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A Record Of Failure

While Mayor Perkins and the Piedmont Triad Partnership are talking about extending Greensboro's water and sewer lines to the Alamance County line to help sell commercial properties owned by Mayor Perkins' buddies, the folks in Montgomery and Moore Counties are already 5 years ahead in building a 3400 acre Mega Park-- said to be the largest industrial park in the history of North Carolina.

Does that sound smart to you?

Meanwhile, the 2500 acre North Carolina Global Transpark established by the State of North Carolina over 20 years ago, still has 5,775 empty acres. And the GTP has railroad access, 2 Interstate highways it's own airport capable of handling the largest airplanes in the world, State funded incentives and 900 acres ready to move to today.

And to add insult to injury, in East Greensboro alone, over 2000 acres of undeveloped commercial and industrial properties lie unused with water and sewer already in place. If you'd like a tour shoot me an e-mail to [email protected] and I'll arrange it. In my younger days I used to hunt and fish those very properties.

See map.

I bring this up because Mayor Perkins and his developer buddies are the current "leadership" of Greensboro and Guilford County and have repeatedly tried to develop outlying areas of the county while ignoring infill development as was made the City's development policy several years ago. Previously, Mayor Perkins was pitching Greensboro taxpayers' dollars be spent to develop the Heart of the Triad-- a 7.500 acre site on the western edge of the county.

Meanwhile, the industrial park at I-85 and Mcconnell Road, built by Mayor Perkins and paid for by Pete Goria, has 2 buildings and 1 tenant. The Eagle Equipment building across Mcconnell Rd. was built by my uncle in 1970. I used to hunt and fish there as well.

See map.

Greensboro-- especially East Greensboro-- is filled with empty commercial and industrial properties that already have access to city water and sewer and yet all the Mayor and his cronies are interested in are developing downtown and the farthermost reaches of the county. Why? Because they own the land and they want to develop it with taxpayer's dollars. Have we forgotten that Mayor Perkins was a partner in the Shoppes at Gunter’s Crossing? Private developers no longer want to deal with Robbie Perkins because he has a history of loosing clients' monies so Mayor Perkins plans to waste your money instead.

See map.

And these are the people you want in charge of building a performing arts center in Greensboro?

Edited by billyjones
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A Record Of Failure

While Mayor Perkins and the Piedmont Triad Partnership are talking about extending Greensboro's water and sewer lines to the Alamance County line to help sell commercial properties owned by Mayor Perkins' buddies.....

Nice post, I appreciate the thoughtfullness.

Stuff like this is exactly why North Carolina needs urban growth boundaries. Too bad they would never pass because of all the development cronyism.

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It doesn't make sense because a couple of other in-state cities have their's downtown; it's because performing arts centers often serve as an anchor development for other projects and generates larger amounts of pedestrian activity which contributes to more dollars being spent at downtown establishments after events held there. Other cities realize this and that's why they have built their's downtown, not simply because other places did it.

All the more reason to build the PAC in Northeast Greensboro where development has long been ignored and is most needed.

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All the more reason to build the PAC in Northeast Greensboro where development has long been ignored and is most needed.

That doesn't mean that every proposed development should go in that part of town. The PAC most definitely belongs downtown.

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Here is the website for Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments currently being built across from NewBridge Bank Ballpark. The website includes a live construction cam. The rental rates are pretty much the same as CityView at Southside. I'm not really digging the site plan though. There are parking lots that front the street.

http://www.greenwayatfisherpark.com/

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Construction photo

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Also construction is near completion on phase II of CityView Apartments at Southside. This phase includes a 4-story apartment building. I'll have to take some pictures.

Edited by cityboi
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I came across this website. An architecture student at UNC Charlotte used downtown Greensboro in his project. Stephen Salazar designed a high-rise residential tower east of Center-City Park. He has included some renderings. With the demand for apartments downtown, I would love to see a developer take on a high-rise apartment project. The demand is certainly there for one.

http://archinect.com...ansion/18119488

Edited by cityboi
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Here is the website for Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments currently being built across from NewBridge Bank Ballpark. The website includes a live construction cam. The rental rates are pretty much the same as CityView at Southside. I'm not really digging the site plan though. There are parking lots that front the street.

How in the world did the city let them get away with that?

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How in the world did the city let them get away with that?

I think its a great project. The architecture is good for this part of downtown. There could have been a little more architectural detail and maybe I wouldn't have designed it completely brick. (maybe add some stucco on the upper level with awnings to add a little color and texture to the buildings) The buildings do look a little too much like the CityView Apartments. But as a former architecture student I can tell you site plan could have been done better. The buildings look like they were just randomly placed on the site with really only one of the building facing the sidewalk/street. There is too much parking bordering the roads. If I were building this project, I would have selected one of two layouts. A village layout/design or a doughnut layout with all the buildings facing the side walks with parking hidden in the center. You want to encourage pedestrian traffic on the side walks by having the apartment buildings directly fronting the roads. It should have that dense urban feel and I would have designed it to fit the site. It looks like the developer took a generic building layout and forced it on the property. The site really does determine how the buildings are designed. It looks like the developers got it backwards. But overall i'm pleased with more residential coming to downtown and especially near the ballpark. My only suggestion is that downtown should have a variety of architectural styles in future apartment projects in other areas of downtown. Everything shouldn't have that historic retro brick look and in some ways I think Greensboro has gone a little overboard on that retro brick in the center-city. Buildings can have a historic look without all that brick. Also I would like to see a large apartment complex built near the more modern downtown buildings with a sleek and modern urban design. Developers need to give people options.

Unfortunately developers are not architects and that's the downside when you have multiple developers coming into one area building projects. They are going to do their own thing and nothing looks cohesive with the surrounding structures. I'm afraid that might be the case with the High Point Rd/Lee Street redevelopment plan. One example that comes to mind in the center-city is Arbor Place condos and the new YMCA. They are across the street from each other and they just don't mix together. Also the YMCA was poorly designed. Architecturally, Arbor House is so isolated to the point that it looks like it doesn't belong there. This part of downtown needs a lot of work. The west side of downtown is the most suburban part of the center-city. This is a part of downtown that you rarely see in photos and for good reason. Across from the new YMCA on Market St is a suburban style Hardees with a drive-thru. Then there is the nearby Carolina Bank headquarters which looks nice but the site plan was designed for the automobile, not the pedestrian. The bank has a drive-thru. No downtown bank should have a drive-thru or any type of downtown establishment for that matter. Carolina Bank also used cheap concrete blocks for a retaining wall separating the parking lot from the road. Its the kind of blocks you see at shopping centers like Target or Walmart.

Arbor House

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Hopefully one day we will see this huge parking lot gone. This is not what you want to see in a downtown setting

YMCA - very suburban. You access the main entrance from the parking lot, not the street.

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One reason why downtown Greensboro seems so small is because Elm Street really has the only true urban pedestrian environment. The only real successful downtown "pedestrian" oriented project away from Elm Street is Southside. Davie Street still has the 1970s street lighting that looks like it belongs on a highway. "urban renewal" killed Davie Street which is one block east of Elm Street. Davie Street use to be a mirror image of Elm Street. Some buildings are gone due to fire but others were torn down. The 14-story King Cotton Hotel built in 1926 was one of those buildings torn down thanks to the News & Record building built in its place. The News & Record property takes up 3 city blocks along Davie Street so there is limited opportunity for redevelopment and new store fronts.

This is what you will see on Davie Street. Hard to believe Davie Street use to look like South Elm Street. The vast majority of Davie Street south of Friendly Ave is made up of old parking structures and backside parking lots for buildings on Elm St.

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A cluster of historic buildings that burned down in the great Davie Street fire on April 13, 1985. A total of seven historic buildings on Davie Street burned down.

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In fact much of downtown use to look like South Elm Street. In this photo in the late 1960s, you can see the King Cotton Hotel on the far right. The tall brick building on the far left next to the old Wachovia Building was the original O'Henry Hotel.

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Another photo of the King Cotton Hotel on Davie Street

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The hotel's demolition in the early 1970s. This signaled the downfall of the once bustling Davie Street. Today Davie Street seems like a back alley to Elm Street. We can only hope the New & Record will move out of downtown and sell its property.

snapshot_kingcotten.jpg

Edited by cityboi
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Cityboi, thanks for sharing the historical photos of Davie. I've only lived here since the mid 2000's and assumed the entirety of pedestrian wasteland along that street was due to urban renewal; I had no idea there was a fire in '85 to further the damage (though the N&R building would've already swallowed much of the corridor). I've often joked that if I won the lottery I'd buy the News & Record just so I could tear down that building.

You're spot-on in your assessment of the intersection of Spring & Market. Truly a shame that we continue to build suburban structures downtown. Each of those buildings represents welcomed recent investment in downtown but are also each a wasted opportunity that now scars our city. While far more appropriate for their setting, the Greenway apartments, and Cityview to a lesser extent, are also somewhat suburban in nature. Both are on the outskirts, have a cluster of low-rise buildings with a shared clubhouse, and are just a gabled roof and vinyl siding away from the standard formulaic suburban complex.

One could even look at the greenway itself as being in essence a bike/ped beltway around what should already be the most bike/ped friendly part of town.

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I think CityView was a better planned apartment project. While CityView does have a few issues such as not having enough parking, the developer did build the apartments up close to the street with parking in the rear. Have you seen the new CityView building? Its pretty nice. Upgraded amenities include stainless steel appliances, office areas in some of the apartments and outdoor terraces on the top floor corner units. The new building also has an elevator.

CityView at Southside. This is how an urban apartment project is suppose to look in terms of layout. Notice CityView doesn't have parking lots facing the road.

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Edited by cityboi
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other downtown news. A blues lounge will be opening in the old Miller Furniture building on South Elm St. It will feature live music focused on the Blues and will include a VIP section and billiards hall. Also a Martini Bar will be opening next to the blues lounge

millerfurniture2.14.12.jpg

Edited by cityboi
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  • 3 weeks later...

Downtown Greensboro Trip Report: (sorry about stretching the thread -- I didn't know where else to put it).

Because I have been lamenting the absence of downtown baseball in Charlotte I decided to take a "road" trip to Greensboro to catch a Grasshoppers game and check out the city. I grew up in Durham and have lived in Charlotte for a decade but Greensboro has never been one of my favorite cities so my expectations were low.

I rode the mid-day Piedmont and walked down Elm to check into the Marriott. I had driven by before but I was nonetheless appalled at how poorly the hotel addresses the street. The Marriott was honestly the worst example of an urban hotel I had ever seen (although the inside was OK in an early 80s corporate sort of way). Judging by the prices the Marriott is charging through the summer there is definitly a need for another downtown hotel.

I took advantage of the great weather and walked down Lindsay to the old ballpark then up through Aycock (a nice surprise, lots of great houses) and then across the bridge into Fisher Park (one of my favorite urban neighborhoods in the state). The walk was very pleasant (save the sidewalk disappearing on me on Lindsay st) but I only saw two other pedestrians during my two hour walk. When I stopped for an early dinner at Fisher's Grill I discovered where everyone was. Great crowd, cheap drinks and good service -- I really liked that place. After a few beers I headed for the ballpark.

All I can say about New Bridge Park is WOW. A great design (except for all the netting in front of the grandstands) and a HUGE crowd (I can only assume that thirsty Thursdays are very popular). This was easily the most fun I have ever had at a minor league game (and I have been to a ton). As I took in the view from the third base side I, for the first time ever, began to feel like Greensboro was an actual urban place rather than an endless line of sprawl from Gibsonville to Clemmons -- I was very impressed. The only bummer was seeing how few units are occupied in Center Point (I counted 6 occupied) -- while this situation is certainly not unique to Greensboro I do hope Greensboro's other intown residential projects have sold/rented better.

Headed down to South Elm after the game where I was VERY impressed by the mix of businesses (nice to see stuff other than clubs and restaurants) and architecture. It reminded me of downtown Wilmington back in the early 1990s -- there is tons of potential for the Southside. Seeing what South Elm is likely to become made me wish that Charlotte had kept its old buildings.

After a great breakfast at Smith Street Diner (loved that place) and a nice chunk of time reading the paper and watching trains from the pocket park at Davie and MLK, I hoped on my train home. Overall it was a fantastic 24 hours. No need to drive, plenty of interesting stuff to see, good people watching and cheap drinks. I am now a fan of Greensboro. If the city could get its act together with transit (a light rail route connecting UNC-G and A&T, a route going up the old rail ROW to Battleground, commuter rail to W-S and more frequencies to Charlotte and Raleigh) and get some more professional employment downtown Greensboro could easily become the "Paris of the Piedmont."

Edited by kermit
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^Did you get a chance to check out City Center Park? I've been to Greensboro a few times since it's been completed but never had the chance to go (but hope to this summer on my next visit up that way). It will also show you what Charlotte's been missing in terms of a signature urban park.

If you haven't done so yet, your next trip for a minor league game should be Greenville, SC.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two of the buildings at the Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments are now open and residents have moved in. Several other buildings and the clubhouse is still under construction. Looks like they are trying to get a jump ahead of CityView Apartments which is expected to open its new building next month.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here are a few video clips about CityView Apartments at Southside and the new "Green Line" apartment building. The new GreenLine building has a number of upgrades from the other apartment buildings. One unique feature the new building has are solar panels on the top of the roof. Its the most energy efficient apartment building in downtown Greensboro.

[media=]

Edited by cityboi
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The Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments are ahead of schedule. The first tenants have already moved in the first building. The other buildings are still under construction. Rents range from $749 to $1,225 per months (about the same as CityView) The developers haven't decided exactly what they will do with the rest of their property which is directly next to NewBridge Bank Ballpark. They said it will be based on demand. The Jones brothers are considering retail and commercial or more residential but it appears they may be leaning towards more apartments if rental demand stays strong. Demand for apartments in downtown have been so strong, there is a waiting list to get into CityView Apartments. Condo sales are slow but rentals are in strong demand. People want to live downtown but they don't want to take the risk of buying in this economy. What ever is built there will overlook left field of the ballpark and the Jones brothers hinted months ago that part of the second phase may include a mid-rise or high-rise building. I would prefer it be a mix of residential, entertainment, retail and commercial instead of one or the other. With that many apartment units in one area, there would be a demand for retail and entertainment. This isn't the first time a high-rise was proposed to overlook the ballpark. Several years ago a developer wanted to build an office tower over looking the stadium. A company was looking to relocate downtown but city leaders didn't respond in time for the company and the project was scrapped.

http://www.news-reco...ead_of_schedule

Edited by cityboi
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I found out why the apartment buildings at the Greenway at Fisher Park are arranged the way they are. The developers wanted to hide all the parking and have all the buildings face the street but because of topography reasons, doing so would have cause the project to go over budget. They had to keep construction cost down to keep rental rates competitive with CityView and the Greensborough Lofts complex.

Edited by cityboi
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One of the last downtown eyesores closes its doors. The Greensboro Inn, a cheap motel used as a rental (used for prostitution and drug deals) is now closed in an agreement with the city. I have been waiting for this place to close. I can't believe it has taken this long. Its interesting because a large parcel of land adjacent to this motel has been considered the most likely site for a performing arts center. The owners were aware of the problems and have been working with the city. They now say they have plans to convert the property into retail shops, boutiques, some franchised restaurants and maybe even a Starbucks. The site is located across the street from the Greensboro Historical Museum and a block away form the downtown Marriott.

http://www.news-reco...boro_inn_closes

http://triad.news14....weet-for-owners

Edited by cityboi
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New restaurant called Pointe Noire opens downtown on South Elm Street. The restaurant will serve African and Caribbean dishes and will have reggae music playing in the background.

Another African Cuisine restaurant opened downtown on Greene Street back in Decmber.

http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/2012/06/12/pointe-noire-restaurant-opens-in.html

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WGHP FOX News Buckley report.....why Greensboro should build upward instead of outward.

http://myfox8.com/20...wntown-success/

It really frustrates me I when I continue to see developers build sprawling horizontal developments instead of more dense vertical developments. Its a waste of valuable and limited downtown real estate.

Edited by cityboi
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