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Old 01-27-2013, 09:52 AM
3,323 posts, read 5,188,387 times
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Originally Posted by Richard Martin View Post
So you're talking about trying to sync a whole lot of roads? Good luck getting people to drive the speed limit at any time of day. What is NCC and where is it?
North Campus Crossing. Where Greenville Blvd, US264 and Pactolus Highway are.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:15 AM
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A article in the TDR, about a possible solution for revamping the fire tower on Fire Tower Road. It would be awesome if this vision becomes a reality. Finally, people are getting the idea of preservation around here... instead of just tearing all the history away:

Architectural renderings were also shown:

Architects, by design, are problem solvers.
So when Jeff Brooks of East Coast Design Studio noticed the dilapidated fire tower on Fire Tower Road and started to learn about its history, he began to formulate an artistic solution.
A lot of work has gone into Fire Tower Road in the past few years.
The road, which recently was widened, has become a major Greenville passageway and a popular route to the rapidly growing Winterville area.
Along that road, which is a testament to the growth of the area itself, stands its namesake, a metal tower nearly 120 feet tall that has seen better days.
The fire tower originally was used for visibility in the event of a fire to give advance warning to the community. Though the date it was built is unknown, there is evidence of it being used as early as 1954, according to local historian Roger Kammerer. Back then it stood at what is now the intersection of Greenville Boulevard and Evans Street. It was moved to its current location in 1966. It has since stopped being used and because of modern technology, it no longer serves a purpose.
It stands on a large parcel of open land, and now is wrapped at the bottom by an orange plastic fence. A metal staircase zig-zags to the top. At some point, someone decided to climb up the tower and bash in some of the windows.
But despite its condition and the fact that it is a potential safety hazard to anyone brazen enough to step over the plastic fence and climb it, the tower remains a part of Greenville’s history, which is why it has not been torn down.
Harvey Lewis of E.R. Lewis Construction Co. acquired the tower and the land it sits on from the state several years ago. He and Greenville businessman Parker Overton own the surrounding land.
Because of its prime location the land would be worth more without the fire tower on it, but demolishing a piece of Greenville history is not something Lewis and Overton are willing to do.
“With the fire tower gone, the land would be worth more, but Harvey doesn’t want to do that, and neither do I,” Overton said. “We want to keep the fire tower. But the fire tower is old. It does need work on it in the future.”
So when Brooks approached the pair with his architectural renderings, he presented a possible solution to the conundrum.
Brooks’ suggestion entails remodeling the fire tower with colored glass or plexiglass, transforming it into a piece of art and using the land it sits on as a public area. The idea was inspired by artist Tom Fruin, who similarly transformed a water tower in New York City.
“The colored glass could be purple and gold for ECU, blue and white for Pitt Community College, the high schools could be involved,” Brooks said. “It gives a way of the public being reflected in this piece of art. We could do memory bricks leading up to it. We could have the benches underneath it engraved.”
The main barrier of the project is money. Brooks estimates it could cost anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 to complete the project, assuming some of the materials are able to be salvaged and the tower does not have to be moved farther away from the street (the city would have to make an exception to laws requiring a ‘new’ structure to be 50 feet away from the road).
Brooks is not looking for public funding. The hope is that community members and local businesses will want to get involved, through both donations and ideas, so that they feel a sense of ownership of the tower.
Overton said he and Lewis would contribute to fundraising efforts but community involvement also would be important.
“It’s kind of like building a church,” he said. “If you had one person go in and build the whole church, the rest of the members would never feel like it’s theirs.
“It’s something that needs to be done by everybody, and the fire tower is a project that could service the city. It could represent the university, it could represent the community college, the high schools.”
Overton just had returned from Scottsdale, Ariz., and had been impressed with the Taleisin West Promenade Spire, a 125-foot spire designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, when Brooks showed him the plans.
“It’s a landmark,” he said of the spire. “This fire tower over here is a landmark here in Greenville. That’s what we’re trying to do is to put landmarks in Greenville; rather than tear something down, to save it for the future.”
“We don’t want to get rid of it, but we want to find a new purpose for it,” Brooks said, “to still treat it like it’s important and it’s a landmark, but to give it a new purpose which would be public art. It would be rethinking its meaning.
“Before, it was a symbol for a warning sign. Now it’s a welcoming symbol, like a lantern, for the fire tower district. By creating sort of a new identity for it, not only do we satisfy the purists, but we also give the new people who come to the city a way to identify the area. If we can come together as a community to save a community landmark, then the community wins. That’s all I’m trying to do is start a positive conversation.”
To contribute or learn more about the project contact Jeff Brooks at jeff@eastcoastdesignstudio.com.

Last edited by Duracell; 01-27-2013 at 10:25 AM..
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:33 AM
21 posts, read 27,408 times
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Thank you very much Duracell on the article, very interesting. There were a couple of other articles i also wantes to read about on TDR but unfortuantly I dont have an account, could I trouble you a little bit and ask for a favor? Would it possible to post the articles about the city council meeting and also the article about the minor baseball league coming to greenville?
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:28 AM
286 posts, read 553,038 times
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Access to the paper online thru the public library. They usually post the current day's articles midway through the afternoon.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:58 AM
872 posts, read 1,718,442 times
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Originally Posted by frisch View Post

Access to the paper online thru the public library. They usually post the current day's articles midway through the afternoon.
Maybe just a brief rundown of what the article said? I don't live in the area and have neither a subscription to the local paper or a library card!
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:34 PM
36 posts, read 53,674 times
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I have heard more construction was to take place behind the Kohls/dicks sporting stores...I heard a rumor today that it was to be a Super Target..does anyone have any info?
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:43 PM
910 posts, read 1,167,336 times
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It'd be nice if they could find some tenants to fill out all those empty storefronts there, maybe finally justify the insane amount of parking space they built there.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:11 PM
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Council planning hits roadblock
Daily Reflector, The (Greenville, NC) - Sunday, January 27, 2013
Searching for consensus, a 30-year veteran with the state Department of Commerce was unable to find common ground Saturday among the City Council on more than $50 million of capital investment projects in Greenville.

After five staff presentations, 10 rounds of facilitated discussion and 45 proposed ideas to move the city forward, the council ended its annual planning session with little to no direction for staff.

The board spent close to seven hours at odds — sometimes arguing bitterly — about the projects they wanted staff to pursue the upcoming fiscal year in a debate some members described as a forum for the city’s polarized politics.

Facilitator David Long — a private consultant from Greensboro hired to help the city identify its most pressing issues, needs and opportunities — wrapped up the retreat at 4 p.m., saying he will summarize and return the results of the board’s discussions at a later date.

“As suspected some council members came prepared to fight against a plan before they knew what was going to be presented,” said at-large councilman Dennis Mitchell, who has made economic development his top priority. “In the end, our city manager gave us a bold vision and several options to pay for it and we did nothing.”

Mitchell was the only council member to specifically endorse a capital improvement project, recommending staff to move forward with planning the construction of the $2.5 million Medical Research Park and the $4 million Go Science Center.

The plans presented included ways to pay for road resurfacing, upgrading deteriorating parks and facilities, and possible funding of the 15 economic development projects that together totaled about $50 million.

The remainder of the council only loosely identified West Greenville and the downtown district as areas in need of revitalization, redirecting staff to go back to the drawing board and hammer out alternate forms of funding for projects.

Among the requests made by the board included asking staff to diversify the city’s revenue sources, explore bond referendums, further develop economic incentives and pursue more partnerships with East Carolina University, Pitt County and Vidant Medical Center.

City manager Barbara Lipscomb pushed the council to decide on a time frame and a specific list of projects it wanted to pursue either individually or together, adding that staff had provided enough research to proceed.

Council members indicated they will continue to review the information provided by staff and discuss those topics at future City Council meetings.

“Let’s disseminate this information to the community and take an informal temperature of our needs and wants before moving forward with a set course,” District 3 Councilwoman Marion Blackburn said. “I know we drill down and quantify certain ideas, but we need to first agree on a proposal.”

Greenville’s Financial Services Director Bernita Demery said the city could afford $420 million in debt if it explored a mixture of potential revenue sources.

She said the council could secure limited obligation and special revenue bonds, installment purchase agreements or cash out a one-time contribution of $4.2 million from the general fund to fiance economic development projects.

Demery added the city also could find an extra $24 million in revenue, if it increased property taxes by two percent, food and beverage taxes by one percent and sales taxes by a quarter percent.

“I recommend you move very fast in identifying the list of capital projects you want to pursue,” Lipscomb said. “The money and the construction costs are not going to get any cheaper.”

Although the council indicated it wanted to upgrade the South Greenville Recreation Center and possibly bring a multi-media art center downtown, it said it first wanted to address the city’s system of roads.

Public Works Director Kevin Mulligan told the board that approximately 100 miles of city roadway is in poor condition. At $100,000 per mile, he estimated it would cost $10 million to resurface, which in a 20-year replacement plan, he put at $2.5 million annually.

“These are significant issues that need to be floated out to the business community and area residents,” Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said. “We are just the tip of the spear for 85,000-plus people in the city. We need to gain input and come back and flesh out the details of each idea.”

Mitchell said in the coming days he plans to lobby his fellow council members to present a bond referendum to voters in November to fund economic development items.

“What we know is that the rates are the lowest they have ever been and with our strong financial standing as a city we have more than enough capacity to handle the bonds,” Mitchell said. “If we are serious about economic development and becoming a first class city, we have to be bold enough to act on a bold vision.”
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:17 PM
3,323 posts, read 5,188,387 times
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Group swinging to land ball team
Daily Reflector, The (Greenville, NC) - Sunday, January 27, 2013
Back in the late 1940s, the Imperial Tobacco plant bustled on the edge of downtown Greenville, processing between 10 million and 15 million pounds of the golden leaf each season.

Now, more than three decades after the factory sent its last shipment overseas, private investors envision the site - gutted by fire in 2008 - as a reinvented campus, a place where a minor-league baseball team may want to locate.

The dream is part of a larger effort being led by the Greater Greenville Sports Club. Behind the theme, "Step up to the plate, let's bring baseball home," about 30 business and civic leaders across the region have donated $10,000 to the campaign - an impressive start for the nonprofit, considering the struggles of minor-league sports even before the recent recession.

Yet despite a recovering economy, the nonprofit organization remains optimistic it can reach its goal of $50,000 and hire the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to study whether Greenville, an area rich in baseball tradition, can once again support a minor-league team.

Its confidence stems from much of the older generation, those familiar with the lure of America's game and what it can do to transform a city.

"I only had but one bicycle growing up in Greenville and the worst thing my mother could do was take it away," said Don Wilkerson, 73, a native of what was once called "Tobacco Town," the Dickinson Avenue district through which much of eastern North Carolina's tobacco trade can be traced. "Without it, I could not ride over to Guy Smith Stadium and watch the Greenville Greenies play the Wilson Tobacconists in an afternoon matinee."

'A simple life'

In East Carolina University's digital library, fading pictures tell of the beginnings of minor league baseball along the Coastal Plain.

You'll see generations of men who spent their days in red brick warehouses shaking leaves off stems and collecting a season's pay to pack starter-kit stadiums in Greenville, Rocky Mount, Wilson and Kinston to watch teams whose mascots matched the culture of their work: Greenies, Golden Leaves, Tobacconists and Indians.

Wilkerson first got hooked in 1949, at age 9, when his family lived at the corner of Eighth and Evans streets. The Greenies were sold the next year.

"It was an exciting time ... a simple life," Wilkerson said.

Since that time, semipro baseball has taken a complicated turn, with profits elusive and team ownership changing often. Without marquee names and media exposure, teams have relied on energetic marketing to lure fans. The challenge has been even tougher for cities like Greenville.

At first blush, the recession and the debut of new markets would seem to make this hard business harder. But local investors are striving to turn both developments into an advantage - an economic development advantage.

"The general sentiment among the community is that baseball is an economic development tool that when successfully located and managed can substantially grow and revive center cities," said District 4 Greenville City Councilman Calvin Mercer.

Mercer became involved in minor league recruitment as a private resident - not an elected official - in mid April, shortly after the sale of the Kinston Indians became final and the 70-year-old franchise moved to Zebulon as the Carolina Mudcats.

He floated the question in his monthly newsletter if it would be feasible to continue the work of mayors Don Parrott and Pat Dunn and attempt to bring a ball club back to Greenville, one of the fastest growing cities in the state.

The response from the general public was positive and over the next three to four months, Mercer began to form a non-governmental project group of about 30 business and civic leaders from different segments of the private sector.

The group named a steering committee, designated the Greater Greenville Sports Club as its lead fundraiser and met regularly to discuss new ideas.

Rising from the ashes

The group Mercer assembled includes architects, attorneys, engineers and general contractors, and while they continue to assess new strategies, the poster child of their proposal is an abandoned district south of downtown Durham.

Reborn as the American Tobacco Campus, the warehouses that once held cigarette-rolling machines now house top software firms, advertising agencies, public radio and a culinary school.

From the Lucky Strike smokestack, it's a short walk to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park or the new Durham Performing Arts Center, which lures shows right off Broadway.

There are wide-open offices walled with glass, exposed ductwork everywhere and walkways that wind around a colossal coal furnace. Occupancy on the million-plus square-foot campus now stands at 99 percent.

But before the industrial wasteland was rebuilt, it bore a striking resemblance to Greenville's former "Tobacco Town."

"They did some pretty innovative things that totally reenergized their downtown," said Phil Dixon, president of the Greater Greenville Sports Club and former chair of the Pitt County Chamber of Commerce. "And right now, we are getting all the right reads that we can do something very similar here."

Earlier this month, the Greenville Redevelopment Commission unveiled plans to redesign Dickinson Avenue as the new "Tobacco Warehouse District."

Early artist renderings show a plan that would completely change the streetscape of the retail district, including commercial and cultural space, rotating art parks, refinished wall murals and memorial markers for the Higgs neighborhood and the area's tobacco and railroad industry.

Burdened with one of the densest downtowns in the region, developers hope to flip the city's center toward the Dickinson Avenue corridor to directly tie into the 10th Street Connector, a major catalyst for future growth.

At the intersection of 10th and Evans streets, an entrance would be built and the downtown would grow around Reade Circle, with many new developments going around the new highway connecting East Carolina University to Vidant Medical Center.

There are plans to relocate a federal courthouse from Wilson across from Sheppard Memorial Library, build a multimillion-dollar office complex next door and, up the road, put in a visual and performing arts center for ECU.

When everything is said and done, the largest tract of land remaining between Dickinson Avenue and West Fifth Street will be the old Imperial Tobacco warehouse, which consultants have said is "just the right size for a baseball stadium."

'Business sense'

At the peak of production at Imperial Tobacco, a siren sounded every day at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., controlling the shifts of the workday.

Now, it is the sound of a different siren - police sirens - that are more known of the plant, a recent hot spot for vagrants, vandals and thieves.

The project group hopes the plant can control local business again, attracting new development and increasing the local tax base with money from sports fans wanting to come live, work and relax at or near a minor-league ball park that's home to a team with a major-league affiliate.

"I am looking at this from the standpoint that in doing it, we will have our hotels fill up, youth league tournaments want to come play here and a walkable downtown that attracts businesses and residents," said Tony Khoury, a managing principal of the East Group and a member of the minor-league project group. "This has to be part of the overall puzzle."

As a member of the Pitt County Committee of 100 and Uptown Greenville, the nonprofit designated to revitalize downtown, Khoury said he is a strong believer in economic development and that a minor league team could help, if it matches the city's and county's plans.

"It needs to make business sense," he said. "If it doesn't, we do not need to do it."

The feasibility study, when afforded, is said to answer all the economics of minor-league baseball in Greenville and from start to finish, show the steps through which the city must follow to lure a team.

Early estimates show that with perennial Little League, high school and university baseball teams in the area, Greenville has the potential to support a team. The only question is whether it has the facilities.

Robert Griffin, a veteran architect and a member of the local study group, has worked on many nationwide sports projects, namely minor-league baseball facilities. He said Guy Smith Stadium would work in the interim, but in the long term, it would need extensive renovations.

Estimates show the ballpark can only seat between 1,200 and 1,500 fans and records indicate that while the stadium would meet minor-league regulations, it would not satisfy the support facilities required of a baseball complex.

But what the numbers don't show, Griffin said, is the family mood of game nights: gate-opening foghorn blasts at 6 p.m.; wraparound concourses filled with children and adults and enthusiastic fans, like Wilkerson, looking for a trip down memory lane.

"We need a team in eastern North Carolina," Griffin said. "It's name recognition for the region. It brings the community together and I believe that it could be a huge economic stimulus for the area, if handled properly."
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:29 PM
Location: Greenville, NC
208 posts, read 325,599 times
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Originally Posted by ecusmitty View Post
I have heard more construction was to take place behind the Kohls/dicks sporting stores...I heard a rumor today that it was to be a Super Target..does anyone have any info?
It is a very nice area and plenty of land to work with.
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