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Downtown Greensboro Developments

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Foundation acquires city site to protect it

3-26-04

By Jim Schlosser Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO -- The Weaver Foundation has reached a verbal agreement to buy one of the largest center city properties, 5 acres at East Friendly Avenue and North Church Street.

Weaver Foundation President Skip Moore, who confirmed the deal Thursday, said he had no idea how the property will be developed. He said the purpose in buying is to remove the land from the market to prevent it from being bought and developed in a way that wouldn't benefit downtown.

"It needs to be something to enhance the area,'' said Moore. "What that is, we don't know, but the land is too important to let it get away.''

The foundation is buying most of the tract, about 4.33 acres, from Duke Power Co., which has owned it for more than 100 years. The remainder is a small tract with an 18,000 -square-foot former trolley and streetcar barn that houses Carey Sound Commplex. The business will remain there until the foundation decides what to do with the property.

The Weaver Foundation -- founded in 1967 by builders Michael Weaver and his father, the late W.H. Weaver, and with assets of $21.8 million in 2002 -- is buying the land as part of its support of Action Greensboro.

Action Greensboro is a non-profit organization that promotes economic development, primarily downtown. It is supported by Weaver and six other local foundations.

Action Greensboro's projects include the minor-league stadium under construction on North Eugene Street and Center City Park, which is being developed in a block bounded by East Friendly Avenue and Davie and North Elm streets.

Susan Schwartz, Action Greensboro's executive director, said "land banking'' is one of Action Greensboro's strategies.

The Weaver Foundation is taking the lead in this area, she said, just as the Bryan Foundation led the ballpark effort and the Cemela Foundation helped pay for a consultant's study of downtown.

Jim Melvin, president of the Bryan Foundation, said, "Before you need it is the time to buy something.''

He said that once owners know their property is sought, prices rise.

Action Greensboro has been looking at the Duke Power-Carey site for years. It was once considered a possible site for the new baseball stadium.

Utility companies that preceded Duke Power bought the Friendly-Church land around the turn of the 20th century. Duke Power still has a substation on the eastern edge of the property bordering the railroad tracks. Moore said that substation will remain.

Duke put the property on the market in August 2000, with an asking price of $2 million. Before that, the company spent $3 million digging up contaminated soil and shipping it to a plant in Virginia, where it was cleaned and returned to the site.

The contamination resulted from the time utility companies used part of the site to manufacture gas from coal. Seepage contaminated the soil.

Duke Power has declared the site free of contamination. Nevertheless, the site is off-limits for residential use. Moore said that's about the only restriction on the property.

Moore declined to reveal how much the foundation was paying for the land.

Schwartz said she didn't know what the foundation was paying. She said it might be much lower than the asking price. She said Action Greensboro met with Duke Power people last year and urged them to either donate the land or sell it a reduced price.

Dave Maynard, Duke Power's district manager, said the company isn't donating the land "but it is being sold at a very favorable price.'' He said the company would have more to say once the sale is completed.

Moore said the foundation might eventually sell the property to a buyer with a development plan beneficial to downtown.

Or, he said, the foundation might donate it to a nonprofit or to the city.

The property borders the Greensboro Children's Museum and could conceivably be used for expansion.

Action Greensboro's long-range wish list includes a concert hall. The Duke property would seem logical for the hall. The land is in an area that Action Greensboro calls the downtown cultural district. The children's museum, the main public library, the Imani Charter School, the Greensboro Cultural Center, the Greensboro Historical Museum and the YWCA are part of the district, which is bordered by Davie, Friendly, Church and Lindsay. But Schwartz said a concert hall would be expensive, requiring added sound proofing to block train noise. Norfolk Southern Railroad freights rubble by the site each day.

She said the downtown's consultants suggested as one possibility for the property an I-Max theater. A proposed Atlantic Coast Conference museum also has been mentioned. "There are lots of opportunities,'' Schwartz says.

The Duke tract is one of several that Action Greensboro and other downtown boosters believe lend themselves to projects.

Among the others is the North State Chevrolet property, 6.5 acres split by Smith Street, in the northwest corner of downtown. The dealership was recently sold to Black Cadillac, which is moving it to East Bessemer Avenue.

Building on the past (Redevlopment plan for bordering downtown neighborhood)

3-26-04

By Jim Schlosser Staff Writer

News & Record

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Restoring a neighborhood's past isn't easy, but the city and Ole Asheboro residents believe they can do it with a blueprint prepared by a Pittsburgh design firm.

Next month, the Greensboro City Council is expected to approve the plan that aims over the next decade to restore Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and bordering streets to their early 20th-century quaintness and vibrance.

"Ole Asheboro has the components to re-establish itself as a desirable in-town neighborhood,'' says the thick report by Urban Design Associates.

The plan would re-create a multi-block commercial and residential district on city-owned land bordering both sides of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, from the bridge over Lee Street to Douglas Street.

The mixed-use district -- with retail shops on ground floors and residences above them -- would revolve around a firehouse built in 1904 that was part of a commercial block that thrived in the neighborhood. Now surrounded by vacant land, the firehouse and the former David Caldwell School nearby stand as the only reminders of the old business district.

The report recommends that the former school, now known as the Nettie Coad Apartments, become a neighborhood strong point. It would be part of a residential cluster that would include new housing built on the school's former playgrounds.

The plan would require all new residences in Ole Asheboro to be of the three architectural styles that define the late 19th- and early 20th-century houses that survive in the neighborhood. The report describes the styles as Ole Asheboro Victorian, Ole Asheboro Craftsman and Ole Asheboro Colonial Revival.

The report urges Ole Asheboro to become a neighborhood of inviting front yards and wide front porches.

"Front yards should be a hallmark of the Ole Asheboro houses,'' the report says, adding that where possible, parking and garages should be in the rear along service roads and alleys. The report calls for sprucing up the neighborhood's edges -- Bennett Street on the east, Arlington Street on the west, Florida Street on the south and Lee on the north.

Also, major improvements should be made to city-owned Douglas Park and to Dorothy Brown Park, a mini-neighborhood off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, with a stark landscape that needs redesigning.

According to the plan, improvements and new construction would be through private-public partnerships involving large and small developers and City Hall. Private investment to build the houses and retail buildings would amount to many millions. The city's share would be about $2.8 million for neighborhood infrastructure improvements, including old-fashioned street lighting and trees. The reports suggests beautifying creek beds and turning low-lying land unsuitable for building into urban gardens.

The city figures to recoup about $600,000 of its cost from selling more than 70 vacant lots it has acquired in Ole Asheboro during 20 years.

The City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the plan at its April 6 meeting, with a vote expected immediately afterward on whether to implement the plan.

At a recent City Council briefing, council members seemed supportive of the plan. A leader in Ole Asheboro says neighborhood residents like it, too.

"Everybody is excited about this plan because everyone had input,'' said Carl Brower, who lives on Douglas Street and heads the 11-member Ole Asheboro Planning Advisory Committee.

Dan Curry, a planner with the city's Housing and Community Development Department, said developers and home buyers will be drawn to Ole Asheboro because "the market is there for this type of development.''

His optimism is based on the success of South Side, a project of residential and retail townhouses emerging along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive between Elm Street and the bridge over Lee Street, where Ole Asheboro begins.

The report urges that Ole Asheboro take advantage of South Side and the renewal taking place downtown to market its own redevelopment.

Hired by the city in the fall of 2000, Urban Design Associates architects and planners met with residents, conducted focus groups, held a public meeting and did historical research to prepare the plan.

The firm, founded in 1964, has done work in the First Ward area in downtown Charlotte, developed for Wilmington-New Hanover County a plan for property going from rural to urban, and designed Baxter Village, a 6,200-acre development in Fort Mill, S.C.

Ole Asheboro draws its name from Asheboro Street, which was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the 1980s. From the 1890s through the 1920s, many of the city's wealthiest residents lived in grand houses along Asheboro Street. Some of the city's most prominent churches, including Westminster Presbyterian, Centenary Methodist, First Friends and Asheboro Street Baptist (now Friendly Avenue Baptist) started in Ole Asheboro.

Ole Asheboro's decline began in the 1950s after the widening of Lee Street wiped out homes and businesses that bordered it. As more people in the neighborhood acquired cars, they moved to the suburbs.

Until the 1960s, Ole Asheboro was occupied by white residents, with black neighbors confined to a few blocks on the east and west fringes. Then, the neighborhood flipped from white to black. The white churches moved to western Greensboro.

Eventually, absentee landlords started dividing old dwellings into rooming houses. Others were torn down along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and replaced by apartments.

Transients moved in, and drug dealers and prostitutes followed.

The report blames the city for some of the decline. The neighborhood's commercial district vanished after the city bought land and demolished structures for an inner loop expressway through Ole Asheboro that was never built. The city has held on to the land.

The city acquired other property when it bought and demolished houses that had deteriorated beyond saving.

"By 1970,'' the report says, "Ole Asheboro was a shadow of its former self ...''

But the report concludes enough old houses remain to form a core that can be expanded with new structures built to resemble the old.

"With ample vacant land, an active community organization and high quality but under appreciated housing stock,'' the report says, "Ole Asheboro is finally well positioned to attract a range of development opportunities.''

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Posted

Its good that they are planning ahead even though they dont know what will be developed yet :)

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Posted

Land banking is very important. If only city leaders had done that many years ago, the Greensboro Coliseum would be downtown. Land is becoming very precious in downtown Greensboro because leaders don;t want land to be developed into something that will have very little impact. Action Greensboro is going to need land to roll out future projects that are on their list. I think the land that was just banked will likely have an IMAX theater with some sort of science musuem. The Children's Museum is already next to this land. Maybe even a mixed-use development that might combine an IMAX/multiplex with the ACC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. Zoning prevents residential from going on this land so it will likely be an interesting attraction(s) built here.

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B) Smothers Place Lofts will be located in Hamberger Square in the Historic Old Greensborough downtown historic district. These condos are just a skip and a hop away from the Southside mixed-use residential development and are located on Elm Street. Restaurants, bars, entertainment, night clubs and theater are within very close walking distance and right next door to Smothers Place is Greensboro first rail station which was built in 1899. You can still see the cobble stones that were put in place around that time. based on the renderings, This will be a 5-story structure which is one floor more than the Governors Court condos that were built last year. In the photos, the boared up brick building is the historic Carolina Hotel which was to coincide with the name of the Carolina Theatre. The Carolina Theatre is a block away from this site on Greene Street. The old Carolina Hotel will likely be redeveloped into a restaurant/night club. Most of the more than 30 units have already been sold. This demonstrates the desire for people who want to live downtown.

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Posted

Excellent update!!! Things are moving to the right direction for DT Greensboro and the Triad.

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Posted

The ballpark is definately under construction. Here is the web cam showing the progress.

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Posted

It will be completed in time for the 2005 baseball season.

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Posted

I'm not sure what the estimates are but I know they want to see those numbers in the thousands. That will likely lead to more compact development.

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Of all the cities in the Triad, Greensboro seems to be the only one that is constantly adding more and more residential in the center-city. Everytime you turn around, another residential project is being announced. One feasability study even suggested that the market is ripe for at least 70 condos a year for downtown Greensboro. Several years back the market really wasnt ripe for any. This is changing because more attractions, businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues and night clubs are popping up downtown. The ballpark will also spur a major development of an urban residential project just north of the stadium.

33 CONDOS PLANNED FOR DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO

(Housing near Blandwood Mansion will help protect site, a preservationst says.) This development will have its own parking deck.

GREENSBORO - Downtown, suddenly a hot spot for residential development, will boost 33 new condominiums when construction wraps ups a four-story building near the Blandwood Mansion.

The Boulevard Co., a Charlotte-based developer experienced in center-city projects, is planning the project for roughly half-acre lot at the southeast corner of Blandwood Avenue and West Washington Street. Construction, scheduled to start this fall, is expected to finish late next year.

"We like cool buildings in cool locations," Said John Hart, Boulevard's vice-president of operations.

Boulevard agreed in 2002 to buy the site from Presevation Greensboro Inc. for $275,000. At the time, company President Chris Branch said he expected to include commercial space on the building's ground floor, but those plans were scrapped.

Preservation Greensboro operates the mansion and the group's president Bill Seawell, said new condos are in keeping with what the group wanted to see on the site, which is now a parking lot.

"It is our goal to protect the eastern flank of Blandwood and protect the Mansion," he said, "and with this particular situation, we think we've done that." (Blandwood Mansion was the former home of Governor John Motley Morehead. He was responsible for bringing the railroad to Greensboro in the 1800s)

Hart said Boulevard' is aiming the condos at younger residents typically drawn to a newly emerging downtown.

Condo prices for the project, dubbed 411 West Washington, range between $92,000 and $148,000. Three of the units have been sold. If built, the development will add to the residential project that have been built downtown in Recent years. (Governor's Court, lofts in renovated buildings on S. Elm Street, Southside and Smothers Place Lofts).

Center-city dwellers play an important role in urban renewal efforts, downtown advocates say.

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Posted

here is a rendering

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B) Here are updated photos I took of Greensboro's downtown ballpark. Land across the street from the ballpark has been purchased to create a stadium plaza with an elaborate water feature that spells messages with water.

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SMOTHERS PLACE LOFTS CONDOMINIUMS

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SOUTHSIDE DOWNTOWN RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT

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There is more than just new townhomes and live-work units in the Southside neighborhood. New single family homes designed to look like homes from the early 20th century are being built.

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restoration of early 20th century homes are also in the works in this neighborhood.

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HERE ARE SOME VARIOUS PHOTOS OF THE FISHER PARK DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD.

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The high-rise building in the photo is the Hampshire condo tower.

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Posted

More Southside townhomes. These are older photos.

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The structure in the middle of the picture are apartments that resemble Charleston Style homes.

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Once completed Southside will have over 80 townhome and livework units. Here is a rendering of another residential project downtown on 411 West Washington Street. Greensboro is now averaging about 100 downtown residential units a year, morec than any other city in the Triad region. Several years ago there were hardly any projects under construction. Its sort of like the snow ball effect. The more residential project go up, the more there are in the planning stages and its getting to the point were there are multiple major residential projects going on at the same time.

411 West Washington

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I love the tunnel effect these townhomes create looking towards Greensboro skyline. The theme here is obviously the view. Just wait til its completely done including a changed streetscape. It will look even grander when the Rail Yard Park artificial river is complete. It will becoming one of the best photo shots of downtown Greensboro's skyline.

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I dont think it will be flowing water. They are calling it a river. However one of the concepts show it as a chain of thin river like lakes that stretch a mile through downtown along the railroad tracks. If they were to build a flowing water system, there is great opportunity for a water fall because the land drops of as you head east of Elm and Davie Streets.

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right now its a proposal but its a realistic proposal that community leaders plan to take action on. I believe it will happen. Its just a matter of when, how much is it going to cost and where the money comes from. The local foundations seem to have deep pockets because everytime you turn around they are dishing out 2 million for one project and 3 million for another. These foundations are paying for the new ballpark and they are still dishing out millions for more downtown projects. I expect money will come from them to build the linear park known as "Rail Yard Park" with the waterway as well. It will be part of a downtown greenway system that will connect with the city-wide greenway system.

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Just curious, with those townhomes, I'm assuming that they've made room for vehicles somewhere. Are the cars going in garages, or are they parking on the side of the streets?

I hope it also has transit hookup as well.

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Land across the street from the ballpark has been purchased to create a stadium plaza with an elaborate water feature that spells messages with water.

Nice pics! How exactly will they accomplish this?

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Just curious, with those townhomes, I'm assuming that they've made room for vehicles somewhere. Are the cars going in garages, or are they parking on the side of the streets?

I hope it also has transit hookup as well.

Yes the Garages are in the back so they are not too visible from the main roads. But I must admit even the garages look great! But alley ways will also townhome owners to get to their garages.

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Nice pics! How exactly will they accomplish this?

Thanks! I actually dont know how it will be accomplished because this was how it was described to me. But it will probabally be really cool. I glad they are doing some really cool thing to spruce up the ballpark so that its not just a stadium. I hear there will be some other surprises as well

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Posted (edited)

Here is a list of new business in downtown Greensboro over the past year

New BUSINESS DOWNTOWN (2004-2005)

New Business Downtown

Type

Opened

(approx.)

Ambleside Gallery

Art Gallery

Mid June

Artmongers

Art Gallery

May 2005

Cut's Unlimited II

Barber, Beauty & Nail Salon

June 2005

Da Vinci's Market

Market/Grocery/Wine

Nov 2004

Dulce Aroma

Coffee Shop

2004

Elm Street Ice Cream-n-Grille

Restaurant

Apr 2004

Fincastle's Diner

Restaurant

May 2005

Georgie's on Church

Restaurant

Jan 2005

Greensboro Grasshoppers

Ballpark

Apr 2005

Greensboro Scenic Tours

Service

Edited by JerseyBoy

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Wow that's a lot of new stuff in dt Gboro. I'll have to check some of it out!!

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