Downtown Needs Parking to Grow

Recently, I posted the question, “What do you want our home town to be? Should we grow or stay as is? If we grow, what does it look like?”

Overwhelmingly, the responses confirmed that we need to grow thoughtfully with a diverse employer base that supports Greensboro’s varied workforce. With more than 40,000 college students, Greensboro must make every effort to keep this brainpower in our community.

Over the past two years, more than $413 million in downtown projects has been announced, currently under construction or completed. In addition to these quality developments, downtown Greensboro has the potential to see more than $435 million of new development in the coming years, including two new and substantial office projects. For Greensboro to grow – and grow intelligently – we must have quality office space development to attract both new and relevant businesses.

A major point in the ability to build new office space is that bank financing is not available without a minimum number of dedicated parking spaces. This important fact in the recent parking deck discussion has been overlooked. There is a direct correlation between business growth, recruiting and retaining jobs, working with small and large employers and parking availability.

Downtown Greensboro has approximately $1 billion in tax base, almost 22,000 employees and 2,700 residents with more to come, including the first hotel in almost 30 years and an additional 287 apartments within the 99 blocks that comprise downtown Greensboro. The question we ask daily is, “What can we do as an organization to create an exciting hub that enhances a strong sense of community and develops a vibrant economic climate ripe for growth so that we can retain jobs and cultivate the company base to create new jobs?”

As with any generation, there is a lot of discussion about the millennial population. Millennials are picking the city where they want to live, and the jobs must pivot to where the talent is located. Currently, millennials comprise more than 35 percent of the workforce and will grow to 75 percent by 2025. They aren’t the future … they are the now generation.

It is estimated that in 2019, the millennial demographic will surpass the population of baby boomers at over 73 million. This is a staggering fact. So, for our organizations to be successful and for the planning benefit of our communities, we need to understand millennial workforce trends. Of course, it is also important to understand trends of other generations, including my own generation X and the substantial baby boomers. Roy Carroll’s recent acknowledgment of the waiting list his company is seeing for the new Carroll at Bellemeade Project shows a great mix of boomers and millennials.

Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) analyzed these workforce trends with four cutting-edge firms: Salesforce, GE, Motorola and North Carolina-owned Redhat. Reasons for locating to downtown hubs versus suburban locations include easy access to amenities, a built-in culture, worker energy, convenience, branding, connections and an increased tax base to serve the whole community. Motorola Chairman Greg Brown made this comment, “Where you work makes a difference. It just does. It matters.”

The last time Greensboro experienced downtown growth in urban office space was in 1991 when the now Wells Fargo Tower, Renaissance Tower and Lincoln Financial building (formerly Jefferson Pilot) were erected. This growth also corresponded with constructing the Bellemeade, Church Street and JP parking decks.

The questions about parking demand are certainly fair. And to back up the Greensboro city manager’s comments, the demand is greater today than it was in 2010. With the formal study that was complete and the development that has taken place over the last eight years, we are in a position now to upgrade the parking infrastructure to meet demand and to support future growth. Building proper infrastructure is a key component the city must provide. Smart growth means maximizing land value. For example, a typical big-box retail store produces a tax value of $1.1 million per acre, while an office building in downtown Greensboro generates a tax base of more than $44 million.

Companies understand the need to locate in an urban center. In discussions with several local companies, they have clearly stated their need for parking with new job growth. As a local example, it is publicly known that Lincoln Financial, the largest private employer in downtown, is currently investing a significant amount of money and effort in their downtown campus. One of the key aspects of this investment is that firms like Tuggle Duggins, who were in the newer “Pilot” building, are being asked to relocate, while folks like Henry Isaacson, who practiced law in the same office for many years, and his firm were not renewed on their lease in the “Friendly” building (formerly Bank of America). These firms consequently moving to new locations opens the door for Lincoln Financial to grow; and with the investment Lincoln Financial is making, it renders a clear statement that Greensboro is important to their future growth.

At the latest DGI annual meeting, we announced ambitious plans to recruit and work with companies to retain an additional 3,000 workers and an additional 1,000 city residents – both within the next five years. Public-private partnerships are a must in achieving this growth. Thus, we’ve identified key locations for various types of development. Now, we need to work together to create an environment that will not only attract people and companies to do business in the City of Greensboro but also create and bring new jobs, increase the tax base and attract quality residential opportunities. This is a key way to move the needle on growing the per capita income for our citizens.

Thoughtful communication as well as community input and support are critical. There is certainly room for improvement, and we all must work together to improve in this area. However, we also can’t risk losing the momentum Greensboro is currently experiencing if we want to be competitive with the tremendous growth in other major North Carolina and Southeast cities.

Now is the time to press forward.

Zack Matheny, President, Downtown Greensboro Inc.

Council May Close Safest Place in Town

Dear Editor,

“We must make a statement,” said Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn in response to a rare and isolated school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Her idea is to cancel the annual Greensboro Gun and Knife Show. What’s next? A ban on Greensboro pharmacies as a statement against the opioid crisis? Should car shows be cancelled due to the continued and even uptick in drunk driving deaths?

The Greensboro Gun and Knife Show has never experienced a shooting or death. It is perhaps the safest place one could find themselves in for a weekend.  There is simply no connection whatsoever between any gun show and a school shooting in Florida. Mayor Vaughn’s suggestion is typical of government knee-jerk reactions in the face of events and implements that they have no experience nor knowledge of.

Frank Swanson



Reporting Moral Leadership

Dear Editor,

Just a short letter to thank you for being so understanding and forgiving of President Donald J. Trump, who apparently was having a little romp with a porn star (or two) in the really tough weeks just after his son was born.  I’m sure you would have been just as easy going and let the past take care of the past had this story been about President Obama.

I mean the way you were so careful to not go overboard with the “birther” stories that were really worth considering for a period of several years, and how you avoided calling President Obama out for his occasional golf holidays (I mean, really, whose counting anyway?) One can only imagine how you would have stood right up for Obama had his name been attached to a fraudulent “university,” a bankrupt casino and a horde of unpaid contractors in his past.

I’m just so glad that the “conservative” press has put the idea of moral leadership out to pasture now that we have such a sterling example of personal deportment in the White House. Thank you.

Kent Boyles



Something’s Changed

Dear Editor,

My heart and prayers are extended, herewith, to all who are directly affected by the murders in Florida.  We are witnesses to a complete failure of our law enforcement entities to function as their mission dictates.  So many existing laws were broken by the murderer, and mission violations by those charged with preventing such disasters, that we now seem to be left with blaming the facilitating implement – the AR rifle.  In Friday’s issue of the N&R, two letters were published, one from Julien McCarthy and the other from Carole Tweed, and I have no personal issue with their view of this disaster, but with their failure to see the entire picture.  Congress will not likely be attacked because, as at the baseball practice, a shooter was prevented from doing further damage because of armed security personnel. This was not a “gun free” zone.  And in the case in Florida, if the shooter “held the trigger,” he would have done far less killing.  I think it is time to realize that our schools are a magnet for this type of violence.  It is not appropriate to consider violating the constitutional rights of millions of citizens even because of a very painful disaster.  Laws are in place that should have prevented this from ever happening.  The red flags were rampant and the system failed.

I have been a competitive shooter, probably since I was 14. I taught my daughter and son to shoot from about age 10. I taught them safe handling of firearms and instilled the responsibility of safety as incumbent upon them.  When they were in high school, every other vehicle in the parking lot, including those belonging to teachers, had a gun in them.  So what has changed?  There were semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons then, and purchasing a firearm, rifle or handgun was much less restricted.  I offer that guns have changed very little; parenting has changed remarkably, teaching has been changed remarkably and our children are growing up refusing to understand the word “no.”  Just my two cents.

Rich Carrera   



Limit Terms, Power

Dear Editor,

The Chinese dictatorship is getting ready to eliminate term limits for their leader. Without term limits President Xi Jinping can rule for as long as he likes, just like Mao Zedong and the emperors.

I am a big supporter of term limits. I personally think that all elected officials should be limited to one term, or two non-consecutive terms. “Our” president can prove that he is against authoritarianism and communism, and a supporter of democracy, by limiting himself to one term.

Any politician that thinks that he should rule, lead or “represent” forever is someone that should have his political power limited. Term limits would make our system more democratic and give more power to the people. Kings, tyrants, despots and emperors have always been against term limits for themselves. Political power corrupts. All political power should be limited.

Chuck Mann


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