DGI wants to steal “low hanging fruit”

According to a report commissioned by Downtown Greensboro, Inc., retail sales ($43M) in our center city are running way behind potential sales that the Norfolk, VA. consulting firm of H. Blount Hunter says should come in around $118M.

Today’s N&R article on the study says that most of the efforts toward increasing retail sales should be concentrated on South Elm Street.

No problem, thought I. Good idea, thought I. Increasing retail space to the recommended 100 – 300,000 square feet, from the current 64,000 would be a good thing and help buid the critical mass that should bring more and more folks downtown. This would also entice more developers to the city’s efforts at revitalizing the part of South Elm below Lee Street. Let’s do it.

But then, in the last paragraph of the article, we find that the consultants have rubber stamped a regurgitated idea that was first proposed by DGI in 2002. “… move Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market from 501 Yanceyville Street to the center city.” The president of the consulting firm is quoted, “The fit is very good… I see that as low hanging fruit.”

What a dumbass idea. Go grow your own fruit and quit stealing from others, DGI.

The reason the Farmers Curb Market (Obama likes it) is so successful is because it, like the products offered under its roof, has grown organically, honestly, over nearly a century of cultivation by the city and the myriad vendors who operate there. Such a relocation would be akin to moving Charleston’s Old City Market to Disney World or some such.

Much like removing minor league baseball from War Memorial Stadium, removing the thousands of people who frequent the Farmer’s Market will only serve to further distance the public from public facilities in East Greensboro. It makes little sense to promote the development of one area of a city to the detriment of another, which is exactly what this idea would do. Removing the Market from its current location would effectively dim the chances of implementing the development ideas in the city’s own Summit Avenue Corridor Study which tries to lure money and businesses eastward.

The better idea would be to rezone the two block area separating the Farmer’s Market from the edge of the Central Business District (CBD) and include it in that designation to encourage developers to head that way. The footprint of the CBD has long been lamented as being to small, anyway. Expand the Market in its current location – perhaps just across the street from the seemingly-doomed War Memorial Stadium’s grounds.

But I suppose, for true poetic justice to take hold and to more completely slap the neighborhoods bordering the Market and WMS upside the head, the powers that be would work toward relocating Greensboro’s historic Farmer’s Market right next to New Bridge Bank ballpark.

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28 Comments

  1. mick
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Ah, I see my “downtownitis” is contagious.

  2. Posted August 22, 2008 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I think you pretty much nailed it.

  3. Posted August 22, 2008 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Not to give you a hard time but the article states that,

    “The study also encouraged city government to consider downtown for catalyst projects that would generate additional economic activity.

    One possibility would be to move Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market from 501 Yanceyville St. to the center city.

    “The fit is very good,” says Blount Hunter, president of the research firm. “I see that as low-hanging fruit.”

    I didn’t read that DGI “wants to steal low hanging fruit.”

  4. Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    This was first brought up by DGI and Action Greensboro back in ’02. And now they have an out of town consultant saying the idea is a good one.

    If you believe the idea is going to just go away, or that DGI isn’t going to attempt to move the Market “downtown”, you don’t know how things work around here, Ryan.

    If DGI is not going to pursue this idea, then I would urge them to say so. Explicitly.

    But I seriously doubt that will happen. They want it, a consultant concurs and has identified the move as no-brainer. Fights will ensue, and money – not common sense – usually prevails in such fights.

    Don’t be such a babe in the woods.

  5. Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Playing devil’s advocate: in several nearby “attractive” cities where we occasionally weekend (it’s a cheap getaway), we walk through downtowns and some have great farmers’ markets right in center city. Heck, NYC closed down a big street for a market on the weekend we were there, so it’s not uncommon.

    If the farmer’s market moved to center city, or closer to the edge, (we’re just speculating here, Hogg, so be calm), might that not help grow the farmer’s market?

    It took a hit (not sure how big or how lasting) when the I-40 market opened; growing the market would be a good thing, yes? Can it grow where it is? (that’s a real question; am disclaimering as fast as I can type).

    What future does the FM have where it is? do you see it growing? staying the same? What’s the best outcome for the market AND the neighborhood?

    Personally, I would rather see the market stay where it is in some fashion but might like to see an annex or special situation for some vendors in or near downtown. But that’s just my opinion and does not reflect anything I’ve heard because other than right here, I haven’t heard anything about the FM.

    (I haven’t been called a “babe” in a long time. It might just feel good :)

  6. dhoggard
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I see expansion of it in its current location, Sue. There is plenty of room right across the street in the form of an old baseball stadium.

    The P&R Dept. knows the need and could address it quickly.

    The Farmer’s Market has grown and thrived since the opening of the new one out on Sandy Ridge.

    The best outcome for our neighborhood and the market has been outlined in the Summit Avenue study. Moving the market goes against the city’s plans for the area.

    This isn’t going to happen without a fight, Sue.

  7. dhoggard
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Oh… and another thing… unless I’m geographically challenged… 99% of the world would consider Aycock, WMS and the Market as being in “downtown” Greensboro.

    This point is continuously and myopically lost on AG and DGI.

    How’s about spending a little energy and money enhancing connections from our area of the city with the more central portions of the city and grow the whole – perhaps with a pedestrian loop or some such. ;-)

  8. Bert
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    The bigger point of the article was the poor condition of downtown retail space and high rent. Why not focus on that problem, which is huge, rather than destroying another areas economic engine?

  9. mick
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Someone has been multitasking!

  10. mick
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Im a dreaded suburbanite, responsible for urban sprawl and all and I live in a newly annexed portion of the city. I would consider 501 “downtown”. Is it just me? Wouldnt it be easier to promote the existing market location rather than move it? And if by center city they are referring to the park wouldnt that mean the market would then be outside? Parking seems an issue for the weekday version as well. Sue questions growth potential of market. How about the fact that it has survived for 50 years as is. Isnt thatw orth something? I would think an out door or at least semi outdoor venue would be preferable.

    I guess all those downtowners have gotten to where if it aint in “the box” it dont count. Six blocks from Newbridge isnt exactly the burbs ya know. Get on all those bikes you claim we need paths for and go to 501 and quit whining. Sheesh.

  11. Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Is the FM on the path of any of the (potential) greenway? Darn, that’d be great.

    Hogg: “Oh… and another thing… unless I’m geographically challenged… 99% of the world would consider Aycock, WMS and the Market as being in “downtown” Greensboro.”

    There’s a difference between “downtown” and “center city.” Maybe it’s less than .5 miles, but there’s a difference. I’ll ignore the snark because it’s one of your most endearing qualities :)

    [Obviously, I'm not as familiar with the FM and the area as you are, which is why I'm asking.]

  12. dhoggard
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I realize there is a difference between “center city” and “downtown”. I was simply responding to your statement, “…but might like to see an annex or special situation for some vendors in or near downtown.”

    The market, at its current location, is both in AND near downtown. Agreed? It is not, however, in the Central Business District. That could be easily rectified with a swoop of the zoning wand and we would likely welcome the change. Because then we would be on AG’s and DGI’s honored list of areas that might be worthy of their support.

  13. Bert
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    The greenway is a great question, and we have asked the planners to please put the greenway through the area of the market, or through our neighborhood since it goes right through Fisher Park and could easily connect. So far there has been talk of a “spur” path leading to the market instead.
    For all those here who want to read our own neighborhood plan, which references the market quite a bit, here is a link:
    http://www.historicaycock.org/Documents/Summit%20Final%20Report.pdf
    The relevant pages are 5, 9, 19, and 26-27. Many parts of the plan, at least the ones we can affect, are going forward, such as improvements to the Aycock Middle School grounds and the Neighborwoods.
    I don’t know how many neighborhoods have, on their own, put together a strategic plan, complete with market analysis, and implemented it. I am really proud of that.

  14. Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Sue needs some magical food supplement to make sure she says “downtown” when she means it and “central biz district” when she means that. Sorry for the confusion I apparently caused in my own head and translated into typed text.

    Bert, thanks for the info. That’s great!

  15. Posted August 22, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    This post instigates me to ask:
    “David, are you happy with your current city council representative?”

  16. Posted August 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    For the most part, Tony. Dr. Wells has been completely supportive of all of my neighborhood’s efforts since even before she was elected.

    If you are suggesting that she somehow has had a hand in this attempt at ‘urban removal’, I’ll pretty much guarantee you that nether she, nor other council members, had any idea this suggestion is on the table unless they read today’s newspaper.

  17. mick
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    So there are technical or definitive differences between Center City, Central Business District and the more generic “downtown”. Maybe I knew that. But, are we sure that the general public knows or more importantly cares? I would still have to go with including The FM as part of the downtown scene. Marketing wise anyway. Or is that too unpalatable for true downtown types?

    This seems to fall under “If it aint broke …. Dont fix it.”

  18. Reece Coble
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I am completely supportive of downtown Greensboro. I am in my mid 60′s and when I was a young person, I would travel usually by thumbing from Pleasant Garden to go to downtown Greensboro. I would go to the different movie theaters and simply have a good time.
    I would like to commend the development of our downtown, they even voted theirselves a tax increase for more law enforcement. I have heard how the night life has became, it’s a draw to downtown, folks are making money, giving our taxpaers a place to go. Overall it’s a good thing. Keep up the good work, give our citizens a good, safe place to go out for the evening. That’s about all we have left……………Again a job well done, thanks……….

  19. Posted August 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Mick, whether the general public knows – dunno. But should they care? Certainly! When development is on the table, the funds available and legal definitions play a big part in what can be done. On an econ dev trip (a few years ago) when I walking-toured in a group that included Ed Kitchen (our former City manager), I learned a lot about the impact of the differences in grants, funding, and resources. Palate has very little to do with it, I think; it’s pretty legal and I’m certainly not the person to try to explain it.

  20. Reece Coble
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Yes, by all means have a Farmers Market, smack in the middle of downtown Greensboro. This will be a draw to have more folks buy homes there. Let’s get downtown Greensboro back to a thriving community…..Lets have a good (Big) grocery store, all that needs to be supportave of a growing community, and above keep crime to a absolute minimal……….Going South on Elm Street cross the railroad tracks the first business to the right was once owned by the Everhart family, and guess what it was. A open air market(better known as a farmers market)… It along with the Railroad,trollycars,Blumenthals,Woolworths,Belks,Myers and too many others to mention made this into a thriving community and business section, guess what happened, the MALLS and they are ready to go belly up. Support our down town, bring our heritage back……..May God Bless……..

  21. Reece Coble
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Hoggard:
    We have had disagreements is the past. But I believe you will agree with me that LARRY PROCTOR, who is running for County Commissioner at Large, will be one of the most supportave folks who may help you, in your latest endeavor. He is a person who believes in downtown Greensboro. Sir at least check his qualification’s out. On your blog you have not mentioned this, but this is very important to all who owns property inside the City of Greensboro. May I assist you, he is a person who belives in God. He and his brother Harold owns and operates Sedgefield Outdoor and Equipment, Sedegefield Lawn and Garden. They are both very well respected. I would appreciate an endorsement, sir you could not go wrong. May God Bless…….

  22. Reece Coble
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    When I was talking about LARRY PROCTOR “Candidate for County Commissioner at Large” I made a statement that he would help folks down town,in the city of Greensboro. May I repute this he is a persono that will help folks all in Guilford County, which includes, Greensboro and High Point, and in all areas in Guilford County.
    Goodness it is so easy to mess up…….VOTE “LARRY PROCTOR”County Commissioner of Guilford County………………….

  23. Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the recommendation, Reece. I’ll take a close look at him as well as his competition. However, he is not in my district.

    Now, please. We got your message about Proctor. Caps and all. Please don’t enter into the same level of redundancy about him as you did on the other recent thread. It bores me and my readers.

    You got your plug in. Let’s move on.

    Did you know there are several other blogs in and about Greensboro politics? Go here: http://www.greensboro101.com and check out some of the others and spread yourself out a little.

  24. Posted August 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Caught in a spam filter?

  25. Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Sometime over 100 years ago a huge hole was dug just one block from my east Greensboro home. From that hole was mined the stones, rock and gravel that all of downtown Greensboro, College Hill, Aycock, Fisher Park, Irving Park and most other Greensboro historic neighborhoods were built. Today, while ownership of that property has been assumed by the City of Greensboro that piece of property that measures as big or bigger than the downtown central business district remains a vacant, undeveloped dumping ground, drug dealer’s paradise and eye sore. It is in-fact the largest eye sore property in the entire city.

    When I was a kid the thriving East Market Street and East Bessemer business districts were robbed of their assets in order to support downtown Greensboro and Friendly Shopping Center.

    Even our school and community center were taken from us.

    For well over 100 years east Greensboro has been robbed of everything that was good so that downtown Greensboro might thrive. Do you really believe anything is going to change? Moving the Farmer’s Market will reduce pressure to save War Memorial Stadium as the stadium will over time become less noticed by the Saturday FM crowd.

    This is simply another attempt to steal from the poor to give to the rich.

    And you’ll notice that once again Sue takes the side of Melvin and company.

  26. Reece Coble
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I think what I have written was taken in the wrong contex. We do not have to move the current Farmers Market anywhere. I did not mean that at all. I firmly believe that there will be enough business to support two (2) farmer’s markets.
    No, do not move the one that is there now. Let’s give our citizens and farmers a choice where to sell their goods,and purchase same. However do not overcharge for spaces for the farmers and folks who wish to sell their foods. We do not need a flea maket down town, but a famers market
    Just today my wife and myself went to the State of N.C. farmers market located on Sandy Ridge Road at I-40 and the folks were there by the hundreds. With the growth coming to downtown Greensboro we can support two (2) farmers markets, inside the City. It’s simple one downtown and the other where it is now, and the State of North Carolina’s one near the Forsyth, Guilford County line. And from what we saw today and varous other times a lot of folks who lives within the city limits of Greensboro, go to the state farmers market on Sandy Ridge Road & I-40. We can certainally give all a try…..

  27. Phil F
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    There are already two well-known farmer’s markets in Greensboro, one being the Piedmont Triad (State) farmer’s market on Sandy Ridge which you reference Reece and the other being the Curb Farmer’s Market which is the subject of this blog. Both have a unique appeal. The Curb Farmer’s Market should remain in its current, cozy space adjacent to the central business district so that it can continue to attract truly local produce and products that have made its name. I agree with all of those who wrote that its location brings much needed exposure and traffic to the area just east of downtown.

  28. Reece Coble
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Phil F.
    Sir:
    You did your best to say what’s in the best interest of downtown Greensboro. I do not think you live there. Agin sir leave the farmers market where it is. OK.Now over and done with, have the City of Greensboro to make a farmers market DOWNTOWN. Again it’s simple. Leave the one where it is (do not get me started I will tell you the complete history, with photos where the current one is) but I am merely saying put one in DOWNTOWN Greensboro.
    The folks who live in downtown Greensboro need a Farmers Market, you folks do not realize that these folks who live there do not wish to drive(conserve gas). They are just like all folks they wish to have something close. When I say something close, it is to buy groceries, duh is that simple enough.
    I stated what I and my wife saw last week at the N.C. State Farmers Market, located at Sandy Ridge Road & I-40. Again there were hundreds of folks, and I might add the folks who were selling their goods were paying tops for their rent.
    I think the City of Greensboro can afford two (2) farmers markets (1) in downtown Greensboro and the other where it is at the old National Guard Armory, where it is currently located. When I say in downtown Greensboro, bi-goodness its in downtown Greensboro.
    And if God,work and all will able farmers,customers and etc to drive all the way to the Guilford-Forsyth County line to shop, that will be ok. But to be completely honest, we have not found bargans there at all………………..In other words give our farmers and citizens two places in Greensboro to sell their goods, and buy them. And if they can afford to buy the gas go to the farmers located at Sandy Ridge Road & I-40, paid for by our state taxes. Then in turn they lease these spaces out to our farmers at a high rate…….In other words, you will not save anything driving out there, do not take my word, go there and price items……..

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