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« As others see us | Main | The path of peace »

Jun 07, 2011

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Abner

It's about a level playing field
for those looking to expand or open businesses.

AMEX site example.

How many sites were shown by whom?

Who walked with the cash,
while taxpayers pick up the tap for the water station?

DGI and AG seem to only be interested
in making money for thier own
and retaining power to continue doing so.

Ed Cone

Actually, this particular conversation was about nurturing a creative culture downtown.

That said, I don't think the ballpark or Center City Park are really about hoarding money and power -- they're actually very nice things to have downtown, and are enjoyed by many people from all walks of life.

hugh

City Center Park is a monument to a private corporation mothballing a currently undevelopable asset while gaining PR and kudos in the process.

Don't think for one moment that if the economy improves at the time the city's lease expires that the park won't be developed for profit.

Fec

Nobody's saying there shouldn't be a social media-driven grassroots effort to promote downtown. But it's been handled badly so far. It requires someone with PR skills to shepherd the message. Rather than an ill-defined FB group containing random comments, an actual website developed and maintained by merchants and residents makes more sense.

Ideally, the effort should be undertaken by DGI or AG. But their present sites seem more like marketing efforts. Perhaps 99Blocks is the better venue. It certainly deserves our support.

Ed Cone

Center City Park is a very nice downtown amenity that many people have enjoyed over the years, continue to enjoy today, and will enjoy for years to come.

I don't believe your crystal ball is correct, Hugh, but let's assume for a moment that it's possible that the park could some day be sold -- I'd much rather have years and years with a nice park than years and years without one.

hugh

"let's assume for a moment that it's possible that the park could some day be sold -- I'd much rather have years and years with a nice park than years and years without one. "

I'm not poo-pooing the park, only pointing out that there's a reason it's private and wasn't donated outright to the city.

Ed Cone

Maybe this has changed, but isn't the land owned by the Bryan Foundation and Community Foundation? Why and how could two non-profits turn a beloved park into a real estate development?

hugh

It's owned by Downtown Renaissance, LLC.

sean coon

this is my mental map of creativity at play in downtown:

- triad stage
- flatiron, the green bean, studio b, artistika shows featuring local musicians
- the idiot box (it's a hit or miss)
- design archives vintage clothes
- elsewhere's nuttiness (and i mean that in a good way)
- a plethora of galleries below the tracks
- the first friday market and random busking
- lyndon street artworks
- carolina theater shows featuring a mainstream act w/ a local band (rare).... classic movies at times

that's not bad for a few square blocks. unfortunately, the entire vibe is practically offset by a block of empty storefronts (west side, between mcgee and washington) and a large number of ed hardy "get your drink on" bars and "get your hook up on" clubs. the ballpark is nice, family entertainment, but there's nothing "creative" about it. the same with CCP, aside from summer music.

IMO, the city and building owners on south elm could contribute to a creative culture by subsidizing the rent of those empty storefronts for people with creative ideas, plans, etc. but who can't afford the (still) ridiculous prices downtown. turn that strip of buildings into a creative competition -- the best six ideas get free rent for a year and 50% off market value for the next three. something like that. it would be a win for the surrounding businesses, the city would get more tax revenue and the landlords would finally get paid for their properties.

and maybe, just maybe, we make a dent in the axe brand vibe of late night downtown.

Brandon Burgess

I've always enjoyed eating, drinking and being merry in a backyard or living room.

Different strokes...

Ed Cone

Hugh, who are the partners in the LLC? Not the non-profit foundations?

Sean, to that map I'd add the various writers, artists, and musicians sprinkled around downtown, including quite a few in my office building. Also, people in creative businesses, e.g. advertising and design, architects, Kindermusik, etc.

The stadium and the parks are downtown amenities, not creative endeavors per se (although Festival Park does host a lot of performances), part of the infrastructure of a healthy downtown district.

Roch101

There are two parcels that make up the park, owned by the real estate holding companies of the Community Foundation and the Bryan Foundation.

Andrew Brod

Everyone's got his or her own definition of creativity, but given that Richard Florida coined the term ("creative class") that started the previous and related thread, it's worth noting that his definition goes beyond even Ed's extension, to include entrepreneurs, top managers, and others who use their wits to create value (defined in various ways) from nothing. The idea, of course, is that all manner of productive creation is enhanced by an environment of creativity. It can't exist without the narrower sense of creative activity, but neither is it limited to that.

Bill Yaner

Though Triad Stage was mentioned here, I want to point out specifically how the Eastern Music Festival fringe series has brought some pretty outstanding acts to that stage - and at a very affordable price. All of the ones I've been to, however, were poorly attended, so I'm hoping that the word will get out there better this year. My understanding is that some of the organizers of the EMF feel this series has been a distraction from their main purpose, though to me its been a wonderful complement.

Roch101

"All of the ones I've been to, however, were poorly attended, so I'm hoping that the word will get out there better this year" -- BY

If you know someone at EMF, I have been trying in vain to get them to add their events to the event calendar at Greensboro 101, speaking of getting the work out.

Roch101

Uh, "word" out.

hugh

"Hugh, who are the partners in the LLC? Not the non-profit foundations?"

You tell me?

Ed Cone

Hugh, the land seems to be owned by the two foundations.

So for your scenario to come true -- the park land being developed for profit -- two major local non-profits would have to tear down a beloved centerpiece of the community, and...then what? Become for-profit entities? How does something like that get past the community-based CFGG board?

Bill Yaner

I only know the EMF folks second hand, Rach, but will try my best.

Billy Jones

Andrew wrote: "...use their wits to create value (defined in various ways) from nothing."

Does the definition of nothing include city services, city owned properties, taxpayer dollars and the manipulation of local politicians? If not then we can hardly consider Greensboro's movers and shakers to be an sort of "creative class" by an stretch of Florida's definition.

Ed and Hugh, It's my understanding that unless the LLC that holds the deed to any property is itself, a nonprofit, that it won't matter that the LLC is owned by nonprofits-- the LLC is free to buy and sell as it sees fit. Hence the term, limited liability corporation. So that begs the question: is Downtown Renaissance, LLC a for profit or nonprofit corporation?

Purely speculation but I suspect a lot of people are going to be really upset when they learn the answer.

Billy Jones

I was curious so ! searched for Downtown Renaissance, LLC and found... Well, you know how links work. You're going to want to see the results.

Billy Jones

Okay, it would appear the name is really DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO RENAISSANCE, LLC and it appears to be a for profit LLC.

Hugh Wins!

Roch101

Thanks, Bill Y.

Billy Jones

But wait, it gets better, not only is DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO RENAISSANCE, LLC a for profit company, it is also Verified Delinquent, and "is scheduled to be administratively dissolved or revoked for failure to file the required annual reports."

Also of interest and supporting Hugh's thinking that DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO RENAISSANCE, LLC might someday sell City Center Park for a handsome profit, non profit corporations do not pay property taxes and yet, as part of the negotiations in the building of City Center Park was City Council approval of a tax except status for the property the park was built on. Why involve City Council if non profits are already exempt from property taxes?

So do we turn over the next shell?

Ed Cone

Billy, I'm not seeing the delinquency listing at your last link - the status listed there is "Current-Active" and the annual report status is "Current."

I do see here an annual report for the organization dated March 2011, along with reports for previous years, listing the "Nature of Business" as "Acquire, Own, and Develop Properties for Charitable Purposes."

Billy Jones

Ed, where it says Annual Report Status, click on the word, "Current."

Billy Jones

To "Acquire, Own, and Develop Properties for Charitable Purposes" is not the same thing as operating a non profit. DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO RENAISSANCE, LLC is a for profit company that provides "services" to non profit corporations.

As further proof: Here's a list of corporations registered by David L. Kyger. Under 'Type' you will note their status as non profit or LLC.

Ed Cone

You're misreading the material at the link, Billy. It's a menu of terms and definitions. The relevant line is not the last entry on the menu ("Verified Delinquent"), but the one that applies to the status listed for the organization in question -- in this case, "Current," which means "The entity has not been identified as being delinquent on filing annual reports." And, indeed, as linked above, the report for 2011, like those for previous years, is on file.

And, yes, the LLC is an LLC. But it's an LLC chartered to act for charitable purposes, on behalf of two non-profits.

And, again, even supposing that the Bryan Foundation would ever want to raze the park it championed -- thus destroying its legacy -- and could somehow do a for-profit deal, it's very hard to imagine the Community Foundation board going along with such a scheme.

Billy Jones

"it's very hard to imagine the Community Foundation board going along with such a scheme."

I seriously doubt the Community Foundation board has much say in the matter. Let the right developer come along looking for a site to build Greensboro's tallest skyscraper and the park is history.

Otherwise, why form an LLC?

Jim Langer

Does the creative class include banksters and accountants?

Without Medici, no Michelangelo. 15th-16th c. Florence was a third the size of Greensboro, but we are still waiting for our Renaissance. Why?

Art is not simply entertainment. Until someone makes that clear by making some groundbreaking and potentially galvanizing art around here, we will just continue amusing ourselves while the power elite continue gorging.

Florida's theory only serves the power elites. He has a vested interest in branding and coopting the eccentric and amusing. It lets the corporate structure insulate itself from criticism. Forget "David", I want "The Last Judgement"! "Raft of the Medusa"!

I'd settle for Daumier. At least his amusements had real bite.

(I realize this is equally a damning indictment of my own laziness and perhaps craven cowardice as an artist. I have made several choices to rectify that in recent months. Stay tuned.)


Billy Jones

Jim, I look forward to your corrections and commend you on pointing out the truth.

Greensboro, like so many, is and has long been, the sort of city the truly great are forced to leave behind if they are to achieve their true potential. Are there creative people in Greensboro? Of course they're here, but they will never be accepted by the status quo who only understand the art of grifting and whose monuments to themselves-- City Center Park being one example-- serve only as tax dodges to protect their property and development interests.

To the truly gifted in Greensboro who are still young: get out while you still can, find your audience and create the true treasures Greensboro will never understand or appreciate. You'll never regret leaving a decaying city behind, for decay can only be renewed when it rots into the earth and becomes the nutrients for new life. Never look back lest you wish to become yet another old hack like me.

Roch101

One reason I can imagine for forming LLCs to own the park property would be to shield the foundations from financial liability, but I'm not a lawyer and that is speculation. I would like to know the reasons for that kind of ownership structure.

eric

Roch -- That's a very likely reason. The advantage of an LLC is that the members/owners of an LLC (Limited Liability Company) have limited liability for the company's debts, akin to corporate shareholders. But the entity is not subject to corporate taxation. Essentially a "best of both worlds" hybrid of a partnership and a corporation, and a sensible option for something like this.

Also, as far as I'm aware, there is no distinction in NC between a "for profit" and "non-profit" LLC, as there is for corporations. So there'd be no significance to this LCC not being designated as a "non profit".

Roch101

Thanks, Eric. I was also wondering about the profit/non-profit LLC thing. Thanks for clearing that up.

Preston Earle

I'm wondering if some of the antipathy (if that's the right word) towards "downtown art/creative" issues doesn't arise from a concern many folks have about government sponsorship of arts endeavors. I grant Downtown and Government aren't equivalent, but they are congruent in many folks minds. Perhaps it would be beneficial for folks promoting "downtown" issues to actively separate their efforts from governmental questions. I'm not sure just how this might be done, but I think a good start would be an active campaign to make sure the two aren't confused.

On the other hand, if this is an effort to get more government support for arts/creative issues, we should recognize the down side of that approach as well.

Billy Jones

Preston,
Personally I'd like to see more local government support of the arts but considering the current economic state we're in I just don't see it happening.

You wondered, "I'm wondering if some of the antipathy (if that's the right word) towards "downtown art/creative" issues doesn't arise from a concern many folks have about government sponsorship of arts endeavors."

It might be for some but not for me-- I've watched Greensboro "leaders" since I was a child and for me it's all too apparent that even in the best of times, Greensboro's support of the arts has historically been little more than lip service and an excuse for some developer to build something at the expense of Greensboro's working class.

You mused, "I grant Downtown and Government aren't equivalent, but they are congruent in many folks minds."

Here you hit the nail on the head. Downtown developers, DGI, Action Greensboro and the rest of the Melvinites have a 50 year history of running roughshod over the rest of Greensboro to revive/restore their precious downtown-- we know who runs local government and their offices are downtown.

I still remember the 1st wave of downtown restoration that brought about countless one-way streets impossible for most to navigate, parking lots being eliminated for the widening of East Market, parking decks that set empty for 20 years, $Millions spent on a road that goes nowhere (Murrow Blvd.) grocery stores bulldozed..... And what do they do 30 years later? Put it back like it was in the first place.

The problem with downtown is that it has long been a parasite. 99 blocks is a very small downtown. High Point and Burlington have larger downtowns. Most small towns have larger downtowns. Downtown Greensboro is like a landlocked country fighting to get a port to the sea-- no matter how bad they want it or how much they negotiate with the rest of the city, Greensboro's downtown remains landlocked with the only way to sea being to take from the rest of us.

And in the years when downtown isn't trying to take from the rest of the city, downtown feeds on itself until it is so lean, so starved the "movers and shakers" start crying, "Renovation, recovery, restoration-- we have to save Downtown!"

And for what?

You opined, "Perhaps it would be beneficial for folks promoting "downtown" issues to actively separate their efforts from governmental questions. I'm not sure just how this might be done, but I think a good start would be an active campaign to make sure the two aren't confused."

Yes, those people wishing to push downtown issues would do very well to stay as far away from the Melvin Municipal Building as is humanly possible but alas, a parasite has no choice but to suck blood.

Some things simply can't stand. Some things should be revived-- other things should be allowed to die and rot so that something better can grow in its stead. Downtown Greensboro is one of those things that should be allowed to die or given the chance to stand on its own.

Most of Greensboro's population neither works, lives nor does business downtown so why should we support it?

Jim Langer

Duchamp never took public funds, to my memory. Including "Fountain", dimly shown behind the uTube speaker at one point, is simply uninformed.

Insects of some kind, I am sure, crawled on Jesus as he both lived and breathed, and as he may have hung dying. Many crucifixes such as GrĂ¼newald's Isenheim Altarpiece, show much worse than the Portrait Gallery film. So does "Passion of the Christ". Oh, right, they didn't get public funding (unless that great paragon, Mel Gibson, got tax incentives for filming it from whatever state's coffers). Neither did the late David Wojnarowicz for his "Fire in the Belly". I suppose we should just let such public galleries show only the bland portraits of smarmy and lying politicians. Not as smarmy and lying, either. Alice Neel's self-portrait is there, too. http://www.artsjournal.com/realcleararts/aliceneelselfportrait.jpg
Ban that, while we're at it, too.

Suggesting artists improve their craft, in expectation that private sponsors will support it, is missing the fact that people generally don't fund the art that needs to say the strongest things. We like pablum.

So, while there are good reasons for artists not to seek public tax dollars, there are even stronger ones for them to avoid corporate dollars.

If money is required to make the art or publicize it, install it, etc., we need patrons with greater vision than merely "civic improvement".

I must admit, since I wrote my earlier diatribe as a sleep-deprived pseudo-prophet, it is unsettling to realize I've upped the ante on myself. I have mostly done staid bland portraits, peppered with some nudes and the occasional literary allusion and satirical illustration. Now I had better follow through on what I half-sanely started. Any of you who attend SECCA in the next month will get a taste of the kind of thing, I hope, we can see transferred over here.

michele

Billy, Murrow Boulevard, yeah, what is that about? I grew up here, too, and I've never understood where that road was supposed to go. There's nothing on the other side of that ramp but neighborhoods.

Billy Jones

Michele,
The plan was for Murrow Blvd to connect downtown to I40/85 but after having just destroyed East Market Street and the many black and white small businesses that were located along East Market, the developers learned they had lost the support of East Side voters and knew they'd be run out of town on rails if they also lost the voters of the South Side whose houses lay in the way.

Their solution was to allow MLK (then Asheboro St) to die a slow and painful death so they could then start buying up decaying properties just south of downtown.

Like I said, a parasite has to suck blood.

There was also a bridge to nowhere that was actually built but never used-- another folly that threatened neighborhoods-- whose exact location I cannot remember, built in the same era.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Billy, I've really enjoyed your comments here. My Pops grew up on the wrong side of downtown Greensboro's tracks (where he played as a kid) and your commentary has brought back the memory of some interesting conversations we had about Greensboro.

And cheer up. Maybe your "creative class" (in Asheboro, they're called "right people") could stage a "Dancing with the Stars" and give the money to some cultural powermonger or institution-on-probation.

Kim

Wasn't Murrow to be the route of US 220, and to continue north on Battleground?

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