Monday, June 6, 2016

Was Billy Yow Right All Along?

Over a decade ago when a group of Greensboro City Council Members and Guilford County Commissioners traveled together to Chattanooga, Tennessee to see how that city had been revitalized, then County Commissioner Billy Yow surprised everyone by telling them all they might as well get back on the bus as Greensboro had no river.

Now, in his article, Neverland, Fec writes of his recent trip to Greenville, South Carolina:

"It’s possible the layout of downtowns like Greenville, and Spartanburg for that matter, accommodated commerce in agricultural products, unfortunately including slaves.  Greensboro never had need of such a broad boulevard and so downtown lacks one, to its fatal disadvantage.

Greenville’s location in the foothills affords it the necessary ridge line and adjacent ravine for world class aesthetics. Downtown Greensboro is comparatively flat.

Whereas there was a downtown redevelopment effort years ago, its success was greatly aided by these convenient advantages.  Equidistance between Charlotte and Atlanta on I-85 is another attraction, as are the 60 mile proximity to Asheville and 100 miles to Columbia.

To be sure, Greenville suffers from terrible income inequality and urban blight like everywhere else, but unlike Chattanooga, it isn’t galling.  Heading in any direction, you eventually arrive at I-85 or 385 on the perimeter with the de rigueur big box retailers.

Apparently, SC law makes expansion of the city limits difficult, so sprawl is not encouraged.  Additionally, SC has a history of offering incentives, landing companies like Greenville’s BMW, Michelin and their massive civic footprint.  Of course, once critical mass is achieved, a positive feedback loop of prosperity draws young people and provides the future Greensboro merely preys upon."

Indeed, the dream that Greensboro's developers have long been selling at taxpayers' expense is in-fact a Neverland but as I continue my series  If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro I will tell you what must be done to make downtown Greensboro and the rest of Greensboro a success for many decades to come.