City Council approves center, businesses on Patterson; Business 40 path also closer to reality

City Council approves center, businesses on Patterson; Business 40 path also closer to reality
April 07
00:00 2016



A new community center and businesses will be coming to Patterson Avenue after the Winston-Salem City Council approved a rezoning request at its Monday, April 4 meeting.

The former 7-Up bottling company building at 1800 N. Patterson Ave. was rezoned to allow its current owner, Mercy Rahma, Inc., to renovate it for a variety of uses. Azzat Amer, president of Mercy-Rahma, said he already had tenants lined up for the convenience store, garage, warehouse, barbershop and salon that will be housed in the 18,000 square foot building. There will also be a community center, which Amer said is his way of giving back to the community.

Lamaya Williams, and her husband Ira, are consulting with Amer on the community center. She said though it’s still early in the planning stages, ideally it’ll be a place for kids to come after school with amenities like a library and computer lab. She said she spent much of her childhood at a community center and hopes to be able to give the same experience to youth today.

“It was really a way for kids to be in one place, in a safe space, do homework or whatever and have fun with the neighborhood kids without any fear of outside influence or doing anything bad and that’s the vision I have for this,” said Lamaya Williams, who has many years of non-profit experience, including her current position as director of operations at the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

The building will be renovated with $475,000 in Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas (RUCA) grants from the city, which Amer matched with his own funds for the$950,000 renovation. Amer said he expects to begin construction next week and have it completed within four months.

Approval for rezoning was delayed because local residents weren’t aware of what was going in the building. After meeting with the North Winston Neighborhood Association, the terms of the loan were altered to include no sale of alcohol on the property for 10 years and that there will be no nightclub or Sweepstakes parlor there.

The City Council also approved an attempt to secure a $5 million federal grant, which the city will match, for a $10 million multi-use bike and pedestrian path that will run along Business 40, acting as a connector around the downtown area. If the City secures the money, the path would be built during the Business 40 renovations. City Council Member Robert Clark was the only dissenting vote. After the meeting, he said he didn’t feel like the path was an efficient use of funds, since the same money could build four miles of sidewalk.

The city council approved unanimously that adult establishments can only be open from 7 a.m.-2:30 a.m. in an attempt to curb late night crime. Winston-Salem Chamber President Gayle Anderson said she heard no opposition to it from businesses and Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership President Jason Thiel said his organization supported it.

“I know this is a citywide issue, but we’ve had a microcosm of issues that have been well reported in the press, I’ll leave it at that, after 2 a.m. in the downtown area, so we strongly support this,” said Thiel.

There’s been several late night criminal incidents that have grabbed headlines at a downtown strip club, Lollipops, which the city is currently trying to close with a nuisance abatement suit. City Council Member James Taylor said the ordinance is not aimed at any one business, but is aimed at issues around the city.

Previously there was no restriction on the hours of such businesses. ABC permits restrict businesses from serving alcohol outside of the hours of 7 a.m.-2 a.m. and gives until 2:30 a.m. for patrons to consume alcohol and for it be cleared from the serving area.

The City Council also approved modifications to its 2007 incentive agreement with Wake Forest University Health Sciences to construct three new facilities in the Innovation Quarter. The agreement for the nearly $5 million in assistance stated that the money would be paid back if there wasn’t 100,000 square feet of office, lab and light industrial space built in ten years, which the project hasn’t done. The new agreement gives the project an extra ten years and now requires 150,000 square feet to be constructed with requirements for affordable/workforce housing.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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