Unity is Lacking

The “Two Greensboros” theme was on display again this week when a back of the napkin plan for the Union Square Campus appeared out of nowhere to displace months of deliberations and site planning.

It’s no wonder Greensboro is falling behind other major cities in North Carolina if this is how business gets done.

At a special meeting of the Redevelopment Commission of Greensboro on Monday, commissioners came in expecting to consider amendments to the main developer’s agreement in order that the city might give away two acres of land for the only component project on the table thus far.

The main agreement doesn’t allow the city to give away the land.

But instead, debate centered on a new plan to move the proposed unified nursing campus being backed by UNCG, NC A&T, GTCC and Cone Health a block west of the site approved by the commission and advanced by Union Square Campus Inc., the non-profit entity created to manage the project.

This caught some commissioners off guard, as they objected to having months of planning and deliberations tossed aside. Some also objected to being forced to consider a site plan that had not been explored or vetted for necessary pre-construction tasks.

But most of the debate contained a racial component. The long-considered site is on the eastern edge of the South Elm Redevelopment zone, adjacent to property owned by New Zion Baptist Church, which itself plans to build a new facility.

Some church leaders, and both African-American members of the Redevelopment Commission, thought it was questionable to move the Union Square Campus a block away from the church site, especially after the city just signed an agreement to use church parking to augment 250 city financed spaces at the campus.

The debate was tense, and borderline ugly, for its tone of condescension toward members of the black community.

The new campus site does appear to have some merit, but the way the plan appeared out of the blue, instead of being thoughtfully presented along the many months of planning, was all wrong. !

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