clay School (both owned by the city), have been garnering quite a bit of attention and discussion about their potential for future development. Jay hopes to see these two East Wheeling properties renovated and/or repurposed to the benefit of the community. Along with family and friends who still reside in the area, Jay has been able to galvanize the community and city government alike in his concept of how this community can be part of the positive changes taking place throughout Wheeling.
Jay would like to see more residents return to the Ohio Valley, he believes affordable housing, community innovation, more employment and business opportunities would bring talent back to the Wheeling area. The REDEC group is made up of talented professionals who share his vision and are looking to make that change happen through their own hard work on several projects throughout the area. Jay was urged to join REDEC by his longtime friend Hayden Cook. Hayden is a well-respected educator who was also born and raised in East Wheeling. Seeing Jay’s keen business acumen, his ties to the community, and the desire for positive change, Hayden thought he would be a great fit for the organization. Focusing on real estate, Jay provides affordable housing for more than 50 residents in Wheeling and wants to continue this effort with the help of community groups and organizations like Wheeling Housing Authority, Wheeling Heritage, Reginal Economic Development, and more. He says these organizations have all made a significant impact on housing and should be recognized for their passion for community as well.
If you want to learn more about Jay and what’s happening in the East Wheeling community, you can find him most days at Attention to Detail, located on 10 S. Broadway St on Wheeling Island.