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Jun 07, 2012


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I'm wondering how much communication there was between Matt Brown/city of Greensboro and the task force. I'm sure the task force has discussed architecture. Is this design based on public input from the task force or did the city do its own thing without collaborating with the task force?

Peggy Hickle

It looks to me like Matt Brown took the design he was already working on for the Coliseum site and plopped it into the new downtown concept. That building would fit perfectly with the Aquatic Center.

I know there were many months of discussion about design when the Bin 33 building was being first considered and how that design would meld into the existing architecture downtown. I would hope that same consideration would be in play with a building of this enormity.

My bet, Ed, is that you are right about the purpose of this -- just show people something to keep the conversation going. People need visuals.

Billy Jones

Ron, do you work for, are you invested in or are you compensated in any way by Issacs, Exempt Inc. or the Greensboro Triumph Center project or any of its principals?

Billy Jones

Here's an idea: Why not just bulldoze all of downtown and built it anew!


Mainly to generate excitement, momentum and attract more donors. I also think they had to produce some kind of rendering before the final city council vote. How would that look for council to vote for this $20 million bond without them or the public seeing renderings?

I still love the design and would be happy with it the way it is (with exception to that parking lot in the back), but if this rendering is not based on public input given to the task force, we need to find out what the public has been telling the task force in meetings about the architecture.

Triad Conservative

This discussion is proceeding as if the decision has already been made to move forward with the project. I was not aware we had yet reached that stage.

I think it is a profound error to have Matt Brown and Coliseum management run this facility-- or even contribute to the process.


Well Joe is right in the fact that we have not voted on the project yet, it might not even make it to the ballot. I would love for private money to build the arts center. I have always said that the city needs to look into an authority for the coliseum, the city needs less control over cetain things.

Ed Cone

How can we make a good decision without knowing what we're deciding on?

The process had to include some detailed assessment of feasibility. What we've now seen looks promising.


I think Nancy Vaughan hit the nail on the head and is using common sense. The best place for the arts center is downtown. There are many places to eat and all are in walking distance. There is no place near the coliseum to eat other then steamys. There is a reason Broadway in NYC is boaming, lots to do in a small area.

I think Nancy is keeping a more open and common sense to things. I would like to see the arts center in the east but will it be a hit and will fine dining come. The answer is who knows and millions are at risk and downtown is where everything is happening, baseball, hotels, restaurants, nightlife,clubs.

Nancy is thinking logical.


As far as the architecture goes, Here are examples of what I don't want to see.




Here are examples of what I do want to see.




Andrew Brod

I gotta say, until you learn to link, I'm not going to go look at any of those.

Andrew Brod

Hmmm, my link doesn't point to the comment. In fact, it doesn't even point to the page with the comment.

So maybe I don't know how to link either.


Let me help you out, Doc.


LOL copy and paste



LOL copy and paste

Agreed. I don't know what his problem is...


I don't know about other browsers, but in Firefox highlight and right click acts like a hot link.


I mostly agree with Ron's choices of architectural do's and don'ts.

The lead story on News 2 at 6 last night made this all sound like a done deal. It was presented as "This is the design, location, price tag, and method of payment. Ain't it great?". I wondered if Mikens even read the N&R story.

Andrew Brod

Linking I've got down. Linking to a particular comment in Ed's blog seems to be broken.

Andrew Brod

Yes, obviously one can copy and paste. Everyone knows how to do that, I presume.

What I'm saying is that I'm not going to do it. If you can't take the time to construct actual links, then I'm not particularly interested in following them. That's all.


It is interesting that the task force doesn't seem to be in any hurry to upload those renderings to their website.


I'm going to say this just because it's fun - I agree with Joe.

It is great to evaluate different approaches to designing the building and location, but we need to also evaluate what operating structure is best for the facility. If there is an opportunity for a public vote, I would vote no for that reason alone.

Two suggestions:

1. Put an RFP out to design the structure with some key goals and objectives - after the site is selected. Ensure they include a portfolio of other work. Let the public review the portfolios and provide input. Then do NOT select lowest bidder, but highest. This may only likely be able to be done if the owner of the facility is private or a public-private entity (a la Center City Park.)

2. Put an RFP out to operate the facility - again with guidelines. The curb market approach could be a model/approach to follow. I'd like to see what other operators could propose for the facility and at what cost before we just give it over to Matt Brown and the Coliseum staff.

My .02.

Bill Cunninham

Dr. Joe,

You don't seem to understand. This is the dawn of a new era in Greensboro politics. What Robbie wants he thinks he will get. Well maybe or maybe not but any amount of a bond for this pet project is DOA with the voters.


Crank up that bulldozer and let'er roll.


Robbie is making a tactical error regarding the bonds by alluding to the Natural Science Center and Aquatic Center. The reasons for approval of those bonds are unique and do not relate to this hurried up proposal. If they take the time to persuade the voters with a well-designed facility, they might approve the bonds. But at present, that necessary process has yet to occur. They should scrap the effort to place a bond referendum on the November ballot which is bound to fail and do the hard work required for approval. Robbie's behavior so far has been amateurish.


Too fast on the send. I won't vote for it if the PAC will be managed by Matt Brown. Second clarification under item 1 - highest quality submission, not highest bid.


I will agree that this is all going fast. I like to see a performing arts center but it will not be a bad idea to wait until next year. I think adding the one dollar to ticket sales might be a good move and the money earned can be put towards the center.


The fact that its a presidential election year has a lot to do with why this is being rushed on the ballot in November. Turn out is higher and east Greensboro will be voting in larger numbers for obvious reasons. If Robbie can get Simpkins PAC to endorse this, east Greensboro will follow. East Greensboro typically vote in large blocks so something like this won't pass unless there is high voter turn out in east Greensboro. Simpkins PAC did support the War Memorial Auditorium bonds in 2006. Another difference is that the Auditorium bond was $50 million. This time voters are being ask for $20 million.

David Hoggard

A small porch party at my house last night provided anecdotal indicators of where this thing might be headed. And keep in mind that, due to our proximity to all proposed sites, Aycockians and Fisher Parkers would benefit greatly from such an next-door amenity and generally favor such bonds at the polls:

Slow it down, get the design right and establish wider community buy-in. This is too important and too rushed to risk a November decision.

Billy Jones

Ron, Ron, Ron, if East Greensboro wanted a PAC I would have had an outpouring of support for this idea. Fact is, East Greensboro, like most of Greensboro, could give a rat's ass about a downtown PAC. And should the Simpkins Pac start rallying the troops they risk loosing their support in East Greensboro.

East Greensboro wants jobs and not the kinds of jobs that only pay minimum wage for part time hours. And other than the few union riggers, electricians and stage hands who will mostly come from Raleigh as needed, there will be few good paying jobs associated with a downtown PAC.

But hey, keep shaking your pom-poms, big boy.


David it may be a good idea to slow it down. I've been hearing a lot of good ideas the past few days and we do want this to be the best that it can be. There could be improvements on design and how this thing will be laid out. I get why Matt Brown wants the premium on site parking. It would provide additional revenue which would help with the operating expense. That is a good idea because it would be even less money coming from the taxpayers. But one task force member offered a solution. Instead of having that big parking lot in the back, why not put the parking underground with shops and restaurants above ground? Wouldn't it make sense to have a public plaza on site with restaurants, shops and other potential entertainment opportunities. I'm beginning to jump on the bandwagon in regards to slowing this down. It may turn out we can get this built without a bond.

Billy Jones

Now Ron is pitching the Triumph Center scam again... Slowing it down just gives Issacs more time to scrape up all that funding he "already has." Perhaps Mr Issacs would like to see this? A reply from Booking Entertainment back in April would have gone a long ways towards making Issacs' and Ron's efforts look genuine.


Here is how this can get built without a bond.

1)user fees. $20 million alone in user fees would help pay a big chunk of this.

2)private funding. $13 to $20 million in donations would help and if we slow down to get this right we could see even more donations.

3)chose a different site. The North Elm Street site is the most expensive of all the sites. The land alone would exceed $10 million. There some sites being looked at that's one fifth or one tenth of that. That could bring the cost down closer to $40 million. In that case private donations and user fees alone could pay for it without a bond.

4)partner with a developer. If there has to be on site parking, put it underground and by partnering with a developer the PAC complex could include a public plaza above the parking with restaurants and shops. It would set Greensboro apart from other PACs. Most don't have on site restaurants and shops. The hidden underground premium parking would provide additional revenue that could help pay for the PAC and eventually help with operating expense.

I'm a believer in slowing this down now because the current proposal could be even better.


BTW The city already owns three of the sites being looked at. One is at South Elm and Lee but it appears that's been crossed out. The second one is the bus lot surrounded by Friendly Ave, Church St and Market St. The third one is property near the Carolina Theatre but its the smallest of all the sites and there is limited opportunity for new development nearby.

The News & Record lot is valued a little over $2 million according to the county gis website. Thats a big savings considering the North Elm/Summit Ave site would exceed $10 million once you purchase all the parcels.


Check out this idea for the PAC



Billy Jones

The problem for Ron and Issacs is that what they're proposing-- a privately owned downtown mall that includes a PAC and a possible hotel-- while good for the city tax department, will be seen as overwhelming competition by existing downtown restaurants, hotels, shops and even developers. And resistance to competition is long honored and wide spread in Downtown Greensboro. It's tradition and breaking said tradition risks splitting apart Downtown supporters who are already feeling disenfranchised and fed up with how Downtown is being run. If Ron and Issacs get their way the downtown political establishment will swing from the ropes of downtown business owners.

Remember: East Greensboro was bulldozed to prevent competition to Downtown and Greensboro suburban developers battled Downtown for decades to get the city to allow to let them build competitive projects. Even things as simple and unthreatening as a hot dog cart were fought tooth and nail by Greensboro's downtown restaurant owners leading to the bankruptcy and eventual move to New York of the young woman who first attempted to put her 1 little hotdog cart downtown.

And to add insult to injury: The Greensboro Inn is now being converted to office spaces and retail shops. The cost of City's effort to take a motel long seen as a home to criminal enterprise has just changed as office and retail raises the value of the property big time. Leasing information can be found on banners hanging from the building today. Looks like the price tag just went up.

A couple of notes: I ran into several prominent local elected officials and former elected officials this week and came away thinking that they think this PAC is a very bad idea. And a little bird told me to be sure to read next week's Rhino Times as the behemoth is about to gore a few of downtown's biggest players.


I really do support this center but I am getting a feeling that there is some monkey business going on. I hope Greensboro can pull this off but the key to anything is location. There has to be a goo location for this center and the right price tag.

Things might be getting out of control.


"I think it is a profound error to have Matt Brown and Coliseum management run this facility-- or even contribute to the process."

Ah, but those of us who think that way obviously have a bad attitude.

Using any public funding to build this thing would also be a profound error, but that won't stop the cheerleaders from insisting it be that way.

Ed Cone

I think the hurry-up campaign may serve to launch a somewhat longer and quite thorough process, and that starting fast could end up serving us well. There's been a ton of good work done, and much promise revealed. I'm more optimistic now than I was a few months ago.

Billy Jones

It appears some folks in the performing arts business also have some concerns with Matt and Robbie's rush to build. And he makers several of the same points I've made.

And let's not forget that now that the Greensboro Inn is now a mall the price of every property on that block just went up.


Actually the owners of Greensboro Inn want to convert their property to restaurants and boutique shops. Maybe they partner with the PAC folks and really build something dynamic. I cringe at their property becoming a parking lot. I'd rather for it to be a "mall" than a parking lot. This should be an urban development not a suburban development. People in Greensboro still have a hard time trying to figure out how to build downtown. The YMCA and Carolina Bank headquarters are terrible examples of urban development. Hopefully that Hardees on West Market will close too.


That Hardees and the Y stay pretty busy- UNCG and Greensboro College are nearby. But I guess there is "good money" and "bad money"- it all depends on who gets it. In neither case does the money flow to the "right" people so I understand what Ron is getting at and why.

Robbie isn't a visionary and neither are his cronies. In fact, they are backward looking not realizing that the crony capitalist fascism subset system of governing is becoming extinct because people on the Left and the Right are tired of it.

I think it was Hoggard who wrote the other day about people seeing the potholes and core infrastructure in decay and wondering how in the hell spending tax money on this project can be justified at this time.

Like I have said before, I am not necessarily opposed to a PAC but I don't trust the motivations of those behind it and I think it is an elitist, unnecessary project during these trying financial times. One would think that advocates for the common man would be equally concerned. Instead, we have yet another union between the elites and the limousine liberals figuring out ways to spend tax dollars on toys for their own enjoyment.

Issues like this are very good at highlighting where people really stand on fiscal responsibility, good government, and the common good.


speaking of pot holes. When are they going to repave Lee Street? The bumps in the road are terrible.

Billy Jones

Ron wrote, "Actually the owners of Greensboro Inn want to convert their property to restaurants and boutique shops."

That's what I said-- have you been drinking again? Smoking? Snorting?

Ron continued, "Maybe they partner with the PAC folks and really build something dynamic. I cringe at their property becoming a parking lot. I'd rather for it to be a "mall" than a parking lot."

Are you really so dense that you don't understand that any type of downtown mall will split Downtown politics right down the middle, bring about the end of DGI, Action Greensboro and several other downtown nonprofits, and run many existing downtown restaurants and shops out of business? Build a downtown mall and downtown business owners will leave in droves and they won't stop until they get out of Greensboro. Far out to Winston, Raleigh, Charlotte and all those other cities you so envy. Malls and big box retailers suck the life out of everything around them. It was shopping centers and malls that killed downtown Greensboro the first 2 times. Put a mall in the middle of downtown and the mall will soon be all there is downtown. Where did you get your degree from-- Walmart? The mall? From some guy selling degrees on the corner?

Ron asked, "speaking of pot holes. When are they going to repave Lee Street? The bumps in the road are terrible."

If they spend the money on a PAC the answer is never.


Hopefully that Hardees on West Market will close too.

I don't know who this guy is, but he's beginning to sound more and more like the Penguin.

David Hoggard

Wasn't me on the pothole remark, Spag, but certainly agree with it.

We need (word is intended) a first class performance venue, and I don't believe it is just an "elitist" amenity or desire. A facility like what is being proposed is what sets 'good' cities apart from 'great' cities and I will support it if the plans are properly incubated, hatched, financed and promoted.

Get Blust to change tack on championing the ticket tax in Raleigh, take Matt B. out of the role as the project's lightning rod, reduce the City's bond participation to under $15M, offer it NEXT November - then it will fly.

(Didn't understand Blust's refusal to forward the tix tax. That authority would have caused those who actually use the facility to pay for it - which is totally in line with every thing he stands for. Very confusing)


Like I said David, I'm not fundamentally opposed to a PAC but it is a luxury not a necessity. The push right now in these tough times seems to be in the immediate interests of a few at the expense of the many. This is something that tax dollars should not even be considered for until we are in good financial shape and write now we aren't even close. So why now? Because I'm willing to bet that there are profits to be made by the usual suspects and because some unaffected people need more recreation.

No thanks. Build it with private money or don't even consider it until the economy gets better and we fix the basic infrastructure first.


Did I actually type "write now" ? That wasn't "right". The other meaning of "right" of course. From someone on the Right.

P.S. the insistence on the PAC being in a very specific location (or not at all) is a clue that there is a financial interest behind this push.

Follow the money.

Ed Cone

I find the timing and the focus on a downtown location to be less than suspicious.

The City has long maintained a performing arts facility. It's long overdue for replacement.

Voters have made it clear that the site of our current superannuated facility is not their preference.

Downtowns across the country (including our own) are seeing a revival.

This facility fits the times and the needs of our city, and the location makes great sense.

On a more micro level, I've always questioned the rush-rush approach, but I'm impressed by the work to date; front-loading the campaign has pushed this thing a lot further than it might have gotten otherwise, and so even if it misses the most ambitious launch dates there is much about which to be optimistic.

David Hoggard

Agree with all of that, Ed.

The thing is too important to leave to chance. And I believe the odds for passage this November are long. Or at least, that is the 'man on the street' vibe I'm getting.

Blust & Co. killed it this go 'round for reasons not clear to me. But that which hasn't killed it completely will only make it stronger moving forward.

I can appreciate Robbie trying to include this in his legacy, and applaud his efforts and those of all involved. But if the goal is to get the thing built and done right (the title of this post), egos, pride and expediency are going to have to take secondary positions to practicality, patience and prudence.

Billy Jones

Spag wrote: "P.S. the insistence on the PAC being in a very specific location (or not at all) is a clue that there is a financial interest behind this push.

Follow the money."

Spag to the rescue!

Seriously, this is as obvious as the failure of city government to live up to promises like fixing War Memorial Stadium.

David wrote: "But if the goal is to get the thing built and done right (the title of this post), egos, pride and expediency are going to have to take secondary positions to practicality, patience and prudence."

And lest we forget that no study has been done to determine the best location.


"That authority would have caused those who actually use the facility to pay for it...."

And that conclusion is based on what analysis of non-existent evidence?

".....which is totally in line with every thing he stands for. Very confusing."

I don't think Blust stands for the use of public money on reckless and poorly planned ideas.

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