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« Show me the money | Main | The man who knew too much »

Mar 04, 2013

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Hartzman

"council has farmed out the vision thing to other groups (like Action Greensboro) and then sometimes supported them by encouraging them to spend their own money...

...Instead, they beat up on Ed Wolverton."

David Wharton
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I am confused......
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Greensboro Downtown Economic Development Strategy
Briefing Book| June 2010

http://www.actiongreensboro.org/live-well/documents/Downtown_Econ_Dev_Strategy_6-18-10.pdf

Acknowledgements

City and County officials and staff | Skip Alston | T. Dianne Bellamy‐Small | Jim Kee | Zack Matheny | Robbie Perkins | Andy Scott

Project Committee | Roy Carroll | April Harris | Michael Schiftan | Ed Wolverton

Advisory Group | Dawn Chaney | Robin Saul | Susan Schwartz

Community Stakeholders Chester Brown | Dawn Cheney | Betty Cone | Milton Kern | Marsh Prause | Dabny Sanders | Walker Sanders | Jeff Sovich | Jeremy Spidell | TomTaylor | David Wharton |
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This appears to not be at their website anymore.

http://www.actiongreensboro.org/about/resources/index.php
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If Dr. Wharton was involved in the vision thing with Ed Wolverton, how is it that Dr. Wharton can say there wasn't any vision?
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"sometimes supported them by encouraging them to spend their own money..."

If DGI gets at least 90% of their money from taxpayers...?

Brian

I'm not sure it would matter if any council member had a clearly articulated vision of downtown or not unless that person was able to swing everyone else to their vision quickly. The examples David cites are noteworthy, but there is some good fortune there in that both mayors were long-serving. Mr. Perkins could be gone in November and the vision could change. Two years after that, it could change again. It seems to me that we have two constants here - one being DGI and one being Action Greensboro that could lead the charge more effectively in this setting than relying on City Council. Whether they are using their roles to push private and public dollars to effect that version and whether it is happening quickly enough for some people is a fair discussion.

I think if you want to find fault with Council, DGI, AG, city staff, or private developers, the pickings are pretty easy. If I don't like what City Council is doing with regards to downtown, I can use the power of the ballot box. The problem with DGI, is that despite them being primarily funded by taxpayers (why is that?), they appear to only be accountable to downtown interests and have spent more time resisting change and defending Ed Wolverton than truly asking themselves what they should be doing differently. I don't want DGI to constantly defend their "accomplishments" as justification for their existence. I want to them - just once - to take ownership of some of the problems with downtown and to acknowledge that they can do better.

The only leverage the City seems to have right now to get DGI to make some changes is to threaten to withhold their public funds. I don't think it should have come to this, but recognizing a need for some new blood on the board (with better representation) and perhaps a new leader, it is their only tool at this point. I'm glad they are using it. Wanting a new ED for DGI and a shakeup on the board is not the same as wishing ill will on any board members or Ed W, but it is a recognition that the dynamics right now are not bearing fruit.

We shouldn't need a Good Repair ordinance or downtown design guidelines either, except that we really do...and that is something the City Council can do.

Brian

Are we too reliant on taxes and other public funds to remake downtown? My recent visit to Cincinnati still has me amazed at what 3CDC (Cincinnati Development Corporation) has accomplished.

Read and peruse: http://www.3cdc.org/who-we-are/background/

Note this part: "Also among 3CDC's partners are members of the Cincinnati corporate community. Cincinnati is fortunate to have a very strong and engaged base of corporate leadership, led by Procter & Gamble, Macy's and Kroger to name a few. More than 30 corporate leaders make up 3CDC's Board of Directors. The corporate leadership of 3CDC is vital to its existence and its success."

Chris Watkins

The one item that makes me wonder is when Council mentioned the possibility of bringing the duties of DGI “in-house.” Does that suggest it would be managed by the Coliseum management? I don’t mean to go all “Hartzman” on ya’ but I think I once heard that Nancy Vaughn is related to Matt Brown in some way.

Fec

Matt and Fred Barakat were awfully fond of each other, but I don't think there were any children.

David Wharton

George, the document you link is a perfect example of my point.

The people at Action Greensboro spearheaded that 2010 report together precisely because no one in city government had any kind of plan for moving forward on downtown. On their own initiative, AG got people together from government, city staff, non-profits (including DGI), industry, etc., tried to forge a consensus on what to do next, and produced their report. Now, if the council adopted the report's goals, or directed DGI to execute them, and provided benchmarks, timelines, and resources, then I'd be happy to concede that the city has a vision, and they'd have a case for putting Ed on the hot seat. But did the council take any action on that report? (FWIW, my participation in the report entailed me attending a single meeting, pointing out that Action Greensboro had failed to include the Summit Avenue Corridor Plan in its deliberations, and saying that transportation changes were the most important element for downtown development. They were nice to invite my opinion, but I don't have any real influence there.)

Anyhow, does it seem odd to anyone else that DGI has come under pressure just when the Greenway apartments are filling up, Deep Roots is opening downtown, and the State Employees Credit Union is breaking ground on a new branch at Summit/Murrow?

Brian

David - I was asked earlier today what the one thing is that I would like to see downtown and streetscape improvements (that improve the pedestrian experiance) was at the top of my list. Second on the list was to stop spending so much energy micromanaging Elm St. and spend some time on the rest of downtown, so I agree with you on that first point. And that belongs to the City.

To your question, though, does DGI deserve credit for those three items? (I'm concerned that the SECU branch will follow that pattern of Carolina Bank per design...I hope I'm wrong.)

Andrew Brod

It seemed odd to me. But the sentiment here appeared to be that we should forget the numbers and talk instead about intangibles like "vision." Thanks for addressing that issue.

Hartzman

Anyone know where DGI got the money for the Ice Rink?

Triadwatch

Can anyone not see the picture that city council is looking at any way to get money for this ridiculous gpac and what better way is to disband dgi take the tax money for gpac and hire some marketing firm for $100,000 then pocket the rest to pay off the gpac

David Wharton

Brian, I don't know what role DGI played in bringing those three to downtown.

As to the SECU site. It's pretty much 100% suburban in design, although it passed the city's downtown design review process (which tells you more about the process than the site). It's going to look a lot like this. City staff nudged them to add a pedestrian feature on the corner to give pedestrian access to the building via the parking lot in front.

Brian

That is sad to hear David...another missed opportunity. Greensboro...dedicated to mediocre design. I'm afraid the PAC, if it moves forward will suffer the same fate.

The role DGI is playing or should be playing is at the crux of this discussion. I don't mind them taking credit for things happening downtown, if they truly played a role in it. But in my experience they are quick to take credit, but not share it. And, if you take credit for the good, you must also take credit for the numerous mediocre shops and businesses that have come then disappeared from the downtown landscape.

Roch

Is this the year David Wharton runs for city council? One can hope.

Roch

"Anyhow, does it seem odd to anyone else that DGI has come under pressure just when the Greenway apartments are filling up, Deep Roots is opening downtown, and the State Employees Credit Union is breaking ground on a new branch at Summit/Murrow?" -- DrDW

Elaborate, please.

Hartzman

On the last GPAC vote, it seems as though some city council members may have wanted to vote yes to something and kill the initiative simultaneously. $10 million ungettable from Guilford County plus $10 million from an unknown amount of undisclosed fees, leaving another $25.5 million to be raised by the taskforce.

I believe they got to vote yes but meant no.

I have heard from a couple of entrepreneurs, when a business looks at downtown Winston, the red carpet gets rolled out etc... In Greensboro, my understanding is the subparness of the presentation etc... is profound.

I think solid businesses looking at downtown are turned off by all the cronyism. Why sign up to play against a stacked deck.

Hartzman

I guess it's $40.5 million total for the taskforce to raise.

Never a name came out of a donor.

How is the GPAC fiasco not a reflection of how DGI has done?

DGI was more than well represented on the GPAC taskforce.

So does anyone know where DGI got the money for the ice rink?

Hartzman

Hartzman on Greensboro City Council GPAC Pro Forma Missing Debt Service

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUGhPYG6MjI&feature=youtube_gdata
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So what looks like happened here is the city and GPAC taskforce produced a pro forma that considered $20.5 million coming in free at no cost from nowhere.

Remember Enron?

Worldcom?

The taskforce is full of DGI'ers.

The taskforce is full of Greensboro Partnership'ers.

If the hotel/motel tax is throwing off about $450,000 per year and would pay for $10 million of debt, the pro forma looks like it's missing about $900,000 of annual debt service costs, if $20.5 million wasn't included.

Quite misleading.

The $60.5 million doesn't include the costs of the pavilion.

The taskforce appears to have been thrown under a bus without knowing it got run over.

Hartzman

Heard a downtown property owner said DGI never once brought a prospective tenant to look at vacant, for-lease spaces since DGI was created.

Brian

George - I've heard that same person say the same thing and there is good reason to not bring them a prospective tenant. The place is in sad shape and they want the tenant to pay all of the upfit costs. It's the same downtown property owner that decorates his buildings with boarded up windows. There is a price for neglect, imo.

Hartzman

I would assume DGI has statistics of how many potential tenants have been shown what.

Love to see a comparison of how many were shown NAI properties as opposed to others.

If taxpayers are paying for these services, the data should be readily available.

What is the actual efficacy of DGI's marketing?

David Wharton

Roch, thanks for your kind words. I will launch my council campaign the minute Elvis and L. Ron Hubbard are available to manage it. As to your question, I have no insight into the timing of the criticism of DGI. It just seemed weird to me because there has been some positive momentum downtown lately.

George: are you implying that the mayor is dissatisfied with DGI because it has been promoting the PAC idea too tepidly?

Hartzman

I am implying that the mayor is dissatisfied with DGI because the point came when it was politically inopportune to support DGI after benefiting from years of cronyism with some at DGI.

Robbie is on DGI's board.

Robbie is clearly partly responsible for the ineffectiveness of DGI.

I believe Robbie has abused his political position to personally benefit from indirectly controlling DGI and the Greensboro Partnership.

Same two faced thing with getting rid of RUCO and winning the east side vote with Bellamy Small covering his left flank before dropping out of the race, assuring no viable more "liberal" candidate, while not disclosing material personal financial issues.

I emailed DGI today to ask them how the ice rink got funded.

Right out front of Robbie's condo.

Does anyone know how the GPAC site got switched to the YWCA site after the taskforce didn't even have it on their list?

DGI promoted the PAC up to the limits of their competence.

There are very few coincidents in politics.

If DGI used taxpayer money to acquire the ice rink after council voted to provide utilities and x for y amount of money, it should be seen as a run around the public view.

The ownership and the DGI foundation set up was in the same fiscal year as the votes to partially fund the rink, so I don't see how they can say it was buried in the budget, because the next budget wasn't approved yet.

If so, what else happened that very few know about?

Collards

I believe the ice rink was contracted out to a vendor who paid for the rink and operation and split revenues wiht the City. The P&R Department may have had some prep costs for dirt ect.

Over all a second year of a well run project.

hartzman

is so collards, why does the dgi foundation own an ice rink?

shouldn't the vendor own it if the vendor paid for it?

i believe it's been three years.

been three years i think.

what's the revenue split?

tim

I sent an email to some of the council members the other day about what I'd like to see downtown. Brian and I think alike because I told them streetscape improvements in all of downtown is most important. It seems like the main focus is always on Elm Street. The western side of downtown needs a serious makeover. Something has to be done about South Davie and Church St as well. Many empty lots still sit vacant,partially due to the poor surrounding streetscape that caters to the automobile. Many areas of downtown are not inviting to pedestrians. All major downtown roads should have wider tree lined sidewalks. Every intersection in downtown Greensboro should have brick crosswalks or at least asphalt painted like brick. All intersections should also have decorative street/traffic lights and signs. I think this a a start in making downtown look less stale. This should be the first step before we even begin to take big ambitious projects.

tim

Also more one way streets need to be converted to two way streets with attractive medians filled with trees and flora. This will help slow the traffic and make some of these areas more inviting to pedestrians. Bike lanes should be added on more downtown streets. Finally the city and DGI should encourage developers to follow urban design guidelines. The YMCA, Carolina Bank and Arbor House are poor examples of downtown development. I would love to see Hardees move into a mixed-use building so that horrible suburban Hardees can be torn down for a little mini park.

David Wharton

Tim, agree with everything you say. One thing the council can do is develop a long-term (20-year) transportation improvement plan with a long-term funding plan. Of course it could (and would) be revised over time, but you've got to have a plan.

But long-term transportation plans aren't very snazzy; they're not the high-profile projects politicians like to be associated with. It's more fun to point to a PAC and say "I built that" than to build better sidewalks and traffic calming.

Hartzman

From Mike Carter on Facebook;

"Police Chief Miller called my cell phone last week to talk about the noise ordinance, and swore up and down that it's "NOT about Roy Carroll and Center Pointe". Today I've got a lunch meeting with the owner of the only other rooftop club, two city council members working on the noise ordinance....and Roy Carroll. No other real estate developer is coming. ...and every other real estate developer has their downtown living facility at nearly 100% occupancy. Center Pointe...less than 10% occupancy. Chief and council members; Honesty is a virtue. And you wonder why my next business plan is for Asheboro?"

tim

Excellent points David. I feel like this plan should have been put in place 10 years ago and no one is talking about a streetscape plan covering all of downtown. It just boggles the mind. We need to put the correct pedestrian infrastructure in place if we expect to see more development throughout downtown Greensboro. A big reason the Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments were built is because of its location on the greenway. I still have reservations about the layout of that apartment complex though. The parking lots front Smith Street and Battleground Ave. The buildings should front those streets. In addition, Smith Street and Battleground Ave in this area of downtown and particularly around the Greenway apartment complex should be converted to two way streets or at least reduced to two lanes allowing wider sidewalks for the greenway. It would have been nice if the apartment complex could have been layout out like a doughnut with the parking lot not being visible from the street. (underground parking with a community park on top would have been even better) I was told topography was the reason this was not done but it just looks like the Greenway apartments were forced onto the site instead of the site dictating how the apartments were built. I went to school for architecture so I have an eye for what is and isn't properly built.

Collards

George, if you want to know about the ice rink, ask DGI. It's a good project for downtown and did not cost you a dime.

hartzman

factually incorrect.

Hartzman

From: Ed Wolverton
to: "hartzmancpe
date: Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:04 PM
subject: FW: DGI Contact Submission Form
mailed-by: downtowngreensboro.net

Mr. Hartzman:

This is to acknowledge your information request. I will provide a final response within 48 hours.

Thank you.

Ed Wolverton
DGI President and CEO
122 N. Elm Street, Suite 609
Greensboro, NC 27401


tim

BTW Here are a few ideas I have for a "University District"

http://www.downtownstadium.org/universitydis1.JPG

http://www.downtownstadium.org/universitydis2.JPG

Hartzman

Collards, the contractor said it would be $86,700 to get the rink, and another $65,000 to keep it.

The City of Greensboro voted to put up $23,000 for a transformer and about $20,000 utilities.

On June 30, 2011, the DGI foundation owned $78,560 worth of ice rink.

Downtown Greensboro Audit - 1/20/2012 Audit - FY Ending 2011

http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/csl/Details.aspx?EventLogId=20123477

Page 3 shows the ownership.

If 90% of DGI's funds come from taxpayers, and the foundation ended up with $78,560 worth of ice rink stuff, did some choose to go around the city and county elected official votes to hide the purchase?

If DGI used taxpayer money to get the rink after council voted to provide utilities etc..., I don't see how it could have happened in the same fiscal year without a council vote.

If the ownership and the DGI foundation set up was in the same fiscal year as the votes to partially fund the rink, they can't say it was in the budget, because the next budget didn't exist yet.

Ed Cone

A group of foundations help fund the rink. I know TSF and others were involved in getting it going.

Brian

Uh oh....looks like Mocksville is beating Greensboro to the punch.

http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/blog/morning-edition/2013/03/mocksville-looks-to-get-more-visitors.html

Brian

And from today's Business Journal...looks more and more like Mr. Wolverton days might be numbered...

“My view is that DGI does some good things, but the leadership is not enough to take us to the next level, and we need to make a change,” Perkins said.

Hartzman

I agree, Mayor Perkins should resign from DGI's board.

Brian

George...whomever is Mayor is automatically on DGI's board as is the City Manager. That's the way their board is structured. Are you saying the City should have no representation on a board that gets a majority of its funding from taxpayers? (yeah, yeah, i know conflict of interest, yadda, yadda, but moot unless he is not Mayor.)

Hartzman

Mr. Perkins should not be the Mayor.

Mr. Perkins ran for office without disclosing his personal financial and marital situation, while taking money from some who may not have provided it if they were fully informed, as they should have been.

Mr. Perkins eliminated RUCO.

I believe Mr. Perkins hid behind an LLC to personally gain from a Guilford County tax break with Gunter's Crossing.

I believe Mr. Perkins has abused his position for personal profit.

There are very few people I would describe as "bad".

I believe Robbie Perkins is a bad guy.

Hartzman

At City Council's last meeting, Robbie Perkins made or seconded a motion to pay $25,000 to TREBIC's Marlene Sanford to lobby for the City of Greensboro at the state level concerning the Lake Jordan issue.

I believe Robbie openly supported paying a lobbyist who illegally worked to get rid of our successful rental inspection ordinance with illegally deducted contributions from Robbie's company, which is a TREBIC member.

There are little kids with asthma because of what Robbie and Marlene did.

They harmed poor renters state wide, and the Greensboro News & Record refused to report it.

If Robbie runs for mayor, I run for mayor, if only to assure he does not win another term.

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