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by Jordan Green

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winston-salem turns up volume

While one of Greensboro’s most powerful downtown property owners prods the city council to tighten up noise restrictions, a Winston-Salem developer is pushing his council in the opposite direction.

“One of the purposes of what we’re trying to do is create this central entertainment district that would have several uses,” said Hank Perkins, a developer who lives amidst a cluster of entertainment venues that includes Ziggy’s, the Garage and the District Roof Top Bar & Grille. “We want to bring in residential uses.”

Perkins owns 9th Street Properties, which owns the Ziggy’s property. (Disclosure, Ziggy’s business is owned in part by YES! Weekly publisher Charles Womack and this writer works as a reporter out of the Ziggy’s building.)

Winston-Salem City Council members discussed the need to protect the business interests of loud nightclubs by creating a new zoning classification, amending the city’s noise ordinance or a combination of both at a public safety committee meeting on Monday night.

“I think we have a responsibility to protect our investment downtown,” Southeast Ward Councilman James Taylor Jr. said. “We’ve invested a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of resources in downtown. We actually have a site in Winston- Salem that is renowned for entertainment in downtown. And you have people coming from Greensboro. They’re eating in our restaurants. They’re buying homes. They’re putting money into our downtown, so I think it’s important to keep that going. I support the noise enhanced areas and I like the idea of the entertainment district.”

Other council members piled on. “One thing I just heard recently was from some young professionals who work in Greensboro and many of their colleagues have said, ‘Oh, you ought to move to Winston and drive to Greensboro. Winston is a much more fun place to live,’” South Ward Councilwoman Molly Leight said. “Certainly I think our downtown has been a success in terms of trying to get young folks down there.”

North Ward Councilwoman Denise D. Adams said timing is critical as the city prepares for growth.

“We need to go ahead and think about this seriously,” she said. “We’ve seen already the past two decades cities that they faltered, they stumbled on getting things in place to move ahead — the infrastructure of housing and roads and other things. I think we’re in a great place to be right now…. And there are going to be some challenges. But we need to be thinking about that 100,000 people we keep talking about. Where will they go? They’re going to be downtown.”

Drew Gerstmyer, a consultant who is working with 9th Street Properties, said other cities are struggling to balance the interests of existing residences with the entertainment industry.

“Durham said that if we get this figured out to let them know,” he said.

While Greensboro’s downtown economic development plan, with Center Pointe as its anchor, may hinge on attracting empty-nesters, Winston-Salem is making a play for a different generation.

“We’re looking to retain young people,” Adams said. “We all were young once. You like loud music. You don’t feel like you’re a part of it unless it’s loud. And anybody that says they didn’t must have lost their hearing. The point is we all need to think in terms of our customer base. If we’re going to grow our city, what are some of the things that are going to make our city unique? Greensboro would have loved to have known what they know now about their downtown area.”

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