Calling All Property Rights Advocates

Please let your Greensboro City Council Member know that the you don't approve of the additional overlay restrictions that are being proposed for the Central Business District without the consent of a majority of the property owners and business owners. This is only for Downtown. It is unfair, unless it is applied to all areas of the city. And, not many of us want that.

DGI and others have prepared a 103-page document on design and other building restrictions for the CB. It is another instance of unfair treatment of the businesses operating downtown, especially small independent merchants and property owners.

Recently, the City Council approved selling a public parking lot to a developer who will put up a building that is out of character with the area. Plus, they gave him several perks and incentives that the rest of us didn't get when we moved into downtown and contributed to its revitalization.

This is not the first time that city property has been sold underhandedly to a developer without knowledge of the public and without an open bid process.

We, the people, can change the way business-as-usual is done in Greensboro. It might be too late for this stupid project; but, we should know what is happening in downtown and in other areas of the city that is unfair and sometimes illegal.

When one of our current city council members said that the businesses downtown want free parking and everyone else has to provide parking for their customers, she was wrong. She apparently didn't know that every bit of property in the Central Business District pays an additional 5% tax which is supposed to be used to help the downtown businesses. So, we do pay for parking and other amenities. (UPDATE: I was informed last night by a reliable source that the extra downtown tax is actually 9%)

And, downtown property owners are not the only ones being treated unfairly. It happens too often in all areas of the city.

Downtown needs your help. If you love downtown and you want open, fair government in Greensboro, do something. Find out what your present council person is doing and what his/her opponent in the next election plans to do. Go to forums, meetings, read the blogs and the news papers. And then, vote for a better Greensboro government.
Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your enthusiasm and wish more shared it. I couldn't agree more. I would like to respond to your comment about the "city selling its property underhandedly to a developer". Wachovia owned that building prior to its purchase and redevelopment. The price tag was 42 million dollars. In an effort to rid the city of the vacant blight that was the old Wachovia tower, the city engaged in talks with several developers to get their thoughts on how to solve the problem. More than ten developers, in state and out, declined to even do an analysis on the vacant building, rendering it unprofitable. Low and behold, the city came to its local developers and asked them what it would take to get rid of this blight. One answer: "help me break even and I'll consider it". Those were the words of Carroll. I don't understand why everyone looks down on a local guy making our city better. Please elaborate. One more additional important point directed to those property owners in the proposed Design Manual's overlay districts: you will be affected by this proposed downtown Design Manual whether or not you have plans for future development. The Manual does contain a "grandfather" clause for existing buildings and structure. A grandfather clause simply means that you will not be forced to bring structures existing prior to adoption of the Manual up to code. Your building will still be considered "non-conforming" in the eyes of the law. North Carolina law on area/use/code non-conformities mandates that non-conformities may not be increased. Thus, if your business is growing, you may not expand your building in any way such that the non-conformity will be greater than it was when it was grandfathered in. So, all business owners that have plans to grow their businesses, take heed. There will be no where to grow but outside of downtown GSO. -N_

Diane Grey Davis said...

I was not referring to the Wachovia Building; however, I believe that the Cement Park that was touted as a gift to the city, but is owned by a private non-profit, was built solely to help sell the Wachovia Building. Check out the biggest promoters of the park. I tried unsuccessfully for years to find out how much money the City of Greensboro contributed to the project, including lighting, curbs, sewers, sidewalks, etc. The park is maintained primarily with tax money.

Now, back to the original comment: One property that I was referring was a city-owned, block long area between McGee Street and Smothers Place that was sold to a developer for around $90,000 and I understand is now up for sale for around $400,000 because the project that he promised was never completed.
Another property sold without prior knowledge of the public was part of the parking lot in the 300 block of S. Elm Street and allowing the proposed building owner to rent parking for his tenants and customers. Other business owners cannot rent spaces there even on a "when available" basis, but this one building owner can rent individual spaces exclusively for his tenants.
Several downtown property owners have tried to purchase part or all of that lot. Their efforts were refused and then it was sold to a developer without public knowledge. A new building will be erected next to it on a lot where the old Mantleworks building stood before it was struck by "renovation lightning" and had to be demolished.
I think that if this builder wants parking for his customers, he could have incorporated it into the new building.
And did anyone notice that the new "guildelines" will not go into effect until this out-of-place building is completed?

Favoritism and underhanded deals are the rule rather than the exception in Greensboro.

One downtown success story is the old bank building on the corner of Washington and Elm streets. I think that it was purchased without incentives and has been renovated one floor at a time by the owners.