From the W-S Journal:
Downtown could be at turnaround point
Civic group points to revitalization projects
By Richard Craver
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Downtown Winston-Salem still has many revitalization projects to accomplish, but local officials said yesterday that the community might come to see 2004 and 2005 as pivotal years for its turnaround.
More than 200 people attended the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership's annual meeting at the Adam's Mark Winston Plaza Hotel.
Partnership officials said that downtown is showing more signs of vitality. Among the 2004 accomplishments they pointed to were the renovation of the Winston Towers; expansion within Piedmont Triad Research Park; seven residential developments completed, under construction or announced; and increases in attendance at music festivals and the Films on Fourth series.
Steve Snelgrove, the chairman of the partnership, said that it's becoming clearer that a strong downtown is important to the entire community. "You get it that this is significant to our quality of life, but also those of future generations," Snelgrove said.
Snelgrove said that the partnership has a "full plate of work to do" in 2005, including assessing its own activities. The partnership also plans to focus on such issues as downtown safety, proposed repairs to Business 40, finding a new use for the old Forsyth County courthouse and enhancing marketing efforts.
"We may say that these were the years that Winston-Salem began to look forward to what we can be instead of looking back at what we were," Mayor Allen Joines said.
Valecia Crisafulli, a revitalization consultant for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was the keynote speaker at the meeting.
She said that the revitalization efforts are making downtown more attractive to young people and retiring baby boomers.
Many downtowns, she said, are appealing to creative young professionals with condominiums or lofts, restaurants and nightlife.
But Crisafulli said that baby boomers are pursuing the same amenities and in many instances have more disposable income. They also have a greater interest in being closer to their children or grandchildren than previous generations.
"This generation is retiring differently, such as retiring in stages," Crisafulli said. "Now that their children are out of the house, they are opening small businesses that they always wanted to have. Downtowns need to tap into that interest.
"They want walkable downtowns, eclectic food and entertainment choices, same as the creative class."
Crisafulli encouraged residential developers to provide housing for "all price points" because that is a big key to a diversified downtown.
The partnership recognized five groups and individuals for their contributions to downtown revitalization. They are Downtown Thai and Sweet Potatoes restaurants, Speakeasy Jazz nightclub, Time Warner Cable and Dale Pollock, the dean of the school of filmmaking at North Carolina School of the Arts.