East Greensboro to see wave of economic developmentBy Yasmine Regester / January 29, 2016
A District 2 community meeting was held at Bennett College Tuesday night. District 2 council member Jamal Fox presented to the community what he called “a roadmap for the future of District 2.”
Fox noted that it is economic development and investment that will help address some of the district’s most pertinent issues such as unemployment, poverty and homelessness.
With a population of 55,247 residents, District 2 has an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, higher than the city’s average of 5.6 percent.
“It’s important that we come together as a community. We’re going to be a district people will be happy to invest in,” said Fox.
The city developed, five-year plan, marked East Market Street, Cone Boulevard / US Hwy 29, Bessemer and Summit Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr Drive, and South Elm Street as key areas for future growth and development.
Presently, District 2 is seeing renovations being made to Revolution Mills on Yanceyville Street, where local brewery Natty Greene’s will be expanding and creating 27 new jobs by the end of 2018, and investing more than $14 million in upgrades. Self-help Ventures Fund, a Durham-based non-profit, is helping with the revitalization of Revolution Mills and the Renaissance Shoppes at Phillips Ave.
Fox also referred to the hard-fought for Renaissance Co-op grocery store at the Renaissance Shoppes at Phillips Avenue. Slated to open in April, it will help address the lack of access to fresh and healthy food in the area, as well as create 32 new jobs. In addition to the co-op, residents have been working on establishing a community garden on Phillips Avenue.
The Kmart Distribution Center on Penry Road is being revamped and will create 80 new jobs for the district.
War Memorial Stadium on Yanceyville St. is also on the list of projects and will be getting a facelift soon from N.C. A&T State University, who acquired the facility from the city in 2015. Union Square Campus, the joint nursing school between N.C. A&T, University of North Carolina Greensboro and Guilford Technical Community College is a nearly $4 million investment into the district, while there is more than $200 million in planned and completed projects along the Downtown Greenway.
Construction on the Nealtown Connector has already begun, which will connect the eastern Urban Loop to East Cone Boulevard.
East Greensboro resident, Damon Williams, expressed concern about District 2 residents getting hired to work on the projects going on in the district.
“There are millions of dollars of investment coming into our community, but that doesn’t mean anything if the people who live here aren’t being hired to work on these projects,” said Williams.
In a city of 20,000 low-income renters, most of whom reside in Districts 2 and 1, residents also gave suggestions on rehabbing old homes through a city/community partnership.
“District 2 really looks like a city within a city,” said resident Rohan Dunbar on the dilapidated housing conditions on Greensboro’s eastside. “Housing is just as important as employment.
Poor housing makes people feel less than, or that’s all there is in life. We can start repairing and uplifting our community just by the housing we can provide.”
The city is currently soliciting feedback from residents on Greensboro’s housing and suggestions on how to improve.
Fox said he wanted the residents to know that there is a strategic focus on District 2 and some progress has been made.
“This is what we said we wanted as a district, and this is how we get there,” said Fox. “I believe 2016 is our year to renew our community.”