Friday, January 2, 2015

What Happened To Glenwood?

Just before the new year while talking with a small group of Glenwood residents I told them I remembered a time when a Bessemer boy from here in what is now commonly called East Greensboro couldn't walk into Glenwood without getting into a fight. The same went for any Glenwood boy who walked into Bessemer.

I'm not condoning our behaviors back then but the old neighborhood gangs that existed in all of Greensboro's working class neighborhoods were all born out of a sense of pride in our own communities-- something we could us a lot more of today.

How did I fare in those fights? If I won one I can't remember it but those old Glenwood boys helped to toughen me up. Knives and guns? Yeah, we had 'em but they stayed in our pockets. There's honor in getting your ass whipped by a worthy opponent-- there's no honor in unnecessary force. There's no honor in taking on an opponent who obviously doesn't stand a chance against you, no honor in beating up little boys or old men. Only cowards do those things.

Fast forward almost 40 years to 2010, Glenwood is a very different place. Bulent Bediz has been there over 30 years buying and fixing up old houses as only a real artist can do. All in all Mr Bediz has bought over 70 properties in Glenwood over the years-- all with the intention of restoring the neighborhood to it's former greatness as was the vision of the Carolina Real Estate Investment Company who started building the town of Glenwood, North Carolina in 1909 and attempted to move the capital of North Carolina here by offering to give the State 25 acres of land free of charge.

Remember: in 1909 Raleigh wasn't any bigger than Glenwood.

In May of 2010 exciting things were happening in Glenwood. Triad Homes, a publication of the Greensboro News & Record, wrote of a roadmap for a comeback:

"The Glenwood Neighborhood Plan that community leaders and the city created lists a number of goals designed to improve the neighborhood’s future:• Increase homeownership and maintenance.• Improve walkability and bikeability.• Promote desirable infill development.• Reduce crime and perceptions of danger.• Promote vibrant, accessible retail and services.• Strengthen the community fabric.

“Glenwood may be a neighborhood at risk, but its leaders have participated eagerly in developing this plan for their neighborhood, and are passionate about improving conditions for present and future residents and property owners,” the plan’s introduction reads.

Implementation of the plan is expected to stretch out over the next decade and beyond, and will take the combined efforts of city departments, Glenwood residents and outside parties, according to Jeff Sovich, neighborhood planning coordinator for the city of Greensboro.

“It is really a multi-pronged approach to improve the neighborhood over time,” he said. “The horizon for that improvement is 10 to 12 years.”

The city has already implemented some aspects of the plan, such as improvements to sidewalks on Grove Street and upgrades of water and sewer lines, Sovich said. Some improvements will depend on future city budgets."

Since that time 60 homes have been destroyed and 40 more are on a city list slated to be destroyed for reasons Glenwood supporters cannot believe could really happen in a free country with government and laws designed to protect private property.

So what happened? The answer came just a few days later when at the request of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the City of Greensboro broke their promise to help save Glenwood and started working to destroy Glenwood piece by piece by enlisting the help of so-called housing advocates to paint horrible pictures of the very people who had spent decades working to save Glenwood:

"Glenwood residents a few years ago came up with a city-approved plan with suggestions for how they wanted to see their neighborhood developed.

It includes mixed-use development near Lee Street, such as retail, restaurant and office space, as well as multi-family housing.

But UNCG’s proposal requires the university to go deeper into the neighborhood than what the plan calls for.

UNCG would have to purchase the property on which it wants to build and could be faced with homeowners reluctant to sell.

In a letter recently mailed to Glenwood residents, Byers said current zoning allows the university to follow its plans for development in the area, with the exception of six residential lots along Haywood Street at Glenwood Avenue and McCormick Street."

Glenwood has no grocery store anywhere near its northeast corner and hasn't had a grocery store for roughly 50 years despite the fact that well over 10,000 UNCG students, Greensboro College, College Hill and other heavily populated communities are all close by. Bulent Bediz had entered into negotiations with the Aldi  grocery chain to place one of their stores into the planned mixed use development mentioned above. Aldi was receptive to the idea. Again, Mr Bediz was stopped by the powers that be from doing the very things Glenwood had been promised by Greensboro leaders-- the very things those same leaders claim to be doing for our communities today but never seem to accomplish.

You should be ashamed Nancy Vaughan. You should be in tears. You should be balling your eyes out in front of the television cameras begging Bulent Bediz for his forgiveness and announcing your resignation as Mayor of Greensboro effective immediately. How could you in good conscious preside over what has gone on? You've gone out of your way to trash Mr Bediz even going so far as to stage a mock display (Click on #14) against Mr Bediz when you knew all along he wasn't buying the property you and Brian Higgins claimed to be denying him. Bulent Bediz is a victim and you punished him for it:

"So, two weeks ago, UNCG demolished them. All except one.

Bulent saved it. To him, he sees that house as an example of working-class art, worthy of saving, despite the expense.

Crazy? Depends on who you talk to. But one thing’s certain: At 66, Bulent sees his legacy and it’s Glenwood.

He believes his longtime neighborhood off West Lee can become a haven for artists, writers, musicians, just any creative types who believe inspiration lies along the streets of Lexington and Haywood.

So, for nearly 20 years, Bulent has played a real-life game of Monopoly in Glenwood by buying houses. At one time, he owned 70 properties in a three-block area. Today, he owns half that.

The economy clocked Bulent. Since 2008, he’s lost 24 residential properties and four commercial properties to foreclosure. That’s not all. Since then, he’s lost his dogs, his mom, his money — he declared bankruptcy — and at least $300,000 in equipment and materials to thieves.

And he got beaten with a hammer.

It happened in May 2008, right after 5 p.m. on a Haywood Street sidewalk. Bulent caught the guy stealing copper pipe from one of his houses across the street from his home. When the guy walked out, Bulent tailed him.

He followed him for about a block. Then, the guy turned around.

He hit Bulent in the jaw, right elbow and right side before Bulent wrestled him to the ground and waited for the police to arrive. The thief got an 18-month stint in jail; Bulent got a swollen jaw and welts the size of half dollars riding up his right side. For two months, he could only open his mouth an eighth of an inch.

And Bulent stayed.

He’d been in Glenwood since 1976. There, in a house along Lexington Avenue, he took care of his son, David, during his early years, and he took care of his mother, Samime, during her later years. She died at age 91.

Now, Bulent is trying to take care of Glenwood."

The job of our elected leaders and city officials is to help and serve our citizens, not kick us when we're down. You, Nancy Barakat Vaughan, are the lowest of the low. And you cronies like Ben Holder and Brian Higgins who are all too happy to dirty their hands for you are just as lowly.

And Nancy, about Don... The secret is out. It's only a matter of time.