Monday, May 29, 2017

Say No To Destination Districts: Updated

This is how it begins. Gentrification is now coming to District 2. Mark my words, in a few short years the working classes won't be able to afford to live in these neighborhoods and people will lose their homes to rising property taxes. From Fox 8, Abandoned Greensboro mill to be redeveloped into apartments, retail:

“We said District 2 is going to be a destination district,” Councilman Jamal Fox said. “In that district there is going to be the Mill District. It’s going to be the place where you can sit there and look on the map and say I’m going to the mill area.”

Notice I've made no mention of tearing down anything.

Some will ASSume I want it torn down. Others will ASSume I advocate saving it. In reality I advocate neither.

I grow very tired of people Assuming they can read my mind.

The good news: As far as I can tell. The Alexander Company has a much better reputation than any local developer who could have arranged the deal. Of course they do profit heavily from various incentive deals on various old properties they redevelop nationwide.

But I would like to see Print Works put to the best possible use for the community no matter if the building stays or goes. And frankly I don't believe a "destination district" as described by Councilman Jamal Fox is the best for our community.

Will a "destination district" provide anything better than minimum wage jobs? The people who work there won't even be able to afford the $640 a month rent required for a 1 bedroom apartment. I mean, damn, when I worked at Print Works all those many years ago even Cone Mills paid better than minimum wage. And health insurance was free if you were single.

Then there's the added congestion. I have a niece who lives next door to Revolution Mill. That's right, next door. Even though Revolution Mill is not yet finished the increased traffic is causing problems. People park in front of her driveway, throw trash into her yard, come and go all hours of the night. Even when Cone Mills operated there, the Mill Village never suffered those kinds of problems.

Will Print Works not cause more of the same sorts of problems for the existing community? And how will becoming a "destination district" benefit the existing community?

Damn people, I am the most literal person you will ever meet-- stop dreaming up things I never said. Concentrate on the issues. Is there a better use for this property? Could The Alexander Company be encouraged to consider better uses? Would Jamal Fox get off his ass, quit taking credit for things he had no part in, do his job, and approach the developers about other possible uses?

Uses that might better benefit the community?

You know, like a job training center for those high tech jobs we are told exist but no one in District 2 has the education to do.

There is no shortage of housing in Greensboro. And while some might argue there is a shortage of low income housing that isn't what they are building. Well, not according to the article on Fox 8.

Why is it downtown and the west side get the good paying jobs and we get housing projects?

Here's another possibility. I admit it is a long shot but "The World's Largest Sustainable Indoor Fisheries", Blue Ridge Aquaculture located just 45 minutes north of Greensboro, is looking to expand:

"Because of the high water re-use and the small footprint, these systems are very scaleable. The farm has developed a proven system that raises a healthy, sustainable food source. The business has generated attractive financial returns with a dedication to social responsibility. The demand for a healthy seafood product raised in the United States will continue to grow and be strong. With these concepts, Blue Ridge Aquaculture sees large-scale expansion very possible, and has developed a strong business model to achieve its vision. BRA is actively seeking investment partners to facilitate the expansion of its tilapia production."

I bet those downtown restaurant owners would love a local source of sustainable seafood.

"Currently, the United States imports over 80% of the seafood it consumes. Imported products arrive with little oversight for food safety, ecological impacts and social issues. This large seafood trade deficit is in stark contrast to the other food proteins we grow in the United States, chiefly poultry, beef and pork."

Is it not the job of Greensboro's Councilmembers and economic development gurus to seek out all kinds of economic development or are they limited strictly to real estate development to the detriment of Greensboro's working class poor?

Or perhaps we could put some of those aviation jobs there that City tax dollars are subsiding already? Don't give me that crap about East Greensboro being too far from the airport, some of those subsidized aviation jobs are in Forsyth, Randolph, and Davidson counties-- a lot farther away from Piedmont Triad International than District 2.

And folks, when it comes to cost, nothing is more expensive to build than residential, retail, and restaurants. For far less money The Alexander Company could gut the building and turn it into manufacturing space. Hell, the loading docks, railroad access, and fast access to Wendover Avenue, Cone Blvd, and US 29 (Soon to be an Interstate) still remains.

Surely there are better uses than a minimum wage "destination location" and the gentrification and destruction of a neighborhood that remains in good repair and is currently a good place to live and raise a family.

Yes, if these better uses are chosen then property taxes will also go up just as taxes go up with gentrification but with better uses come better paying jobs so people can afford to pay the higher taxes. In the long term Greensboro's tax base is better off.

And who knows, maybe you've got even better ideas about what could become of the old Proximity Printworks. Why must Greensboro always settle for less?

May 31, 2017: For those who have yet to get it, the sole business model of The Alexander Company is Historic Tax Credits, aka Government Incentives, Federal, State and Local. This will be their first job in North Carolina but for 35 years they have been taking taxpayer dollars across the nation. There is no law that states that historic tax credits must be used for residential and retail construction. Why not, since we-the-taxpayers are paying to put Millions of Dollars in profits into the already fat bank accounts of The Alexander Company, shouldn't we demand they build what is best for our community?

Give us good paying jobs where we live.