Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) not only has big plans for the future of downtown Greensboro, it has strategies for how to accomplish those plans.
The DGI Strategic Vision Plan 2030 was supposed to be presented to the City Council in May, but COVID-19 got in the way and the revised Strategic Vision Plan 2030 was presented to the City Council at a virtual work session on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
DGI President Zack Matheny made the introductions but didn’t make the presentation.
After the presentation, Matheny did talk about one part of the plan he believed could be accomplished quickly to move the downtown forward – a Container Hub.
Container Hubs use reconstructed shipping containers to create commercial areas. Usually the old shipping containers are repurposed to become retail shops, restaurants and coffee shops often for start up businesses.
Matheny said that the Greensboro Coliseum had used a couple of containers for the White Oak Amphitheatre and found that retrofitting them could be done quickly and at a pretty low cost.
Matheny said the optimum location DGI had chosen for the proposed Container Hub was the parking lot at the southeast corner of the Washington Street and Davie Street intersection. He said the city owned the parking lot and it was underutilized.
Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann suggested that DGI enlist the private sector to make some investment in the project.
Matheny said they would be seeking both private and public funding and the idea would be to rent the spaces to entrepreneurs who might be unable or unwilling to sign a five-year lease on a brick and mortar building. Matheny said the leases for the container space would be six months to a year and that DGI would manage the property.
He said the plan would be to have 50 percent minority owned businesses in the Container Hub.
Matheny said, “This is doable. We can do this within the first year.”
Former chair of the DGI Board of Directors Paula Pierce said that they had looked into other places that had launched container hubs including Wilmington to get an idea of costs and the timeline.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “This could help a lot of entrepreneurs. This is one I’m really exited about.”