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« Too much room | Main | Left turns »

Feb 26, 2013


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This house is essentially worthless in its current state. The lot is worthless as well because of a big house on cribbing.

If the Zenkes are so preservation minded deed it over to someone with money who can put a foundation under it and bring it some use.

Why are we expected to pay for Ginia's folly?

Ginia Zenke

It was government induced folly. We moved because to stay where we were would have invited eminent domain from the construction of downtown's latest tourist draw, the new Guilford County Jail.
-We moved and renovated our home at completely at our cost (so we wouldn't have to listen to anybody gripe about using public funds on our home)
-The Queen Anne was moved to Cedar Street at public expense, and successfully renovated with Preservation Greensboro Development Funds and sold turnkey to the lot owner, Mahlon Honeycutt.
-In the early days after Greensboro College backed out but before the County broke ground on the jail, the City said it had enough not just to move it, but to put it on a foundation for us. That made the project plausible for us, so we took it on. A few weeks later, some of that left over bond money timed out and we were left holding the bag for the foundation as well the renovation.
We had two reasonable expectations when we went into the swap agreement with the County in July of 2007 for the parcels involved:
-That we could get conventional loans for all or part of the project,
-That we would be working at our business right through the whole project- we worked through Dad's cancer and death without dropping a stitch, why should this be differant?
Because of the other government-induced folly, the Recession; the banks rarely loaned money and business was drastically curtailed, and we've been trying to do hold on to these viable structures in the most absurd economic circumstances and twisted turns of events seen in 80 years.
In Jeri Rowe's column on Sunday he quoted a City Council member who said we should "pony up" for renovating the building. We've been "ponying up" for six years straight on this project. All it would take is a tenant.....

Ginia Zenke

Normally, I would agree with you, but these are not normal times and the circumstances we've operated under promote failure at every turn.

Furthermore, after viewing recent articles I was just floored to read that DGI is awarded $900,000 a year for pom-pom service to downtown, whereas for the duration of the Recession it could have been put in a pool to directly help property owners dealing with circumstances beyond their control. All this wrangling over the Cascade Saloon might possibly have been avoided if the City had just given the money to property developers, enough to finish the project and get it to income-earning status, with the stipulation that they would accept a lien on the property until the debt is paid off. Fewer strings, get it done.

(We met with Ed Wolverton some time in 2010 to see if he could help market this for us. He pointed to his website and told us to list it there, which we did within about a month. To the best of my knowledge, our listing finally rotated onto their email newsheet -within the past month.) Also during that conversation, he reiterated what we found out at Starbucks: "Downtown Greensboro is not Starbucks Worthy," but little is happening to change that.

Part of the problem with many of the programs offered by the City, County or DGI are that they all have catches and they get you part of the way but not all of the way.

$25,000 for building improvement, but we have to be retail, not office

County renovation program but the property has to increase its tax base by at least $10,000 (translated, only developers need apply)

Do you think that if I applied for the small business loan available from the County, that the Commissioners would approve it, when in reality they are waiting for the day we throw in the towel so they can buy us out? Preferably for next to nothing?

My eyelashes have never been combed in the right direction for any of these programs. But $900,000 a year would go a LONG way to fixing up problem properties in the downtown. Wonder what other cheerleading programs we could re-direct funds from? Just asking.

As for my folly, perhaps that is true. But the first domino was toppled by the County, and deciding to swap and move just Mother's house was decided in 2006 & 7, back when a 4 story office building was considered the highest & best use for our property and the developers and banks were all for this project. They are still currently looking for anatomy held by others...

Ctrl Alt Dlt

Comment redacted.

Editors note:

Creating a second identity to make comments in support of an argument you made under your primary identity is known in the online world as sock-puppeting, and it's widely and justifiably scorned.

If you have something to say, say it, but don't try to make it look like people are flocking to your cause by inventing a peanut gallery that just happens to support your cause.

Ginia Zenke

You may be right, I may not be a true preservationist. At their annual dinner meeting a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting next to a really true preservationist, a board member who told me, "Well, you can't save them all." Always true, but it makes a marshmallow of a mission statement.

By the way, thanks for the compliment. We are aware that most people think we could fund all the houses moves we wanted to, but we just had the one move in us when we started...

Nor did we "expect" anyone to pay for our "folly". It was the city who came to us initially, hoping to relocate them, and we were happy to give the Queen Ann away and see it renovated. We fully expected to do the same with the duplex. The duplex was a fluke, I think, brought on by the frustration of Greensboro College collapse on the initial proposal. But we knew from the beginning that any money given to us would be criticized by you & company. When the letter came from the County saying it wanted its land back, we had to step back and wonder if it was wise to invest in downtown any further standing alone. It would be one thing if we had developers and bankers and attorneys as enthused now as they were in 2006, but that's not the world we landed in. Not even close.


Blue blood on blue blood violence. Compelling.

Ginia Zenke

Maternal Grandfather: Machinist's Mate, United States Navy, served WWI
Maternal Grandmother: Dietician in public school system
Paternal Grandfather: Managed printing press room for Hermann Ridder's New Yorker Staadts und Zeitung, the largest German language paper in New York. Helped start and was treasurer of one of New York's first unions, for (Linotype) typesetters, disillusioned after speedier typesetters couldn't get merit pay in a seniority pay system.

We didn't feel too blue blood when we were hanging off the side of Mother's house up to our elbows in paint and caulk.

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