Monday, January 12, 2015

The Great Union Square, Gateway Center Fraud

The State of North Carolina, City of Greensboro, UNCG, NC A&T University, GTCC, developers Bob Isner and Bob Chapman, Cone Hospital and others are all moving ahead with scaled down plans to build Union Square Campus in downtown Greensboro to house a nursing school.

Amazingly, at last Tuesday's Greensboro City Council Meeting, council members Sharon Hightower and Jamal Fox (Districts 1 and 2) pushed to build Union Square. Here's what they weren't telling you:

The current plan for Union Square is 83,000 square feet.

Gateway North in District 2:

  • A combined 140,000 square feet between eight existing buildings.
  • Potential to add more buildings for a total of 450,000 square feet.Two on-site training rooms equipped with flexible seating arrangements and ample audio/visual technology.
  • Tenant benefits include access to event, meeting and training spaces, as well as high performance broadband IP connectivity, teresence suite, 232-seat auditorium, and walking trails.
  • Within minutes of North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Nine miles to Central Business District."

Gateway South in District 1 with nothing but a retaining wall between it and Councilwoman Hightower's back yard (Remember having the gateway workers remove the blacksnake from your driveway, Sharon? I literally have spies watching your homes.)

  • Six Building Pads (25K SF footprint each, two-story)
  • Infrastructure and Grading in Place
  • 8,000 SF Raw Unfinished Space
  • 1,800 SF of Finished Space
  • Two (2) 1,000± SF Labs
  • Ample Free Parking"
Sharon claims in front of the cameras and on Facebook that she wants to see development in east Greensboro but pushes for more downtown development first. Sure, Greensboro elites are making promises to them both, the exact same promises they made 20 years ago:
Nothing changed. They claim over $150 Million was invested in the East Market Street Corridor but that includes a football stadium on Lindsey Street. Roughly $148 Million was spent by the State of North Carolina on the NC A&T Campus over the course of 20 years but they claim it all as east Greensboro economic development.They didn't keep their promises then and they don't intend to keep their promises now.
And damn, you still can't walk across East Market without getting run down by a speeding bus!!! Streetscaping was supposed to fix that.

Yvonne Johnson, Goldie Wells, T Diane Bellamy Small and others played this game for many years and got us exactly nowhere-- what makes Jamal and Sharon think they can do any better? They can't, not as long as they follow the rules set forth by the status quo. Black folks on my side of town are already saying worse about the two of them than I've ever said about them. I believe they both know why. Are they right? Prove them wrong.
If Union Square doesn't get built the UNCG / A&T  nursing program moves to east Greensboro because that is where both schools own empty buildings. That is if A&T's rapidly crumbling nursing program is allowed to remain in existence by the regulatory boards which have already close parts of their program. 
The Bobs (Isner and Chapman) are under contract to build a mixed use development-- who says a mixed use development must include a college campus? Tell them to meet their terms of the contract, build the development or back out entirely leaving the City owing them nothing. Let them sue the City if they want-- City Council does it all the time. What? Are other city council members afraid of the discovery process? Nancy? Robbie? Zack? Yvonne?
There are others who would like to build bigger projects there if the Bobs don't step up to the plate. And let us not forget, the Bobs never developed the property the City gave them on MLK several years before. So why are we letting them do it again?

But wait, the story gets bigger. The tenants, COIN and Advaero at Gateway South are there in name only. They don't do anything, They didn't bring Greensboro jobs. Gateway South is in reality a ghost town when it comes to commercial tenants. Anyone can have a local telephone number in any city in the country redirected to any other telephone in the world and no one knows the difference.

And at Gateway North, the SERVE Center, the most significant presence in the entire park was making plans to move over a year ago and hasn't filed a Federal Form 990 since the year 2000. Are they even still in business? And if so are they legit?

Sharon Hightower e-mails this morning to say:

Billy, this building is in District 2,  It has now been downsized to 83,0000 due to GTCC not needing as much space.  I support my colleague with efforts in his District as he supports mine. 

Dear Ms Hightower, judging from the information I have given you the fact that Union Square is tucked away in a tiny downtown corner of District 2 hardly justifies the millions of dollars of taxpayers moneys that will be spent when larger, empty buildings owned by the entities involved already exist.

Better taxpayer investments could and should be made in our communities and you, Sharon Hightower should be at the forefront of seeing they are done instead of whining about where developers chose to spend their money. You are a steward of the taxpayers' money, not the developers' money-- get it?