Commentary: Our View: East End redevelopment

Commentary: Our View: East End redevelopment
April 24
12:44 2019

Recently much has been said about the happenings in the community that sits on the outskirts of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter known as the East End but when having these conversations it is important that we stick to the facts.

The area of land west of U.S. Highway 52 and the neighborhoods along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive have been the topic of conversations throughout the community since 2016 when Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore based design firm, was hired to create a “master plan” of the area. The purpose of the effort headed by the city of Winston-Salem and the S.G. Atkins Community Developlement Corporation (CDC) was to create a plan or guideline that future developers must follow when looking to invest in the East Winston community.

After several public meetings where residents had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the plans that call for; mixed-used neighborhoods, single family homes, open spaces, restaurants, and retail opportunities, in November the Winston-Salem City Council voted 8-0 to approve to plans. While it did cost money to hire Ayers Saint Gross it is important to note that there was no transfer of funds to the CDC with that vote, it only approved the plans for future development.

In other words, the City of Winston-Salem and the S.G. Atkins CDC hasn’t forced anyone to leave their homes. In fact, the CDC seems to be one of the few organizations in this community who has been willing to put their money where their mouth is, and really invest in East Winston. Since 2016 the CDC has built several single-family homes in the East and Southeast Wards, including two on Hardesty Lane, near Forsyth Seafood. The CDC has also helped dozens of minority businesses get off the ground, sponsored financial literacy workshops, and countless other events designed to uplift the community.

I don’t understand why we admire Nipsey Hussle and others for their ideals of investing in our communities, Buying Black, and supporting each other but yet at the same time bash the people and organizations who  have boots on the ground doing the work. While it is unfortunate that we are seeing buildings like the Garden Court Apartments being boarded up in the East Winston, we must remember that they are privately owned which makes it nearly impossible for an outside entity to get involved. And although the the master plan is in place to help spur future development until the property is up for sale or sold there’s nothing the City of Winston-Salem, S.G. Atkins CDC, or anyone else for that matter can do.

For the past fives years or so a handful of people  in our community have openly questioned the decisions made by our elected officials when it comes to spending money and investing in communities that need it most. While it is important that we hold our elected officials accountable it is equally important that we do our parts and bring ideas to the table as well. If you aren’t trying to help find solutions but have issues with those who are, then you are a part of the problem.

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