Tell Me I’m Not Wrong About The ‘Band of Brothers’ on Main Street

I tend to romanticize things on Main Street…..I offer no apology. This tendency explains how I came to believe there is a Band of Brothers changing the scene in historic downtown. I love meeting and writing about individuals from various walks of life and backgrounds investing their time and resources. It is these people saving and repurposing Rocky Mount’s commercial architecture who provide a necessary economic driver.

When Troy White’s building came tumbling down in an 80 mile an hour wind, it felt like someone slapped me upside the head with some of the comments left on Concerned Citizens; a group of important voices who try to serve as watchmen on the tower. While reading, I thought, “Wait a minute, this isn’t right!” What happened to ’We few, we happy few, we band of brothers?’ -from a speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V.    

The King proclaims….But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother…

As fate would have it, Troy and the team arrived an hour before the storm hit. They were there to assess the next steps in bringing the building back to life. Engineers were involved with the necessary procedures to save the building. Then the wind took the structure into its own hands. Troy White, has already demonstrated how vested he is in the mission of saving downtown’s future. He could have used some support that at least said, “Your loss is our loss.” For the record, Mr. White paid for any and all clean up that was necessary. There are now design plans in the works for a new building, which will be sensitive to the continuity of the historic downtown setting. 

When we lost this building, I was certain of the downtown Band of Brothers. They would offer help. Maybe drop water bottles off because of the heat. They would bring encouragement with their ‘one for all’ attitude, perhaps bring a push broom or shovel? With little, if any, sign of these Brothers, coupled with the comments that followed, we are damn lucky Troy White didn’t give us the famous Duke basketball gesture when opponents foul out – – SEE YA 

This ‘all for one’ attitude is imperative. Everyone who is involved in creating the new emerging downtown scene deserves respect and shall have a turn leading the Main Street Parade. If you doubt the necessity of this investment money, think about the majority vote on the City Council who have served 20 years or more. Under their watch, statistics show a decline in homeownership, a loss of jobs, higher crime, and commercial and residential housing boarded up and deteriorating.  

The City Council Chambers

We need individuals who are vested in the historic collection of architecture on Main Street, and beyond. The real issue behind the smokescreen-cry of racism, is the “My Will Be Done” agenda. Anyone that does not support this agenda will have to endure intimidation, the threat of losing a job, actually losing that job, or threats concerning their businesses. People are hired and fired according to their willingness to serve this agenda. It is no longer a carefully held secret. The names of the usual suspects are spoken every day. Should you need further evidence of what this so-called leadership has accomplished, go, and look at the shameful decline in the neighborhoods. It is obvious that nothing comes from nothing. It is new investment that is saving Main Street.  

It may be a Chicago thing, but are you familiar with the expression, no tickey, no washey? There is an economic imperative at stake here. Vested individuals are essential. Those profiting from the “My Will” agenda have tried to sabotage the word investor. “These ‘carpetbaggers’ are taking away what belongs to us.” Don’t believe that for a moment. Instead, believe that all those vested in building a future for Rocky Mount deserve our thanks and prayers. 

The “My will Agenda” is the real issue. The plan we already have, bought and paid for, doesn’t support “The Agenda,” so we need a new one. The Main Street program is dismissed for the same reason. Think about The Carlton House that was sabotaged for the sake of a new hotel and parking garage. Does anyone doubt that the usual people will line their pockets with that deal?  The Band of Brothers faces this agenda every day. If these people would accept the notion that alone we can do so little, but together, accomplish so much. it is a reality that should be embraced. We need black and white-owned businesses scattered throughout the historic downtown. Together, the obstacles that the agenda mandates can be addressed.

Ben Braddock at Station Square- A Main Street Campion

Terrick Pitman and Jesse Gerstl – Speak Out – About A PLAN For Historic Downtown Rocky Mount

Terrick Pittman Remains An Advocate For Ward 1 and the Historic Downtown of Rocky Mount

FYI: Posting Mr. Pitman’s Post From Social Media

I’m glad members of the CCRP are deciding to speak out instead of taking the blame. If you take a look at the Ratio plan, which as a member of the CCRP I participated in. You will see on the front page that it was a joint effort between the City Council and the CCRP. In August of 2016 the City Council approved the request of the City Manager at the time to hire Ratio to create a Downtown plan. In November of 2017 the Council makes a motion to adopt the plan. In February of 2018 it was set for a vote that never happened due to concerns of gentrification. We touched on gentrification while crafting the plan. The Council participated heavily. Once we added changes to the plan, it then went to the Council to look over and approve those changes. We added neighborhoods they were concerned about. We expanded areas to combat gentrification they were concerned about. We held community meetings to gather input. In the end the final draft was set. Since the plan was not approved, we lost our Main Street Accreditation. Simple. We won accreditation initially because they could see we had a plan in place. To say Accreditation and Affiliation is the same thing is just plain ignorant. We wore that accreditation like a badge of honor based on the hard work we all put in. Since the plan was never approved by the Council. This has lead to the creation of a small group of individuals, friends of the Council, who have set out as rogue agents to create their own plan. The CCRP has been powerless and kept out of the loop because of a lack of meetings due to the COVID19 pandemic. They pounced on this opportunity. So to blame the CCRP for the lack of an overall plan for downtown amounts to a LIE so certain individuals on the Council can advance their own personal agendas, which includes lining their pockets, without input from the CCRP. It’s all about the money baby!#LetsGrowTogether

https://www.rockymounttelegram.com/…/article_92cc5a28-203f-…

A real estate investor told the Telegram he believes the issue regarding the revitalization of the heart of the city is not whether Rocky Mount’s Main Street program is accredited but rather the absence of a plan.

“And there has been a lack of a plan and a lack of a vision for downtown Rocky Mount for the two years that I’ve been an investor and been spending time in Rocky Mount,” Jesse Gerstl said on Friday. “I encourage the city to pass any vision or plan and set out a road map for how we can achieve that plan so that we can all work toward that goal.”

Specifically, Gerstl said he believes the lack of a definitive vision and plan, and codes and guidelines to support that vision and plan, is a hindrance to developers to know what they should be working toward.

Gerstl was commenting in the context of the state Commerce Department on July 2 saying 48 municipalities in North Carolina for 2020 have accredited Main Street programs — that is, those in the highest tier.

Rocky Mount’s Main Street program lost accreditation status after 2017 and remains an affiliate. What has been preventing Rocky Mount’s Main Street program from regaining accreditation has been the lack of a work plan, which provides details for a Main Street program’s activities.

Main Street programs seek to help transform older and historic commercial districts into vibrant areas with thriving economies.

During the City Council’s July 13 work session, City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said she believes there is no fundamental proof of there being a difference between an accredited Main Street revitalization program and an affiliate.

However, Small-Toney said she favored restarting the process of a preparing a master plan for revitalizing downtown Rocky Mount.

There is an extensive draft document, completed in 2017 and known locally as the Ratio plan, which provides a long list of recommendations and ways to improve Rocky Mount’s once-proud central business district. The Ratio plan apparently never was approved by the municipal government.

Gerstl told the Telegram on Friday that regardless of whether people liked or disliked the Ratio plan, the draft document at least set out the pathway toward a vision “and something we could work toward.”

Gerstl said he believes having an accredited Main Street program would be great.

“But if the city doesn’t feel that that’s important, that’s fine,” Gerstl said. “But a plan is important.”

During the July 13 council work session, Councilman Andre Knight asked City Business Development Manager Kevin Harris who determines the work plan for Rocky Mount’s Main Street program.

Harris said the Central City Revitalization Panel.

The CCRP administers a program utilizing financial incentives to encourage improvements and preservation within the central city part of Rocky Mount.

Gertsl, who is a member of the CCRP, told the Telegram the CCRP is a volunteer citizen group that needs to be guided and managed by municipal staff.

Gerstl also said the municipality has a community and business development department whose job includes working with and getting input from the CCRP to help develop a master plan or any plan for the continued growth of downtown Rocky Mount.

Gerstl also pointed out the CCRP has not met in months. Small-Toney, in March amid the spread of the coronavirus, announced the postponement of the meetings of boards and commissions.

Gerstl, prior to the effect of COVID-19, advocated having teleconferencing so CCRP members could participate remotely in meetings and ensure there were enough members to be able to vote on items of business.

Gerstl told the Telegram on Friday that “everyone everywhere is having meetings virtually.”

Gerstl said, “I truly don’t understand why we continue to just choose not to do our work.”

In the meantime, Gerstl and his team of partners are continuing to seek a purchaser for the former Carleton House, which is in the 200 block of North Church Street and once was a motor lodge and restaurant.

The Telegram on Sept. 29 reported Gerstl and his team planned to renovate the site before deciding not to proceed with the project because he and his team have many other projects going on downtown.

Gerstl for that story also said that the former Carleton House was quite a large project and added that he believed the timing was not right.

Gerstl told the Telegram on Friday, “We’ve had a little bit of interest, but nothing concrete yet. We’re hoping to sell it as soon as possible.

“Obviously it’s not the greatest time to be selling a hotel due to the coronavirus and the current economic situation, but we’re hopeful that it will sell soon,” Gerstl said.

The list sale price for the property is $1.55 million. The property is listed online with the Mumford Co., which specializes in advising hotels, and with the Chambliss & Rabil real estate company.

Interestingly, the Ratio plan called for the former Carleton House site, once redeveloped, to be part of what would have been an event and entertainment district downtown.

Investor, Jesse Gerstl – I’ve Seen the Super Man Cape He Wears

May Gorham Building on the corner of Tarboro and Washington St. A Jesse Gerstl project

I often leave comments on the Concerned Citizens Facebook Page. Like all of us, the page has its good days and bad. Some comments have more clarity than others. I have no trouble making room for diverse opinions as long as they are well stated, no swearing or name-calling. I will admit that my reaction can vary if that line is crossed in this public forum. You could find me talking to myself, saying, “Give me a break!” or “What???” or in plain speak — “Man, you gotta get a life.”

I have an on-going struggle with what it means to be complicit. I’ll read something, weigh its merits, consider my past experience with the writer, and then decide if saying nothing makes me complicit in the matter.  Sometimes it is easy, Stepheny, let it go.  When I determine, this cannot stand, I write.

“What about the May Graham buildings or the Carlton House, or any other structures Jesse Gerstl and gang owns. It was great at first thinking he was going to fix something which turned into 2 years of the buildings getting “worser” as you call it. Jesse  Gerstl was allowed to buy many of these properties knowing he had no money or intention to fix any of it up. The only thing we got out of the hoarding of money in our downtown was a coffee house; had it not been for the owner of the coffee house we wouldn’t have that.”

In this instance, I know, admire and applaud, Jesse Gerstl.  This post is written in appreciation of him and is also my reply to the Concerned Citizen who was good enough to weigh in with the above comment. This blog post is neither written in anger nor denying others their opinions. I, however, have personal knowledge that Jesse wears a Superman’s cloak hidden under a tee shirt, part of his regular attire.

May Gorham Building is an up-coming        Jesse Gerstl project.

Larema Coffee Shop is located on the opposite corner in the Five Points area. A success story of what the revitalization of our historic downtown district will look like. A building Jesse bought and renovated with his heart for preservation and his ability to see things not as they are but could be. I can’t think of a greater place for the community to enjoy. A repurposed First National Bank Building that now welcomes everyone in a setting that only Main Street can provide. People love it, and why not with as fine a young man as you could hope for, Kevin McLaughlin presiding over his dream.

The entrance into the Larema world. Here we have an example of honoring the past while building a future.

This photograph is a magic moment of seeing the future through old windows.

This gathering came to listen to a Preservation Rocky Mount program. Peter Varney shared his knowledge of the Five Points Area.

MACHAVEN, restored, and saved. In acquiring this property, Jesse stopped everything to save this grand architectural gem. Click Here to read an earlier post that includes photographs.  The crown jewel, as they say, in the Villa Place Historic District, Machaven is surrounded by an outstanding inventory of residential homes, a walkable distance to downtown. This is a gift to the community that holds many memories of this historic home. I have lost count of how many shotguns and other small homes he has undertaken.

The rendering of the new interior courtyard.

Saved for last, The Carlton House. I have never heard Jesse moan or groan over the obstacles placed before him by our City Government as it pertains to the Carlton House or any project. That’s because he is a good man. I fail the test in this category. I am appalled at the loss of this opportunity and deliberate dragging of feet to thwart him in these efforts. “Oh, ghee that $14,000 grant money must have gotten lost on my desk.”   I am fortunate to have seen the plans for this significant asset while touring the property with Jesse.

What we have here is a haphazard, arbitrary, unprioritized approach to planning. The latest scheme rather than recognizing a pivotal piece in the Main Street puzzle. We now know why the Carleton House was sabotaged.  Presented as a  fait ac·com·pli., we have a single-source bid again as the results of a trip to Florida by the City Manager. The rationale, we’ve never had a hotel in Edgecombe County. Oh, and a zillion-dollar parking garage while we are at it. There are no substantial statistics to prove need, probable success, necessary occupancy to even hope to make a go of it.  And, of course, how are the usual suspects going to make any money out of The Carlton House.  You wonder how many investors have been run off because there is no attempt to work towards a win-win outcome for the city and the investor. Jesse and others like him, deserve our gratitude and support for the restoration and repurposing of Main Street. We have councilmen serving beyond their usefulness who have done little to protect Main Street except where it suits them and their cronies. It is shameful.

Taking The Arm of a Gentleman on Main Street

I want to tell you one of my many Main Street experiences. It happened this past Spring with a trip downtown to photograph some commercial buildings that Mr. Knight owns. (There is one in particular that I love and keep my eye on.) I first took these photos on  July 17, 2018. Today, July 11, 2020, the building looks the same only ‘worser.’

I got out of my car that day in a state of mourning over the further deterioration of this structure.  I took new photographs to prove that if Mr. Knight truly meant the things he waxes poetic about, he would have set an example, and at least stabilized this building to save it. He would act as a responsible property owner who cares about the historical significance of our facades that make a continuous blend of excellent commercial architecture.

I’ll get no satisfaction in this matter until more of the community gets proactive and sees Main Street for what it is: a valuable asset to be protected, an economic driver, a place people believe in, our investing in, and are the wind under the sails of the revitalization that is going on. It makes no sense to me that once segregated in the Douglas Block area, there is now this call for a black business area that segregates blacks all over again. If the point to this is to segregate white people, it is a miscalculation to think I, for one, would stop getting out of my car and talking to black people on the corner or in the middle of the street. Most whites are color blind as our most blacks. It’s only those who refuse to live their lives as free men and women and realize that today it is one’s heart that defines a person, not the color of their skin.

It must be true what they say, one who is abused can become an abuser. Those who were segregated, now want to be segregated again. A successful revitalization has no color attached to it but supports and encourages come one, come all, to honor the past, and help build a future. Mr. Knight, who owns buildings on Tarboro St. and Washington St. has my vote of no confidence because he protected his cronies, letting them ignore ordinances, and stood by while their buildings continue to rot and cave in.  Those who could’a/should’a make a difference, didn’t.

The reason I tell this story: There were three men standing in front of a nearby building that same day. One of them, by himself, has renovated and repurposed a great looking barbershop on the 2nd floor of a Main Street building. I walked over to join them and we talked. Nice people who then led me to see the bar on the corner and further.

When I got ready to leave, the older of the three men said he would walk me back to my car. I took his arm. Upon reflection, I realize I do this as a sign of my affection and acknowledgment that I am in the company of a gentleman. I am grateful to these three men who included me, were willing to tour a bit with me, and showed no sign that because I am white, it made a difference to them. They being black certainly made no difference to me. We need to get a grip, as the younger folks say, and welcome any and all who believe in Main Street where ever they find a building in the downtown area.  We better start looking through a better lens to size people up. I repeat, today it is people’s hearts, not the color of their skin that matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden ll on Tarboro Street at Five Points Celebrating A Small Downtown Business

I know everyone’s mind is on the results of the state audit. The impact of this opening  salvo produced nary a resignation, no one took responsibility for anything, and the piece de resistance, refutable evidence was ‘racially motivated and fueled by white supremacists.’ One of my favorite quotations is, ”We have investigated ourselves and found ourselves to be innocent.” As incredulous as I am over last Tuesday’s special meeting, we have to remember that we have real people, with great financial investment in their small businesses downtown. They  believe in Rocky Mount and its future. They are the future! We can let the shame of all this define who we are or find a way to pick ourselves up and rally around the possibilities Main Street is about. The Secret Garden II  is the perfect example of  a great asset that needs our support and appreciation.

“The walls behind the counter had deep floor-to-ceiling shelves for vases and jam jars and scented candles, and there was an old wrought-iron revolving stand for cards. But most of the space in the long, narrow shop was taken up with flowers and plants. Today there were fifty-two kinds of cut blooms, from the tiny cobalt-blue violets that were smaller than Lara’s  (Javelin Guilford) little fingernail to a purple-and-green-frilled brassica that was bigger than her head. The flowers were set out in gleaming metal buckets and containers of every shape and size. They were lined up on the floor three deep and stacked on the tall three-tier stand in the middle of the shop.

The plants, huge leafy ferns, and tiny fleshy succulents, lemon trees and jasmine bushes and freckled orchids, were displayed on floating shelves that were built at various heights all the way up to the ceiling. Lara (Javelin) had spent weeks getting the lighting right. There were a few soft spotlights above the flower displays, and an antique crystal chandelier hung low above the counter. There were strings of fairy lights and dozens of jewel-colored tea lights and tall, slender lanterns dotted between the buckets. When they were lit, the cast star and crescent moon shapes along the walls, and the shop resembled the courtyard of a Moroccan riad- a tiny walled garden right in the middle of the city.”  ― Ella Griffin, The Flower Arrangement

I have borrowed this excerpt from Ella Griffin’s novel. I  added Jay’s name in parathesis. The Secret Garden is a magical place like the one described above. A place where floral creativity abounds, friendships develop, people arrive at happy and sad times, and those in between. You always feel welcomed. I love the Five Points location at 115 Tarboro St. There is parking on the street or behind the building. I recommend parking around back where you can see a new world being created. There are other businesses in the area. Check them ALL out!

I  INVITE YOU TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG – KEEP ME COMPANY ON MAIN STREET

a-lt-men-taire – The French Bakery on Main Street – IMAGINE!

In the Chicago area, you will find bakeries throughout this city of neighborhoods…Greek Town, Little Italy…In Evanston where I grew up, there was a bakery on Davis Street where my mother took me. Inside the door of the bakery, delectable smells filled the shop. The glass front display cases were filled with trays of impossible choices. I usually asked for a chocolate eclair, which I would then eat on the walk home. Two blocks west to Asbury Avene, turn right, and two blocks North home. We would pass the bowling alley, the drug store, the amazing Federal Post office with its memorable architecture. All of us can still walk blindfolded these walks of our childhoods.  Main Street Rocky Mount is going to have the fragrances of a bakery escaping onto the street each time the door opens to Altmentaire. (AH-LEE-MON-TAIR) A French word for food and nourishment that describes their traditional bread and bake goods made of 100% real ingredients, many locally sourced. Perhaps you already know of this bakery at 600 Trade Street in Tarboro, NC  owned by Steve and Franca Gilbert. They are coming to Main Street Rocky Mount.

 Here we are looking at 132 SW Main. This commercial building is 6000 square feet. 3000 feet for the bakery…kitchen sales area, etc. AND a 3000 loft apartment above where the Gilberts are going to live. Having just seen two lofts this size in New Bern at the Main Street Conference, I was beside myself because I wasn’t in Elizabeth City or Wilson or New Bern but on MAIN STREET ROCKY MOUNT. (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NEW BERN LOFTS.)

There is much more to this space with bedrooms, bathrooms, closet space. 3000!!! feet. This is but a glimpse of what is happening in the downtown historic district. The restoration and repurposing of this building is part of the new scene emerging around the businesses that have held down the fort waiting for support, vision, a will of the leadership. Welcome Steve & Franca Gilbert, we can’t wait for you to get here.

The living room space that looks out on Main Street and raised kitchen

Climbing the steps past the beautiful brick wall to the 2nd level

The three windows looking out on Main Street

 

The View from the second level

 

URGENT ATTENTION – PLAN B – Low Income Housing Development Partners – Woda Cooper

Columbus, OH. The 54 unit affordable seniors community was named Overall and Green winner for Affordable Housing Finance Readers Choice.

Woda Cooper has experienced developers, general contractors, and property managers specializing in design, construction, and management. If you google them you will find an impressive mass of work. Their online presence leaves a favorable impression of the company. Here is an example of one of the low-income housing projects they use on their Facebook header.

The City Council – #Item 14 – saw the approval of “development partner”, Woda Cooper Companies, for the construction of the “workforce housing” (low income) units on Tarboro Street, across from Edgecombe Community College. I have written, most recently on Concerned Citizens, how opposed I am to the location, not the type housing. Now PLAN B is another story. I found two projects that Woda Cooper has designed that I would hold the ladder for, bring donuts and sing.  This company REPURPOSES OLD BUILDINGS!!!  for low-income housing. What a great idea. We have a few of those. PLAN B accomplishes the same outcome for housing but keeps the integrity of our historic facades intact, saves a building, adds seamlessly to the historic downtown. PLAN B is a better solution.

 Then and now. The top photo on the right was taken in 1932 when the now Cavalier Greene was a thriving high school in Corunna, MI. The classic 1908 school building was adapted a few years ago to become a 40-unit affordable community. With the addition of a new 22,000 sq. ft. section designed to mesh well with the original architecture, Cavalier Greene offers one- and two-bedroom affordable apartments for seniors and workforce families/singles who earn 30 to 60% of area median income (AMI).

 

In order to create affordable places to live in downtown Cleveland,  Woda Cooper bought
the old Stuyvesant Motor Company Building at 1937 Prospect Avenue and built the Prospect Yard apartments. The building was built in 1917 and a stone in the brick at the top of the building still reads “Stuyvesant” after more than a century.  The building has 42 apartments, with rent starting at $330 and topping out at $1,247 depending on how large the apartment is.

When Woda Cooper first bought the building, this is what the inside looked like after years of neglect.

‘The project used many layers of historic tax credits. Woda Cooper went the extra step to also get affordable housing credits,  making it possible to keep rents low. The goal: to house people with working-class incomes and people needed in the downtown service industry. I don’t know if PLAN B will line pockets as easily as the cluster housing but I sure as heck know that to ‘restore and repurpose’ is a better answer for this project the wizards behind the curtain insist we must have. It becomes a piece of the Rocky Mount puzzle that fits. Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

 

If Responsible City Leadership Welcomes Private Development – You’ve Got A Hit Song On Your Hands

Above The Store in New Bern, NC

Where responsible city leadership welcomes private development, the results have been fantastic. By working together for ‘a yes solution’ in their dealings with private investors, downtowns are saved and economic growth is stimulated.  Elizabeth City and New Bern are examples of this kind of success; revitalization at its finest. Here in Rocky Mount, it cannot be denied that the Wizards behind the curtain can still foot-drag, dilly-dallying, and make things difficult in an attempt to retain control over the downtown outcomes. A larger story has happened in spite of this.   Determined locals and an influx of creative, hard-working people will not be deterred. They are saving our commercial architecture one building at a time by repurposing them. Living Above The Store is under construction, a vital piece of the revitalization puzzle.

We’ve learned a great deal since the 1980 Urban Renewal period when terrible mistakes were made. Enough time has gone by to access what worked and didn’t. Tearing down paradise and putting up a parking lot was not the answer. A big piece of the answer is preserving a strong sense of place that is vital to the health and prosperity of a downtown. The Rocky Mount story creates a particular richness that is attracting new people while honoring the place others have always called home. 

“Research has proven that a successful revitalization must include a pedestrian-friendly, connected location with a lively environment that encourages visitors to linger and support the local economy.” Living Above The Store broadens the success of a downtown community. “A downtown with a critical mass encourages a connection to the local community because they don’t leave the area at the end of the day. They shop local, eat local and drink local—inherently helping spur the economy and foster the hip-factor of the district.”  Living downtown: a mix of people who can live nearer their jobs, are singles, married,  retired people who are sizing down and want to walk to nearby amenities. The emerging scene on Main Street Rocky Mount will include Living Above The Store. Way Cool, friends, Way Cool!

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”
– Christopher Reeve  

In 2017, Scott Baldwin wrote an article called, Live-Work Units: Reasons to Include Them in Your Next Project. (Fisher, Ind.) I have quoted from his article in support of this post.   

Do You Want to Buy An $18 Million Parking Garage Available On The Rocky Mount Monopoly Board?

For the fun of it, let’s play Monopoly!  On the Board, one of the things we can buy is a parking deck. A deck we are told that will be great for Edgecombe County. Consider a few of the following things before plunking your Monopoly money down.

  1. This parking deck has 700 spaces.
  2. You currently have 328 spaces being used for the Event Center.
  3. The hotel wants 140 spaces.
  4. Building the parking deck On Top of our existing  328 spaces
  5. Net gain 232 spaces.
  6. Parking deck total cost (including the acquisition of land, but not including consultants) $18,350.000
  7. Cost per new space, $79.095

I highly recommend that instead, you consider building surface parking across the street from the Event Center. I don’t see how, but let’s say that costs $1 million. This hotel, parking, mixed-use project is being touted as great for Edgecombe County. Makes you wonder how many times residents of Wards 1,2,3, 4 will stay in this proposed hotel? If they park in the parking deck, they will have to pay to do so.

It is a false premise to say that building the hotel is an economic driver. A hotel does not bring restaurants and shops and living above the store apartments. It is having these things in place that result in needing a place to stay. If this project is really good for Wards 1-4,  spend the $1 million on surface parking and invest the rest of that $18,350.000 in these Wards that have the most distressed housing, missing sidewalks, potholes in the streets, unkempt parks, crime, and slum landlords.

The party line is that Nash County is responsible for these poor conditions, and the plight of these Wards. This is an unexamined idea! You have to ask why Wards 1-4 look the way they do if the majority vote on the council holds the power?  This majority, had they wanted to, could have directed city resources into these Wards, having the best sidewalks, tree-lined streets, liveable and safe housing, the best parks in the city rather than the worst. This is within the purview of the City of Rocky Mount. Wards 1-4 are the Gateway of Rocky Mount and should be seeing growth. Will the October 8, 2019 election finally be the end date when the citizens of Rocky Mount are no longer willing to be disrespected by the leaders who say they want to help them?

September 19 -6:30, at a Meet The Candidate Event held at ECC, the contested Council Seat in Ward 1, held by Councilman Knight since 2003,  spent his time defending himself and the current Council for all the great strides they have made. There is little correlation, however, between those words and tangible results in Ward 1. The winner for the evening was Tarrick Pittman, who is running for Mr. Knight’s seat. A retiring, quiet, gentle young man, he stood head and shoulders taller than all the rest with his articulate, well planned, plans for Ward 1 and his work for the entire city. An impressive resume, his technological expertise informs his approach. He is a bright, new hope, and Monopoly player for Rocky Mount. Next time we’ll talk about buying a Monopoly Utility Company with the money we saved by providing surface parking. A parking deck might be nice to have, but repair and replacing infrastructure is a must-have. 

The City Government Shifts Attention in Word and Deed – Downtown Incentives and Ordiances

Through concrete, a flower emerges with Persistence

“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”
Marv Levy

 

Jean Arthur as Peter Pan

I’ve told you the story of being taken to the Shubert Theater in Chicago as a little girl to see the stage play, Peter Pan. In one scene Tinker Bell’s light is fading and Jean Arthur, who plays Peter, steps to the edge of the stage pleading with the audience to save Tinker.- If you believe, clap your hands. As only a little girl can when captured in the moment, I clapped as hard as I could. I have asked you to do the same when believing in the revitalization of Rocky Mount. I will admit there are times my own light dims when I face the obstacles to grace in saving Main Street! Living life as a Pollyanna does give me the energy to pick myself up and BELIEVE again.

When it comes to news about changes for downtown, it is difficult for people to shed their skepticism. They have been let down, disappointed, darn right mad, felt powerless and paying taxes on things they oppose. The state of our political insanity today has brought us to the fact that if President Donald Trump cured cancer there would be a human cry that he ignored Alzheimer’s. We must be careful not to have the same kind of unexamined response to the city’s announced shift in word and deed towards downtown. I attended the workshop where Kevin Harris, City Business Development Director, presented this material written up in the Telegram on May 26th. If you missed this fine reporting, here is the link – The City focuses on Downtown

I refuse to dismiss out of hand this declaration of renewed interest and help for Main Street because of past disappointments. It is exactly what I and others have been asking, cajoling, shaming, pleading and praying for. A return to enforcing ordinances evenly across the board, streamlining paperwork, turning in itemized bills before payment of grant money. The reinstatement of the ‘demolition by neglect ordinance’ is key here. The city has put some teeth behind this declaration of intent with three outstanding hires to steward this huge effort to pick up where the Varney years left off, support these wonderful investors and new businesses, dreamers and economic drivers that are the new Rocky Mount. Remember, the journey is an inch at a time, and we must support the inch that is being offered and BELIEVE.