Local Community Development Corporations

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Winston-Salem Named in "America's 50 Best Cities" by BusinessWeek

Winston-Salem was ranked as the 46th best city in the country according to the following calculus:

Cities were scored in 16 categories: the number of restaurants, bars, and museums per capita; the number of colleges, libraries, and professional sports teams; the income, poverty, unemployment, crime, and foreclosure rates; percent of population with bachelor’s degrees, public school performance, park acres per 1,000 residents, and air quality.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Winston-Salem Journal Article About Downtown Population

Planners hope to get input on population growth

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Over the past 10 years, downtown Winston-Salem has added restaurants and nightclubs, improved sidewalks to make them more pedestrian-friendly and increased police patrols to make visitors feel more at ease.
But perhaps the most important growth downtown has been the number of people who live there.
From 2000 to 2010, the number of people living downtown roughly doubled, from about 1,200 residents to about 2,500, U.S. census figures show. Forsyth County planners expect that over the next 20 years, the county could grow by 120,000 people. Downtown could end up being home to about 30,000 of those people, planners estimate.
"Given the limited amount of land we have to fit 120,0000 people, where do they think that additional 120,000 people should be distributed?" said Paul Norby, planning department director.
To deal with that growth, the City-County Planning Department is reworking its Legacy Plan, an overarching document that guides development for all of Forsyth County.
The department has built a website, www.legacy2030.com, where Forsyth County residents can give input about how the county grows. The department has also held a series of public meetings, at which people have discussed population growth and what they want Winston-Salem, Forsyth County and the smaller towns and cities in the county to look like in 20 years. The next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, focuses on three main areas: downtown Winston-Salem, the suburbs and neighborhoods outside downtown Winston-Salem, and the rural parts of Forsyth County.
Norby said Tuesday's meeting will include breakout sessions focusing on each of those areas. People who are interested in downtown living, for example, might join the downtown-centered session, or people who are interested in the suburbs — neighborhood sidewalks, say, or public playgrounds — might join the suburban session.
"We're hoping people that are interested in local food, farmland preservation and rural character will come and participate in our breakout sessions on that," he said. "We want to have people in groups helping us answer some questions, get some discussion going. What are the challenges, what are the goals? What is the vision for each area?"
The downtown area in particular could use creative ideas, Norby said. An additional 30,000 residents would need more apartments or condominiums or homes in an already dense area. Norby said there are buildings that could be rehabilitated, or new buildings could be built.
"We've got several hundred new housing units that are being added (already)," Norby said. "You've got a lot of room with just the existing buildings to add housing. … Then you've got places where you've got a lot of surface parking lots that could be developed that could have structured parking with housing wrapped around it."
Norby said city-county planners hope to have a draft of the new Legacy Plan by next summer. The plan will need to pass a series of public hearings, and will need approval from both the Winston-Salem City Council and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners before it is enacted.
lgraff@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7279

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Downtown Library to be built in 2014

That is, if the citizens of Forsyth County vote for the construction of a new library rather than a rehabilitation of the existing Central Library at public meetings to be held before 2014. But the major hurdle was passed yesterday as the Forsyth County Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve plans to update or build a new library. It is notable that the single commissioner to vote against the plan did so because not because he didn't believe a new library was necessary but because he thought the proposed plan moved too slowly.

It is also notable that plans to improve or build new libraries in Kernersville and Clemmons were also a part of the plan: those projects would not start until later this decade - 2019 and 2017 respectively - after the downtown Winston-Salem measure would be completed. Part of the commissioner's concern who voted against the plan did so based on the belief that interest rates would rise in the coming years and so waiting so long to start the projects would add to the cost of the projects.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update on Proposed/Planned Merger of Winston-Salem's Three Major Development Organizations

In April I wrote this post concerning a plan to unite the fundraising and planning efforts of Winston-Salem's three major economic development organizations: the Winston-Salem Alliance, Winston-Salem Biz Inc., and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. As I reported before, the W-S Alliance is composed of many prominent local leaders, W-S Biz Inc. was spun out of the Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and focuses on attracting new companies or industries to W-S, while the Downtown Partnership is a large group comprised of many shareholders whose mandate is the revitalization of the downtown area.

According to an article in today's Winston-Salem Journal, the Alliance and Winston-Salem Biz have signed onto the plan and the board of the Partnership is set to vote on the matter in September. There is concern that the plan, which is the brainchild of and is being spearheaded by the Alliance, represents an attempt to return to the good 'ol days when the city's fortunes wre controlled by a few wealthy tycoons: that the Alliance would have too much say in how monies allotted to the specific mandates of the other two groups would be spent.

In my analysis, the plan could and should benefit W-S. Fundraising is a painful, thankless job for all involved - any attempts to increase its efficiency should be embraced. In terms of planning: these organizations have missional and jurisdictional overlaps which would be benefited by coordinated efforts. I think the Alliance has more in common with Biz Inc. than with the Downtown Partnership and I will leave the decision whether it is in their best interest to join forces in the capable hands of their board. In the end, while I would scrutinize the decision-making process for disbursing the fruits of fundraising closely, I think the plan is a good idea.