East Winston development plan gets mixed reviews

East Winston development plan gets mixed reviews
August 23
04:00 2018

After holding meetings with residents and stakeholders in East Winston and surrounding communities on several different occasions over the past two years, on Tuesday, Aug. 21 representatives from Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based design firm unveiled the East End Master Plan during a public gathering at First Calvary Baptist Church.

Since February 2016, Ayers Saint Gross has been holding public meetings to receive feedback on what the community would like to see the future of the East End look like. The design firm, which is responsible for Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and most of the redevelopment downtown, was brought on by city officials and the Simon Green Atkins Community Development Corporation (CDC) to take a serious look at the neighborhoods west of U.S. Highway 52 and along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

City Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who is a co-owner of The Chronicle, said the purpose of hiring Ayers Saint Gross is to set guidelines for future developers and investors in East Winston.

During the question and answer portion of the meeting, Montgomery received mixed emotions from the crowd. Several residents raised concerns about the East End Master Plan being a hoax and just another investment in Wake Forest and the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

Others said they liked what they saw for the future of the neighborhood. Delores Terry, a professor at Winston-Salem State University, said she like what she saw in the masterplan.

“I’m looking forward to the new restaurants and living spaces shown in the masterplan because right now there aren’t many places to eat,” continued Terry. “I also like the mixed used housing developments. I think that will have a major impact on the students at Winston-Salem State because right now students are forced to move off campus because they don’t have anywhere to stay. With these housing improvements, students will be able to stay in the neighborhood.”

Montgomery said while there has been a lot of redevelopment in downtown Winston-Salem over the past five years it is important that developers keep in mind the people who live and work in the neighborhood today.

“You’ve seen master plans done you’ve seen legacy plans done. The difference about this plan is it really is a plan that has action behind it,” said Montgomery during the master plan unveiling.

“… This is a plan to help guide development but its a plan to help guide development with the people who live and work in this community in mind on the part of how development happens. This is not just about the building of buildings but about what happens to the people who are also in those spaces as well.”

Some of the major projects listed in the master plan include a complete overhaul of the of the East Winston shopping center and the re-development of 5th Street into a mixed use area with a wide range of amenities including open community spaces, retail opportunities, restaurants,  and residential spaces.

Gintas Cinvinskas, an associate with Ayers Saint Gross said 5th Street would serve as a “main street”, to connect the East End to downtown.

“We think it’s an opportunity to redevelop 5th Street as more of a mixed use main street with a wide range of uses,” said Cinvinskas. “…That’s kind of one of the main ideas to access the zipper of the neighborhood that connects the north with the more residential south of the neighborhood.”

Other changes to the neighborhood include improving street safety, improved single-family housing in the southeast near Winston-Salem State University, redeveloped older apartment buildings into mixed income residential spaces and a series of community parks that will have trails that connect the neighbors in the East End and downtown.

After the plan was unveiled, Montgomery discussed the next steps in the implementation of the East End Master Plan. He said after taking into consideration the communities’ input during the meeting, Ayers Saint Gross will submit a document to the City/Council Planning Department. After the Planning Board reviews the document, if approved, City Council will have a chance to review the document and decide to adopt it as an actual community planning document.

Montgomery said without the planning document private property owners are free to build whatever they want, as long as it meets zoning regulations. He said, “this gives community members and neighbors an opportunity to have a voice in the process.” He also discussed certain language that will be included in the master plan that will ensure several things for residents including equitable opportunities with first consideration for community residents, increase in minority ownership of housing and businesses, and living-wage jobs to name a few.

He said, “There are also some guiding things that will also be apart of what’s adopted by city council. That additional language is what will really guide what needs to happen in this community to be intentional and conscious of the people who live, work, and play in the neighborhood.

“…At the end of the day you can have all the nice buildings you want but if it is not affordable for the people who currently live in the neighborhood today they don’t benefit from what’s happening.” 

According to Carol Davis director of the Simon Green Atkins CDC before the implementation process begins they will be organizing a steering committee to discuss the changes to the master plan and keep community members updated on progress.

For more information on the East End Master Plan, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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