The 800-pound gorilla in the room

0
237

_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

A lot of people have been asking me what I think of last week’s city council decision to hand over a block of Lindsay Street to developer Roy Carroll, who will absorb it into his growing downtown footprint.

They’re asking, I suppose, because Carroll has owned our Greensboro competitor the Rhino Times since last October, when he resurrected it from bankruptcy and celebrated by buying a yacht named Rhino and a monster truck with the pachyderm’s visage plastered on its flanks.

We were both in Undercurrent restaurant at the same time a few weeks ago. I was dropping off the new issue; he was having a nice lunch.

You’ve got to give it to him: Carroll is one of the guys in Greensboro who is getting it done. He rescued a dormant high-rise and added to the city skyline, just as he added a noise ordinance to the city’s municipal code. The two are not unrelated. He entered the publishing business, seemingly on a whim, by absorbing the defunct Rhino’s debt. And now he’s got a massive mixed-use project coming to the north end of downtown, razing more buildings than Sherman to make way for a hotel, retail space, parking and accommodations for about 300 new residents in the district.

Early drawings of the project show an imposing building that looks meant for a suburban space, an island planted in the middle of an interdependent downtown neighborhood, with ground-floor parking

It’s great news for a downtown in need of bodies, infill that will feed a growing cultural scene amid what amounts to urban sprawl in the neighborhood, a tangible gesture of good faith in the city — provided, that is, he can fill it with residents and tenants. His track record in downtown Greensboro has not been so great on that measure.

And he pretty much said he wouldn’t do it unless he got Lindsay Street — which he did, in an 8-1 city council decision that seems to have been determined long before it became an object in the public consciousness. District 2 Councilman Jamal Fox was the lone no vote.

You’d think he would have nailed down the design details before he bought all those plots and tore down those building. Or perhaps he knew the city would acquiesce once he threatened to take his ball and go home.

Roy Carroll has convinced our council that what’s good for him is also good for Greensboro.

Perhaps they don’t see that a man who so forcefully imposes his vision and will upon a city and its people may not be good for anyone but himself.