The City of Greensboro has put a halt to a major downtown development project with what can only be termed a bizarre demand.
The Carroll Companies (which owns this publication) has been told by the City of Greensboro that the Carroll South of the Ball Park development must include a stormwater retention pond.
The $140 million Carroll SoBP mixed-use development is designed to wrap around the city’s Eugene Street Parking Deck with frontage on Bellemeade Street, North Eugene Street and Friendly Avenue. The plans call for Carroll SoBP to include a hotel, office and meeting space, with retail on the ground floor and residential on the upper floors. The development was made possible by a complex real estate transaction that resulted in Greensboro buying the Old Guilford County Mental Health property from Guilford County, selling some of that property to Carroll Companies and Carroll Companies trading some of the property it owned to Greensboro to provide the required land for the Eugene Street parking deck.
As part of that real estate transaction, Greensboro is in the process of demolishing the old mental health building.
The City of Greensboro has taken the position that because there were 400 square feet of flower beds around the mental health building, Carroll Companies will have to include a stormwater retention pond in the mixed-use development. That 400 square foot threshold is the same size as a 20 foot by 20 foot living room.
According to the City of Greensboro, the City of Greensboro was not required to build a retention pond for the Eugene Street parking deck because, while the parking deck was built on the same mental health building property, the particular portion of the property where the parking deck was built, including the portion provided by Carroll Companies, did not include flower beds.
It is also worth noting that the February 1 Place parking deck and hotel development currently under construction on Market and Davie Streets was not required to install a retention pond. The Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, also built by the city, which opened in 2021 and consumes almost an entire city block was not required to build a retention pond.
In fact, you can search the entire downtown Greensboro area and you won’t find a single retention pond.
According to the city, it is crossing the 400 square foot area of pervious surface threshold that creates the requirement for the retention pond. If 399 square feet of flower beds were being replaced with impervious surface, then no retention pond would be required.
The Greensboro City Council held its annual two-day retreat this week and spent a considerable amount of time discussing the need for more dense development for Greensboro to become a more vibrant city. The decision by city staff to require retention ponds in the urban center city takes Greensboro in the opposite direction.
And having a flock of Canada geese waddling along the streets and sidewalks downtown is definitely not the image of Greensboro that the City Council is working hard to promote.