Good news for GSO: Prospect Brands is moving its HQ to South Elm St. It's good news as well for online flamethrower/real-world nice guy Eric Robert, who lovingly restored the old North State Milling Co. building (photo by Lisa Scheer, 2007).
The north end of downtown gets a lot of love, and with big wins like the baseball stadium, Center Pointe (sic), Center City Park, Elon Law, and the planned TPAC, it's enjoyed a run of success that once seemed impossible.
Positive things have happened on the other side of the tracks, too, including the Southside developments, Elsewhere, and CTG. But the southern gateway to downtown has been uninviting and activity there has stalled. Now, with Robert's success and serious plans for a mixed-use campus on the old brownfield site at South Elm and Lee, we may hit critical mass.
South Elm and its cross streets -- an urban area built to human scale -- should be among GSO's greatest assets. Downtown itself is not just another neighborhood or collection of neighborhoods, but our public face and shared public space.
The fact that Prospect is coming without government incentives is great, but downtown's revival has many drivers, including non-profits, developers, investors, government, entrepreneurs, and, if all goes well, education and healthcare. And, of course, people who like to live, work, and play in an urban landscape. It's been four decades since Betty Cone and a small band of stalwarts started what was then a lonely fight to make our city center relevant again, and progress has been uneven and sometimes painfully slow. But good things keep happening there.