We’ve had our eye on the Bailey Power Plant redevelopment plan for a while and applaud both Winston-Salem and Forsyth County leaders in recognizing its importance to the future of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
The city council and board of county commissioners each voted this week to support the redevelopment of the 103,00 square foot facility to the tune of $3 million. That could help WFIQ leaders and their development partners, Wexford Science and Technology, turn the former electricity and steam plant into a destination office and retail space.
The iconic smokestacks of the Bailey Power Plant were built in the 1920s and have dominated the part of Downtown Winston-Salem that was once home to thousands of tobacco workers. Almost a century later, the project could breathe new life into the plant and power the next phase of downtown redevelopment.
Tobacco workers of all races worked together in those plants and given that the plant is located blocks from East Winston, we found it disheartening for city council members DD Adams and Derwin Montgomery to inject a race element in discussions prior to the vote. But we understand that racial division is a crutch that certain so called “community leaders” would be lost without.
Some cling to the divisions of the past while others embrace the unified future so many of us have been living for decades. Winston-Salem’s downtown is thriving and the WFIQ extends downtown east from the Central Business District toward the traditionally black neighborhoods of East Winston. To wonder if the increased development of WFIQ and Bailey Power Plant will benefit East Winston residents is borderline absurd.
But the project ultimately received unanimous support, as it should have.
Leaders in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have a unified vision of growth into the 21st century that their counterparts in that larger city to the east would do well to emulate. !
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