Stimulus for east GSO

by Brian Clarey

Taking the microphone as the Healthy Homes bus trundled up East Lee Street last Thursday, CC Lamberth’s passion for east Greensboro was irrepressible.

“I burn, eat, drink and sleep this thing, because this is where I’m at,” he said.

A developer, Lamberth said he employs 18 people at his business on Banner Avenue. He wants retail development, jobs and housing improvements here. As he returned to his seat, he concurred with fellow rider Joe Frierson.

“Got to go east,” he said of the city. “Nowhere else to go.” Lamberth pointed out the Gateway University Research on the right, a nanotechnology research center that is expected to create 2,000 jobs as it builds out over the next decade. UNC President Tom Ross had celebrated research in the related field of advanced composite materials at NC A&T University during his inauguration at the university earlier in the day. Ross said a partner company in Morganton employing 25 workers is producing helicopter replacement parts based on materials designed and certified at A&T.

The Greensboro Housing Coalition, which hosts the annual Healthy Homes tour, is spearheading the new Cottage Grove initiative, which seeks to bring in new investment to revitalize housing while strengthening education in the community. The target area is more or less an oval positioned midway between the campuses of A&T and the nanotech center.

Hampton Elementary, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and a number of property management companies are partners in the undertaking with the housing coalition.

Avalon Trace, a low-income apartment complex that is home to many of the city’s refugees, is in the heart of the community. Skip Crowe with the housing coalition said the nonprofit is working with the owners of the property to redevelop it. He envisions mixed-income housing that would both lift up the standard of living for existing residents and accommodate new arrivals that want to live close to jobs at spin-off firms near the nanotech center.

After the election in November, the new mayor and city council cannot be wallflowers at this dance, when the president of the state’s university system has recognized the potential of this region and an array of community players are committing time, treasure and talent to its success.

Mayoral candidate Robbie Perkins told A&T students last week that he and District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small want to build a road north from the nanotech center to the GTCC campus on East Wendover Avenue to create a high-tech business corridor as a home for businesses that exploit the research. District 2 Councilman Jim Kee is also a proponent of the road, which would function as a north-south connector, much as Holden Road does in the west. A ballpark price tag is about $40 million.

We propose a bold move: Put the item on a bond referendum next year, and then fast-track the issuance of the debt, just like the city has done with the aquatic center and SciQuarium, instead of letting the bonds languish for the next decade. Whoever wins the election, we hope the new council will take on this worthy project.

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