• On the Church Street side, Marty Kotis purchased the Dorothy Bardolph Building, which currently houses human services including one of the city’s methadone clinics, and is planning a residential development.
• And the spot at the corner of Church and East Market Street, a former luxury auto dealership that long ago housed Kit Rodenbough’s store Design Archives is under construction and will become the Cadillac Service Garage event space.
• The old Gate City Motors dealership remains dormant on the Church Street side, but Thomas Tire opened in the building on the Murrow Street side.
• The Flatiron storefront appears to be for sale again after becoming a hookah spot.
• Artist Kendall Doub added a couple more murals to his portfolio in this neighborhood: “The Wanderer,” on the Showfety Building’s Davie Street side, and “She Waits” at the corner of Friendly and Davie.
Matheny said that the Ballpark District was “next” in terms of neighborhood activation. At the core of it is developer Roy Carroll’s megaproject starting to come together across the street, several planned residential towers and hotels.
“It’s time to go vertical,” Matheny said. “There’s nowhere to go but up.”
This area’s activation also counteracts the “strip” curse; the Bellmeade east-west axis is pedestrian friendly and connects with the Elm Street corridor.
• Roy Carroll’s signature development takes up almost as much sidewalk space as NewBridge Bank Park, a combination of residential, retail office and a hotel, that represents $60 million in downtown investment. There’s major visible construction progress in the last year after a long delay.
• A third hotel from the “boutique chain” Aloft was announced in December on North Eugene Street across from the southern side of the ballpark.
• Local House Bar, just outside the left field fence, struggled for years to sell booze next to the ballpark. Timothy Smith of Chakras and Table 16, has taken over the spot and is looking to revamp the site after he gets Table 16 going, probably right around the time baseball season kicks in.
• Center City Church, under construction the last time around, is up and running.
LoFi’s activation is old news, but in the last few months construction has halted traffic on Eugene Street to one lane between Deep Roots Market and the Preyer/Crafted complex. That’s the Downtown Greenway coming through, though, which should transform the area below Fisher Park for generations to come.
• Joymongers brewery opened in the spring, offering a different take on the neighborhood brewpub than Preyer across the street, as well as a slew of new parking spots.
• Contributing to the beer culture of LoFi, BeerThirty bottleshop opened around the corner on Greene Street in April.
• I’m sure I overlooked plenty of things that have happened in downtown Greensboro since December 2015. Let me know what I missed at [email protected]
There’s more — lots more — to come. Matheny said that downtown Greensboro could see another $300 million in investment.
“Tell me where, in a two-year span, you’ve got close to $500 million invested in a 99-block radius?” he asked.
Besides the projects already described or alluded to, there is early development in the area southwest of the ballpark, now a tangle of downtown street loops and partially used lots, and the northeast corner where Summit Avenue leads to Church Street.
On Matheny’s list for the coming year is public transportation that can move people to the different areas of the sometimes daunting downtown area.
“I wonder if Winston-Salem would sell me their [rubber-tire] trolley,” Matheny wondered aloud.
But the biggest challenge is residential. Urban planners generally cite a threshold of 10,000 downtown residents to achieve the sort of critical mass that can trigger and sustain growth, and downtown Greensboro currently stands at 2,600, Matheny said.
“We are at less than 1 percent,” he said. “That is not a good number. I’d like to get it to 2 percent.”
By 2018, he said that downtown Greensboro should have 3,000 residents, about 1 percent of the city’s population, including hotel rooms — “A lot of people forget that hotels count as residential,” he said. “That’s called ‘heads in beds.’”
And he said DGI will launch a residential feasibility study this year.
“We need some statistics of what the city can absorb, what it might hold,” he said. “Right now there is no inventory, no supply. There is only demand.”