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Innovation district proposed for downtown Greensboro


cityboi

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Greensboro developer wants to create an innovation district in downtown Greensboro that will rival the innovation quarter in Winston-Salem. While Winston-Salem focuses on biotech, Greensboro's district would focus on other sectors. Developer Andy Zimmerman is seeking a partnership with the city's universities to get the ball rolling.  His tech job project at the historic Gateway Center denim mill across the street from the Union Square University campus is just the begining. He has identified land south of Gate City Blvd for future expansion and there is plenty of it. 

Greensboro developer wants to create innovation district | myfox8.com

Edited by cityboi
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More on Andy Zimmerman's plans for a downtown Innovation District 

I've been saying this was needed for a long time. It would extend downtown South another mile. Years ago I had proposed it to be built on the southern end of downtown along the Greenway and where Marty Kotis purchased property between Gate City Blvd and the railroad tracks. Unfortunately he has other plans for that property and the land along the Greensboro all the way to the Salvation Army has already been developed with student apartments. It is a great way to utilize the land Zimmerman outlined but will it be enough land? They may have to build taller buildings

 

The red highlighted area is where I envisioned the Innovation District. Unfortunately other developers have purchased the properties and done other things with the land. I feel like those areas would have been better. The blue area is where Andy Zimmerman is proposing the Innovation District. 

 

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Edited by cityboi
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On 3/28/2018 at 9:08 PM, cityboi said:

Greensboro developer wants to create an innovation district in downtown Greensboro that will rival the innovation quarter in Winston-Salem. While Winston-Salem focuses on biotech, Greensboro's district would focus on other sectors. Developer Andy Zimmerman is seeking a partnership with the city's universities to get the ball rolling.  His tech job project at the historic Gateway Center denim mill across the street from the Union Square University campus is just the begining. He has identified land south of Gate City Blvd for future expansion and there is plenty of it. 

Greensboro developer wants to create innovation district | myfox8.com

This is exactly part of the problem with “what’s wrong” with Greensboro in the argument in the other threads about why the ACC is leaving the Triad, and the lamentation over what Greensboro needs to do to keep up.  It’s not by trying to one up and out do the neighbor Winston-Salem by creating another late in the day innovation district, but by building on strengths and cooperation and building it forward.

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2 hours ago, RichardC said:

This is exactly part of the problem with “what’s wrong” with Greensboro in the argument in the other threads about why the ACC is leaving the Triad, and the lamentation over what Greensboro needs to do to keep up.  It’s not by trying to one up and out do the neighbor Winston-Salem by creating another late in the day innovation district, but by building on strengths and cooperation and building it forward.

I think every city looks at what other cities are doing and tries to incorporate those ideas in their city. Even Winston-Salem's innovation quarter was not the first. I remember when Greensboro was the first city in North Carolina  to add electric city buses, the Charlotte mayor came to Greensboro and said "we need to get these in Charlotte" and there are other examples like ballparks, performing arts centers, I could go on and on..

The key is taking those ideas and UNIQUELY incorporate them. It was stated last year when the innovation district idea was floated in Greensboro that it would not be a carbon copy of the Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem which mainly focuses on biotechnology through a partnership with Wake Forest University .  Biotechnology is not one of Greensboro's strengths so this innovation district will not be in competition with the Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem. In Greensboro, it would be less about biotechnology and more about other technologies such as nanotechnology and other advanced technologies such as electronics, computers and engineering/aviation including designing these technologies. Greensboro's universities, particularly NC A&T already have leading programs in these sectors. In essence it is building on Greensboro's strengths which already have companies associated with those sectors. It is a way to attract more of those kind of companies and form partnerships with the innovation district. It serves as an incentive to attract those companies and with the partnership allowing them to design and or manufacture cutting edge technology.  At the same time it attracts high paying jobs to Greensboro. This has a multiplying effect. First it will attract a lot of high paying lab/design jobs and companies to downtown Greensboro. Secondly the district will help attract hi-tech manufacturing facilities in the outer areas of Greensboro associated with the district which would also be high paying jobs. Having the second element would set Greensboro a part from similar districts across the state because they don't really have the manufacturing side of it which is another one of Greensboro's strengths. This is more about Greensboro staying competitive with peer metro areas than uping one up over Winston-Salem.

Durham is also building a downtown Innovation District as well as Charlotte which will be more direct competition because their focus will be biotechnology as well. I think this is something you will see a number of cities doing all over the country.

 

More on the proposed innovation district in Greensboro. Looks like some leaders are starting to wake up. This has been discussed lightly by one developer a year ago but the city of Greensboro and all of the cities colleges and universities want to get involved. The timing of the news about what will probably lead to The ACC moving its headquarters and the reasons its moving can't be a coincidence.

 

While it will start out with about 150 acres, looking at other city documents show a physical downtown district could get much larger extending over a mile snaking through downtown all the way to NC A&T State University. It's going to be much larger than the initial outlined proposal. The plan does  not show the phase II which will increase it in size to about 450 acres.

This gives Greensboro an opportunity to build an innovation district with some magnificent architecture. I hope they don't blow it with lackluster buildings. The architecture really needs to reflect what the innovation district will be about and that's cutting edge technology. They need to hire the architects who have been designing the newest buildings on the NC A&T campus. There also needs to be parks, water features and plazas included in the district. I did a little search and state politicians are already asking for federal funding for the innovation district. The site would qualify for a special funding program because it is in a depressed area. Its going to cost quite a bit of money. First theyll have to pay off some property owners a fair amount to sell their land.

Last year The city of Greensboro was selected by Segra to become a smart gigabyte community. Segra would also partner in the proposed innovation district so this proposal has some legs.

https://www.wfmynews2.com/article/news/local/innovation-district-downtown-greensboro-plans-presented/83-581b4651-6aca-49d2-8c33-8d7483d034b7

Here is an outline plan

https://pub-greensboro-nc.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=11453

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Edited by cityboi
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