Liberty CDC will dissolve

Liberty CDC will dissolve
February 26
00:00 2015

Six months ago, James “Jim” Shaw announced that he would be resigning  as president and chairman of the Liberty Street Community Development  Corp.

In August, Shaw announced that his last day with the CDC, a private  nonprofit that works to revitalize the Liberty Street Corridor, would  be Oct. 31, 2014. The board was supposed to meet the following month to discuss finding his replacement.

Now, the 10-member board has decided to dispose of the assets and debts  before dissolving Liberty CDC altogether.

“We are not looking for an executive director and do not anticipate  doing so,” said Vice President and acting Chairman Stan Senft. “In my  opinion we are not doing enough work up there to justify hiring an  executive director who would spend the bulk of his or her time raising  money to pay their salary. It makes no sense.”

He said that he discussed all of the options with the nonprofits’  founders and that they agree makes no sense.

Board member Carrie Vickery said that the board is trying to do the  responsible thing.

“It would be easy to say ‘Ok, let’s just string the CDC along even  though it’s not pulling its weight or doing as much as we should be  for the sake of appearances’ and that’s not the route we are taking,”  she said. “We decided that the best thing for the community is to funnel those dollars elsewhere.”

She said that the nonprofit did attempt to look for other options  before making that decision.

“One of the thoughts we had originally was could we combine with  another CDC. That was a conversation we had through the Winston-Salem Foundation because they help the CDCs so much in the city,” Vickery  said. “Ultimately it wasn’t going to work for a multitude of reasons,  but it was one of the first things we did.”

In August 2014, Shaw told The Chronicle that some of the reasons he  was resigning was due to some of the issues and lack of support the  board has had from Winston-Salem City Council members; though he  declined to give details.

During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Liberty CDC was given $8,820 by the  city for operating expenses, which has been done for the past 10  years, in its annual budget of $140,000. The agency was given the same  amount in the 2014-2015 fiscal budget.

Senft said that a large amount of the organization’s funding went to  pay the executive director, and that was unacceptable.

“We will not make a request for additional monies,” Senft said. “You  have to justify how that money will be used. We could no longer  justify it.”

The money that was given provided salary support and rent for the  building that Liberty CDC is housed in. “It was only those two items. The salary is gone, we have no salary  requirements, so there’s no need,” he said.

Senft said that he is going to make it his business to finish one  project.

“There is a parcel of land that we are trying to buy and sell, so we  are pursuing that,” he said. “I want to complete that effort.”

He wouldn’t say where the land was but did say it was on Liberty Street.

However, City Council passed a resolution in May 2014 authorizing the  sale of city-owned property at the corner of Liberty Street and  Northwest Boulevard to Liberty CDC. The resolution allows the agency  to purchase the combined 0.83 acre property, currently valued at  $97,800, for a proposed $22,500, at least four times less than its  appraised value.

Council requested that the new building be of a similar aesthetic  design and quality as the building at the southeast corner of  Liberty and 14th streets. Failure to meet that stipulation would  cause the property to return to the city.

A source that wishes to remain anonymous confirmed that this was the  property that will be sold, at more than the price purchased, to help clear the agency’s debt.

The city purchased the property in 2005 as part of the Liberty Street  revitalization effort. According to records, the city aggressively  marketed the property for redevelopment, but was unsuccessful. In 2009,  the city partnered with Liberty CDC to find a developer.

While  Northwest Child Development Center showed interest it later decided on  another location, and Liberty CDC has continued its quest to look for  developers.

Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian H. Burke said that residents should not be  concerned about the dissolution of the CDC.

“I believe that the area will continue to move forward,” she said. “We will continue to look out for the area.”

Senft said that he hopes that the needs of the community can continue  to be met. Vickery said that she feels it’s the next best move for the  community.

“In lieu, of going through the search for different director or moving  the CDC in a different direction, in might be better for the community  to channel those resources into other areas, and by other areas I  mean other organizations,” she said.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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