Sunday, January 4, 2015

And Come They Did

The following was published in the UNCG student newspaer The Carolinian, December 7, 1999:
"If You Build It, They Will Come

Bulent Bediz is an artist who wants to build a community for artists. Writers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, potters, woodworkers... — creative individuals who would live and work in close proximity to one another, to energize one another in a charged atmosphere that effects artistic growth and development. No, not in the woods out there somewhere but right here at the edge of this campus, in the Glenwood neighborhood.

The idea for a community for creative individuals evolved as Bediz acquired a number of vintage houses adjoining his house on Lexington Avenue in a solo effort to combat neighborhood decay. Fixing them up, however, proved a much bigger task than he had anticipated. A city program he had hoped would help with the financing of the renovation costs took forever to materialize. Instead of doing the rehabbing one-by-one as he had envisioned, he found himself attacking several construction projects at the same time. Undaunted by the myriad of problems he had to face, he has persisted and persevered in pushing forward towards his vision. Now that the city is helping with the project he expects a faster pace to show results.

Bediz speaks with much enthusiasm and conviction about what he is trying to achieve. It is a unique situation here, to have such a row of houses with the backyards all joined together. You have the feeling of country right in the center city, just a few minutes walk from UNCG. The idea is to have the people who live in the houses use the backyards as a common space, with dependency buildings, vegetable gardens and what have you, to create a community. If this idea works, then it can stand as the nucleus of an expanded project, revitalizing the neighborhood at the same time.

A UNCG graduate of the MFA program in painting and sculpture (1972) who briefly taught here, Bediz is well-acquainted with this campus and its relation to the rest of the Greensboro community. He sees that the University has expanded to the limits of its natural boundaries and that the economically attractive area to the South, the Glenwood neighborhood, will be the next area to develop to cater to the needs of the bigger campus. He hopes that this inevitable development can be a planned, controlled one that will build on the character of the neighborhood and not demolish it.

Bediz is a dreamer. He is also an energetic doer. He doesn't just talk about preservation, he does it with creative innovation. Rebuilding a house to him becomes an art project. A master scavenger and recycler, he turns blackboards from an old school to slate flooring. Bathroom stall panels of pink Tennessee marble from a federal building become countertops for a kitchen. Many architectural artifacts like doors, windows, flooring and the like have come from the houses that were on this campus that were demolished to make room for the UNCG baseball stadium. UNCG students have helped him with the work either as volunteers or slaving at minimum wages, from demolishing to- you name it— carpentry, sheetrock, painting, landscaping, etc. He welcomes anyone with ability, enthusiasm and interest to participate in the project. Check it out. You might even end up a resident of this community."

And Come They Did

Because of the work of Bulent Bediz, people started moving to Glenwood, buying and renting homes in a neighborhood that had long been awash in crime and poverty. They started pushing for historic neighborhood designation to permanently save the neighborhood filled with unique architecture-- some of it rare anywhere in the world. People came to Glenwood, Bulent Bediz started buying and fixing more houses, bankers saw his work was in demand and were happy to loan him money.....

Then Greensboro's developers got scared because unknown to Bulent and the residents of Glenwood there had long been a secret plan for the City of Greensboro to allow Glenwood to fall into decay so that developers could buy the properties at auction and resell them to UNCG at a huge profit. Mr Bediz and the residents of Glenwood were causing property values to go up, not down. The City stopped helping Bulent because developers would have to pay more for the houses after they were repaired.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan called Bulent Bediz the cancer of Glenwood.

All the while UNCG contended they had no intentions of crossing Lee Street. They lied all along. Are you, the residents of Glenwood and members of the UNCG community aware that UNCG owns an empty 4 year old North Campus just 9 minutes from UNCG that is almost as large as UNCG itself?

That's right, empty. EzGreensboro's Jackie Billeci is the former assistant to the dean there and she assures me the campus is unused and has never been used since it became the property of UNCG several years ago. And yet with over half a million square feet there and on East Lee, UNCG still has the "need" to steal Glenwood and parts of downtown Greensboro away from Bulent Bediz, the rest of the Glenwood Community and Greensboro.

Crime began to increase because the Greensboro Police Department deliberately ignored Glenwood while concentrating their resources on other parts of Greensboro. And police chiefs or division commanders who tried to address the problem were forced out or reassigned to patrol cars relieved of their commands.

The proof is in our hands. The team at and other media outlets has been on this story for months. Books are being written. A documentary film is being produced. All hell is about to break loose! Dozens of us already know the truth! The names you will know from Greensboro's and UNCG's most elite boards. Greensboro's Irving Park will tremble in fear as well certain people all the way to the mountains and the coast. My advice: take your golden parachutes and jump, your flight is about to crash.