Greensboro to buy Canada Dry plant and Coliseum Inn

by Jordan Green

Greensboro to buy Canada Dry plant and Coliseum Inn

The Greensboro City Council voted 5-3 on Nov. 18 on separate motions to purchase the Canada Dry bottling plant and the Coliseum Inn on High Point Road for a total of $5.3 million. The purchases were backed by the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greensboro Sports Commission, the Lee Street Merchants Association and area residents. John Helms, a Summerfield developer, said council’s approval of the purchases would positively affect plans to develop property he has under contract at the intersection of High Point Road and Patterson Street into a complex that features some combination of restaurants, retail and hotel accommodations. Voting in favor of buying the properties were Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Anderson Groat, at-large Councilman Robbie Perkins, District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, District 2 Councilwoman Goldie Wells and District 3 Councilman Zack Matheny. The council’s three conservatives, at-large Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw, District 4 Councilman Mike Barber and District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade voted against the move. Council members concurred that the

area needs to be revitalized, and that the Coliseum Inn — which houses poor residents, many of them teetering on the brink of homelessness — should be razed, but the conservatives got hung up on the financing plan for buying up the properties. City Manager Mitchell Johnson said the city would use installment financing to pay for the properties by paying only interest for the first four years, and then use proceeds from the sale of the former downtown library to the Bryan Foundation to pay off the loan on the Canada Dry building in 2013. Wade noted that the nation is “having a lot of problems with lending institutions going down,” adding: “What worried me about that is we’re counting on money that we really don’t know is going to be there, especially if the stock market continues to fall.” Johnson said he was confident that the Bryan Foundation, which is headed by former Mayor Jim Melvin, will be solvent in five years. “The foundation is tremendously well funded,” Johnson said. “They’ve taken a hit, but they’ve continued to pay on their other obligations.”

Wells said purchasing the two properties was a way for the council to demonstrate vision and leadership. “We don’t know whether we’re going to live tomorrow,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re going to have in the bank tomorrow, because life is just like that, but we deal

with hope and we deal with what we want the future to be like, and we make our decisions based on what we think is going to happen tomorrow.”

— Jordan Green