FORT WORTH — For many, East Lancaster Avenue still represents the other side of the tracks, a stretch of pavement long neglected that is ripe with crime and homelessness.

On a recent weekday afternoon, it took a News 8 crew about five minutes to spot a woman who identified herself as a prostitute.

"Donna" has been working the area since she was 16. She's 50 now and has noticed little improvement through the years.

"This has always been a high-drug, prostitution area," she said. "This is where people know to look for it."

In May, longtime business Marshall Grain finally moved out after telling our media partner the Star-Telegram the area's crime and homelessness was running rampant.

Laura Reyna runs one of the few small operations west of Beach Street on Lancaster.

There's now a tiny memorial in front of her Studio 74 because last weekend two people were killed and five others injured when shots rang out during an unauthorized, late-night birthday party at the studio.

"It has been heartbreaking," she said. "We try to be safe here. That really had nothing to do with what we try to do here for young people. We're pretty secure, have double locks, have an alarm. We do what we can to keep safe."

Fort Worth police have responded to nearly 400 calls on East Lancaster in the past two months, according to the city's online data.

Other major thoroughfares in town, like Berry, Hulen and Rosedale Streets, as well as Camp Bowie and Altamesa Boulevards, have each seen less than 200 incidents during the same time.

The majority of the Lancaster calls, which include everything from theft to prostitution to assault and homicide, occur near the corridor homeless shelters and then extend eastward to Oakland Boulevard.

But police say that doesn't represent a noticeable spike in crime, and longtime advocates say change is slowly taking shape.

"We're getting new businesses," said Don Boren, a lifelong eastside resident. "It will flow [soon]."

Boren and East Fort Worth Business Association president Wanda Conlin are constantly pushing for more redevelopment.

They were instrumental in getting the city to replace old lights with LED lights. The light poles are being repainted black, as well.

"It's going to look very nice," Conlin said. "It has to be attractive for people to come. We have a lot of young professionals buying on Meadowbrook Drive."

Meadowbrook is a few blocks over from Lancaster.

Conlin says some developers are finally showing interest in areas west of Oakland Boulevard.

"They never used to go past there," she says.

But the pair admits changing the perception of Lancaster won't happen overnight, or even in a couple of years.

"This didn't happen overnight and it won't be fixed overnight," Boren said. "It used to be a seven mile long shopping mall, with shops restaurants and movie theaters."

A new homeless shelter was announced for Lancaster in May.

Reyna says the area's homeless may deter some redevelopment, but she is confident things may improve over the long haul.

"I think in time place will realize what a gem this place is," she said.