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DOWNTOWN GREENWAY BRINGS GREENSBORO NEW LIFE

by Nolan Stout

Beer. Restaurants. Business. The new Downtown Greenway has attracted all types to Greensboro since first breaking ground in 2009.

The Greenway is the product of a partnership between the city and Action Greensboro. It was approved as part of the Center City Master Plan in 2001, and in 2006 the Greenway was identified as the signature project for Greensboro to commemorate its bicentennial anniversary.

While it is not even halfway finished, the Downtown Greenway has already led to huge economic improvements.

“Over $200 million in economic development projects have identified the Downtown Greenway as the reason they chose to locate their business where they did,” said Project Manager Dabney Sanders.

One of those economic development projects is the building on 600 Battleground Ave. This will be the future location of two businesses that will work hand-in-hand – Preyer Brewing Company and a new Crafted restaurant.

The Downtown Greenway factored into the decision to use this location for both businesses.

“When we began looking at potential locations, being on the Greenway was always a goal,” said co-owner of Preyer Brewing, Nicole Preyer.

For Kristina Fuller, owner of Crafted, it was the Downtown Greenway as well as other businesses that have sprung up around the Greenway.

“The Greenway and Fisher Park apartments really helped in our decision to locate here,” Fuller said.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Sanders believes the Downtown Greenway fits in with the current state of the city’s trail system.

“Greensboro has been long known as a community with a really strong greenways and trails system,” Sanders said. “We want to build on the strength of this community.”

Upwards of $4.5 million has been given to the Greenway through private investment.

The city has also played a big part in the development of the Greenway. According to Sanders, $7 million of the $12 million allocated to Greenways in the city’s 2008 street improvement referendum was set aside solely for the development of the Downtown Greenway.

Action Greensboro hopes that the Downtown Greenway can also improve the lifestyle and overall wellness of the citizens of Greensboro.

“We want to encourage people to live more active and healthy lives,” said Sanders.

Members of the community express strong support for the Greenway and see it as a positive factor in the future of the city.

Lee Comer, owner of the Iron Hen Café, is getting close to opening a multiplex, multipurpose business at 509 South Edgeworth St., directly adjacent to the end of the completed Greenway at Morehead Park.

“I’m a huge proponent of the Greenway, and a huge fan of it,” Comer said. “I’m certainly glad it’s in my parking lot.”

Comer also believes it will get people to take alternate means of transportation to work.

“The Greenway will help us get healthier as a city,” said Comer. “It will give people the option to walk or ride a bike to work.”

SAFETY

Safety may be of concern to some, but the Greenway will be a very secure area. Sanders said that this has been studied and examined very carefully by Action Greensboro in their plan for the Greenway.

“Greenways statistically tend to be incredibly safe places,” said Sanders. “They also tend to improve and increase safety in places they go.”

In a study on the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle, it was found that the trail had “little, if any, effect on crime and vandalism experienced by adjacent property owners.” In the eight years before the study was done, it was found that only an average of two incidents of crime per year happened that could have involved a trail user.

Places that do not necessarily run directly adjacent to roadways and are a little more isolated have posted hours that police can enforce. They also have lighting installed along the Greenway.

Many parts of the Greenway will act as an expanded sidewalk and thus have natural lighting from the road and be out in the open for law enforcement to patrol.

Having a safe route for travel is something that community members should be excited about.

“Getting around downtown in a safe and enjoyable manner on foot or by bike will be very important to the culture of downtown,” said Preyer.

MOVING FORWARD

The next part of the Greenway to break ground will be the section between the finished Smith Street trail and Greene Street.

The city and Action Greensboro are running into some delays from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The next section was sent to the DOT for approval in September, but has yet to be approved due to a backlog at the department. Sanders, however, said the delay is not that big of an issue and will resolve itself in the near future.

“We’re waiting for approval and are expecting that to happen any day now,” Sanders said. “Hopefully, it will be finished by the summer of 2016 if we break ground later this year.”

The section between the Smith Street Greenway and the Tradition Cornerstone, which is one of four artistic meeting places that mark the corners of the Greenway, will also be put out for bid later this year.

This summer, Action Greensboro plans to put part of the southern section of the route out to bid. The trail between the end of Five Points all the way to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is the target of that construction plan.

The only part of the Greenway not moving forward yet is the “Magic Mile” trail between Morehead Park and the Tradition Cornerstone. All other sections have either been planned or are being designed. This section has not even entered the design phase.

Action Greensboro has narrowed down the finalists to design the Innovation Cornerstone as well. Four finalists are planned to have interviews in March and April for the position. The Cornerstone will be at the intersection of Murrow Boulevard and East Lindsay Street. The Freedom Cornerstone, however, cannot be built until the greenway is built in that area. This is due to changes that need to be made to the land at the intersection of Murrow Boulevard and Lee Street. There has been speculation about the former Chandler Concrete Facility and how its purchase will factor into the plan for the Greenway. It was purchased by Phillips Management Group, LLC. When the company wishes to develop the area, they have reached an agreement with the city that their development will be compatible with the Greenway and the two can complement each other. According to Trip Brown, co-chair of the oversight committee on the Greenway, it will be quite some time before that happens. “They do not anticipate breaking ground on development until the Greenway is either under construction or been completed at that facility,” said Brown. Overall, the Downtown Greenway will have a big impact on the city of Greensboro. It has already brought much business to the area and will help bring the city together when it is used more often in the future. !

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