BREAKING: Rioters arrested at Greenbridge

So remember last year when I said that the people threatening violence against Greenbridge were doing more harm than good? They made a bomb threat against the building while it was under construction. Did it make Greenbridge better or cheaper or more accessible? Did it help the developers better serve the community? Did it help the community combat the rising cost of living in Chapel Hill?  No, but it probably served to make a small group of activists feel better about themselves.

Yesterday, a group of anarchists entered the lobby of Greenbridge intent on destruction. The group of over 30 demonstrators were armed with an anvil, and proceeded to do major damage to the floor, a glass table, and several pieces of artwork. Eight people were arrested Several people were detained, and three were held on felony inciting a riot charges until they were released from the Orange County Jail on a total of $8,000 bond.*

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?

So I was catching up on the Chapel Hill News yesterday and I noticed some eery similarity in two stories about new downtown developments in both Carrboro and Chapel Hill. In one article, questions are raised about how the developers of Greenbridge qualified for the gigantic loan that they are currently unable to repay. It should surprise no-one to learn that the 15% of the condos that were mandated to be affordable by the Town sold first.  It turns out that when the bank looked at pre-sales to determine demand, they counted the number, rather than the value, of the units. In fact, the News goes so far as to ask whether the affordable housing policy itself is somehow at fault for Greenbidge's current financial problems. I think that's a stretch, but it does make you think twice about the process by which banks decide to make commercial loans. (Housing bubble anyone?)

In another story, the News talks about the recently restarted mixed-use project at 300 East Main Street in Carrboro, which will bring 5 stories of retail, housing offices, a hotel, and parking to the current run-down strip mall that houses the ArtsCenter and the Cat's Cradle. (VisArt, RIP.)  One key element that helped Main Street Partners to secure their financing for this was the Town of Carrboro agreeing to lease a large number of parking spaces for the first few years after construction.

Greenbridge protesters doing more harm than good (updated)

This morning, the west end of downtown Chapel Hill was immobilized when someone called in a bomb threat against the rising Greenbridge development. I understand that some people have issues with tall buildings in Chapel Hill, although I don't especially.  But I do share the concerns that many have about the gentrification of Northside. However, the fact is that Greenbridge didn't create either of those problems, and stopping it isn't going to help solve them either.

CROSSPOST: Landscape, Memory, and East54

I recently saw Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy give an interesting speech on the problem that everyone seems to think that Chapel Hill was just perfect right about the time they got there. Kevin is not the first person to have observed this, and he won’t be the last, but I thought it might be interesting to share this item I stumbled across while researching an unrelated topic. R. L. Gray wrote an essay on Chapel Hill in the News & Observer (reprinted in NC Journal of Law, Vol 1, pp 516-518, 1904):

"Let the man have been tarred with the University stick and he will tell you along with his after-dinner cigar that he has a notion of some day building a house at Chapel Hill – and there remaining to the end of the chapter in the one place where he believes he can obtain a large and perfect peace. There men cling to the town and its surroundings with a memory that is both tenacious and jealous of details.

Building a Green-Brown-Bridge

Recently I’ve been thinking about Barack Obama, Henry Louis Gates, Van Jones, and Greenbridge.

When tension around race comes up, our society has a really difficult time differentiating between individual incidents of incivility and patterns of bias. South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson thinks that an apology for his single act of disrespect is enough. But others see his “You Lie” comment towards the President to be part of a larger racial pattern questioning Obama’s authority. Henry Louis Gates saw being arrested in his own home in the light of a larger pattern of racial profiling. The police officer who arrested him thought he was just arresting a guy who threatened his authority.

Closer to home, Greenbridge and its developers continue to come under criticism for gentrifying Northside, and some attacks this summer called the Greenbridge developers racist. UNC-NOW and other Greenbridge critics see this project as a part of the larger pattern of African-American displacement in Chapel Hill. Not surprisingly, Greenbridge’s developers say they’re just one project impacting the neighborhood, and one that came relatively late to the gentrification party at that.



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