23. Skip Alston
This guy: The former director of the board that runs the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in downtown Greensboro and ex-chair of the Guilford County Commission didn’t have an office to run for this year, but he kept his hand in the game by backing Wade’s gambit, claiming that the redistricting would increase African-American representation on Greensboro City Council. When the city sued for an injunction, Alston mustered a group to file an intervening motion. He was also part of the museum group that “accidentally” sued the News & Record for libel in December, though that lawsuit was pulled a day later.
24. Charles Aycock
Turns out one of the state’s most prominent citizens — and for whom a street, a neighborhood, a school and an auditorium at UNCG are named — was very much a bad guy. Charles Aycock was elected governor of the state in a campaign that pushed segregation, white supremacy and the systemic disenfranchisement of black voters. UNCG brought up the idea of changing the name of its auditorium on its own.
25. Roy Carroll
If you don’t recognize the name Roy Carroll, you either just moved to town or don’t live in Greensboro. Because Carroll, now the publisher of the Rhino Times conservative opinion-based publication, is one of the city’s largest developers, with a hand in everything from a possible new skyscraper to a recent noise ordinance. Carroll purchased the CityView apartments in Southside and convinced the city to close part of Lindsay Street by the Grasshoppers stadium for a new apartment complex and hotel project of his own. Progress did occur this year on the site, known as the Bellemeade Village or less officially as Carrolltown, but one would have to pay close attention to notice the minimal changes behind the construction fencing.
26. Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet
The guard in downtown Winston-Salem’s Arts District is constantly changing. This year painter, muralist and gallery stalwart Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet cut loose after more than 15 years at [email protected], which she says has become more of a gallery than a studio. “The galleries do well while studio artists suffer,” she told TCB in November. “I think that just happens in cities. I don’t think there’s anything we can do to prevent it.”
27. Brent Christensen
The Greensboro Partnership has undergone numerous significant changes as of late, the most recent being the arrival of new CEO Brent Christensen, who arrived from Mississippi in the early summer. He brought David Ramsey, the new vice president of economic development at the partnership, with him from the Mississippi Development Authority. The two men were widely heralded as a breath of fresh air, particularly thanks to Christensen’s experience, candidness and approach to the position.
28. Zack Matheny
In the timeline of Zack Matheny’s life, there may be several years more significant than 2015, but it’d be hard for this one not to rank near the top. For starters, Matheny resigned from his position on Greensboro City Council — commenting at the time that his wife and kids had only ever known him in the role — to run Downtown Greensboro Inc. In many ways, Matheny had led the charge against his predecessor, Jason Cannon, for his handling of several issues. And then, not long after taking the organization’s helm, Matheny received a DWI. He managed to hold onto his post, though his director of operations resigned promptly after the incident.
29. Nancy Vaughan
The mayor of Greensboro breezed through her re-election campaign this fall, becoming the first mayor since Keith Holliday to win a second term (Yvonne Johnson, Bill Knight and Robbie Perkins all served just one term as mayor). Vaughan prides herself and this council on avoiding contentiousness while still tackling other issues that previous councils and mayors avoided like contagious diseases, such as any mention of the Greensboro Massacre or police accountability.
30. Bailey Park and Artivity on the Green
Downtown Winston-Salem’s public parks took a quantum leap forward in 2015. On any given Friday from May through October, art-crawl revelers could be seen frolicking in the new Artivity on the Green, a reclaimed parking lot surrounded by a 124-foot mural wall, centered on majestic red spires with mist shooting into the air. Drive a couple blocks over to the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and there was the new Bailey Park, most likely with a band playing on the stage. Stitch Design Shop, incidentally, won awards for both projects from the American Institute of Architects’ Winston-Salem Design Section, which covers 11 counties in northwest North Carolina.
31. Rich Fork Preserve
The 117-acre Rich Fork Preserve surfaced as a bright spot on the horizon for High Point in early 2015. A gorgeous natural area surrounding a 19th Century farmstead, the preserve lies in the central-western part of the city. But the preserve quickly became a flashpoint in a controversy over the Guilford County Open Space program, with partisans squabbling over whether mountain biking should be allowed on the property. As the year ends, the Guilford County Commission appears intent on deciding in favor of the mountain bikers.
The announcement in November that Ziggy’s, Winston-Salem’s storied music venue, will be closing came as little surprise to many, but still represents a seismic shift. Landlords Hank Perkins and Drew Gerstmyer made the decision not to renew the lease after February 2016, but longstanding tensions between the owners of the business had already frayed the venue to the breaking point. Expect partners Charles Womack and Brad McCauley to try to open a new venue in Winston-Salem in the new year, while Jay Stephens pursues a separate venture as a local concert promoter.
33. Business 40
Renovations to the Business 40 expressway through downtown Winston-Salem won’t begin until the fall of 2016, but the project came into sharp focus in 2015 with the unveiling of iconic bridge designs by the non-profit Creative Corridors Coalition, which contracted a trio of renowned architects — Donald McDonald, Larry Kirkland and Walter Hood. And over the summer, the city nailed down federal air-quality funds to pay for a multi-use path running parallel to the expressway that will link Baptist Hospital to the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
34. North Elm District
For the second year, a handful of High Point companies specializing in one-of-a-kind items marketed themselves as the North Elm District, or NED — part of an effort to distinguish themselves from the gargantuan showrooms owned by industry giant International Market Centers. The effort has only been partially successful: Some of the owners of Club Cu confessed that they were a little fuzzy on the concept and a pair of NED shoppers at the showroom said they had never heard of it during the fall market in October.
35. Ardmore Terrace Apartments
Winston-Salem’s growing challenge of retaining affordable housing took a dramatic turn when Councilman Dan Besse learned that his apartment at Ardmore Terrace near Baptist Hospital would be torn down to make way for high-end housing. Besse announced he would be moving so that he could fight the redevelopment plan without having a conflict of interest. At last check, he hadn’t made much headway in coming to a workable compromise with the owners of the properties. The plan stirred up anger and dismay about the fate of elderly residents who will be hard pressed to find new housing that is as affordable and convenient.
36. Reynolds Building
The 22-story Reynolds Building, a model for the Empire State Building in New York City, was purchased by Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group and PMC Property Group in 2014, but many Winston-Salem leaders got their first look inside the art deco monument known for its tobacco leaf-themed metalwork in January 2015. No surprise that the Winston-Salem City Council approved a historic landmark designation for the building this year.
37. Hanes-Lowrance Middle School
A newspaper exposé published by the Winston-Salem Journal in January suggesting that Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools had significantly downplayed the presence of toxic chemicals in the groundwater beneath Hanes-Lowrance Middle School set off panic among some parents. In less than three weeks, the school board would vote to close the school as parents pulled their children out. But later other parents expressed dismay about the closure of an urban school, and Lenny Siegel, a nationally renowned expert on vapor intrusion, told TCB he thought the district had overreacted.
38. First Baptist Church
A year after the collapse of the Kilby Hotel on Washington Street, the historic black commercial district of High Point, the city knocked down First Baptist Church, a focal point of civil rights organizing in the 1960s. The loss of the two historic buildings, which were next door to each other, dealt a blow to the street, where local entrepreneurs have focused revitalization efforts for decades. Meanwhile, talk of a new ballpark at the thoroughfare’s western end has kindled cautious optimism about the district’s future. An art gallery, coffeehouse, clothing store and mature folks nightclub all populate the street, but the most viable business remains soul-food standby Becky’s and Mary’s.
39. High Point library plaza
High Point may seem to have returned to stasis since the election of Mayor Bill Bencini and a new city council, but on at least one front the city is moving forward. City council voted in early May to create a plaza as a public gathering space in front of High Point Public Library, overcoming resistance from a conservative faction that wanted to save money and retain more parking.
40. Entertainment District
Developers Hank Perkins and Drew Gerstmyer significantly expanded on Winston-Salem’s Entertainment District, an actual zoning classification drawn around their real-estate holdings at the north end of Trade Street, with the opening of Camel City BBQ Factory. The partners also made a lateral move and a strategic retreat. The District Rooftop Bar & Grill, located on the developers’ anchor property, closed in late May, and the chain Famous Toastery opened in the space the next month. Meanwhile, the partners announced in November that they would not renew the lease for Ziggy’s. (See item No. 32.)