Tate Street closed at Oakland Avenue for overpass project; Spring Garden still blocked for work on Spring Street overpass

Maintenance on the railroad overpass on Tate Street is scheduled to be completed this week. Click on any of the photos to see them larger.
maintenance work underway on Tate Street railroad overpass
A look behind the barricade shows the underpass getting a long overdue paint job as part of the maintenance project.

With traffic at historic lows, the city is taking advantage of the lull to conduct street maintenance. Tate Street closed between Spring Garden and Gate City Boulevard on April 11 for work on the railroad overpass. The work is scheduled to be completed this week. The project follows what appears to be similar work on the other side of campus on Josephine Boyd Street between Spring Garden and Gate City. That work is now complete.

On Spring Garden, the street remains closed near downtown at Spring Street for maintenance on the overpass. The project began in October and was scheduled to take three months. Work is still under way after seven. A construction manager at the site said Tuesday it could be finished by the end of May.

Work continues on the Spring Garden Street overpass, now four months beyond the expected completion date for what was scheduled to be three months work.
Posted in City Government, Oakland Avenue, Spring Garden Street, Tate Street, Traffic | Leave a comment

A swarm of honey bees is rounded up on Carr Street

Beekeeper David Millsaps examines a branch holding hundreds of bees before dropping them into his bee box on Carr Street on Friday.

A swarm of hundreds of honey bees settled in a front yard on Carr Street late Friday afternoon, on their way to a new place to live. A bush at 924 Carr provided an opportune spot to take a rest. Before the little pollinators were ready to take off and resume the search, College Hill beekeeper and good neighbor David Millsaps arrived to round them up and add them to his hives.

David said honey bees swarm when a hive gets too crowded and a group leaves to find a new home. This swarm arrived around mid-afternoon and formed a massive, loudly buzzing vortex near the bush where they gradually settled. Most of the bees formed a core several feet in diameter and several feet high with others orbiting as far out as the street and the porch of the house next door. It shrank down to nothing over the course of 30 minutes or so as the bees settled down upon each other in the bush. Swarming honey bees aren’t aggressive and won’t attack unless they feel threatened, David said while he collected them.

David explains the process to homeowners Lynn Gagnier and Dave Hemm.
David checks a frame that still contains honey from an earlier hive. The honey will nourish the swarm, which needs food after its flight in search of a new place to live.
The first step is to trim some branches to reach the resting swarm.
The inner branches holding the bees get clipped and dropped down to the bee box.
Once most of the bees have settled into the box, David replaces the last frame.
As he brushes a few stragglers out of his hair, David and the swarm are ready to go.
Posted in Animals, Carr Street | Tagged | 2 Comments

State Historic Preservation Office features College Hill’s 1919 firehouse as an example of using tax credits for rehabilitation

One of the old firehouses on South Mendenhall Street is highlighted in the latest newsletter from the State Historic Preservation Office as an example of historic rehabilitation facilitated by the use of state and federal tax credits. It stands at 442 S. Mendenhall Street. The building was once known as Greensboro Fire Station No. 5 and earlier as the West End Hose Company. It replaced an older firehouse half a block away, now the home of Firehouse Grocery.

This 1919 fire station was erected within the College Hill Historic District to house one of the city’s new motorized fire trucks first put into service in 1913. It served as the second home of Fire Station No. 5 until it moved to a new, much larger facility in 1964. The station was then converted into a residence, and this 2018 rehabilitation continues its use as a single-family residence. This project was spurred by the use of the federal and state historic income-producing tax credits with a private investment rehabilitation cost of $144,000.

— “Worth Saving,” the SHPO’s quarterly newsletter

Click here to see the entire newsletter.

About historic tax credits

Tax credits are available for two types of structures — owner-occupied and income-producing. Homeowners can apply for a 15 percent state tax credit on up to $150,000 in expenses ($10,000 minimum) on qualified rehabilitation projects for the home they occupy. Houses are eligible if they’re on the National Register of Historic Places or are contributing structures in National Register historic districts (College Hill is a National Register historic district). The work must meet The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The SHPO decides whether projects qualify for tax credits. It’s complicated, so homeowners should consult with the agency before beginning work.

Owners of income-producing properties can apply for both a 20 percent federal tax credit and a 15 percent state tax credit on qualifying, “substantial” rehabilitation projects. The SHPO is the gate-keeper on these, too, and should be consulted in advance of any work because, just like with owner-occupied projects, there are a million ways to go wrong and possibly not qualify.

At the state level, historic rehabilitation tax credits have been a political pinata for several years. They currently have a sunset date of January 1, 2023, but they could disappear at the drop of a Republican hat any time the Legislature is in session. So the first step is always to make sure they still exist.

Posted in Historic Preservation, Mendenhall Street | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Closings and changes in hours for College Hill businesses: They need your support today to survive the coronavirus

To whatever extent you can, please support our local businesses as they struggle to survive. Here’s the current status of businesses in College Hill. Please send any updates or corrections to via email. This list will be updated on the Businesses page.

Closed until further notice

  • Coffeeology
  • College Hill Sundries
  • Tate Street Coffee
  • Weatherspoon Art Museum

Open with reduced hours or other limitations

  • FedEx Office — Only 10 customers allowed inside at a time
  • Firehouse Grocery — Now closing at midnight
  • Parts Unknown — Limited hours: Monday-Saturday, Noon to 5, Sunday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • Re:Cycles — Open by appointment only (contact via email)
  • Sisters on Tate — The store is closed, but sistersontate.com is still open for business.

Open as usual

  • College Mart
  • Leon’s
  • Two Geeks

Takeout and delivery

Call for information

  • Boutique Hypnotica — 336-333-2346
  • Don Japanese Restaurant — 336-370-9866
  • May Way Dumplings — 336-291-8481
Posted in Businesses, Mendenhall Street, Spring Garden Street, Tate Street, Walker Avenue | Leave a comment

Guilford’s only documented lynching occurred in College Hill; Community Remembrance Project will present information and plans on Wednesday March 18

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, established by the Equal Justice Initiative

Update: The meeting has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. A new date will be posted here when it is set.

The Guilford County Community Remembrance Project will present an informational session next week about their work on the Eugene Hairston lynching, the only documented lynching in Guilford County. The session will be held Wednesday, March 18, at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Fellowship Hall, 501 S. Mendenhall Street. The church has a weekly potluck that begins at 6 p.m.; the presentation will follow, from about 6:45 to 7:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to 336-275-6403 or via email. For those preferring to attend only the presentation, it will follow dinner and is expected to begin at approximately 6:45 pm and end by 7:30 pm.

This information is from Terry Hammond of the Guilford County Community Remembrance Project:

We are working to bring awareness to the legacy of lynching and racial terror in Guilford County. In the only documented lynching in Guilford County, Eugene Hairston, a 17-year-old African-American from Kernersville, was accused of assaulting a white 17-year old woman from Colfax. He was “taken into the suburbs of the city, in the neighborhood of Mr. Jackson’s farm and hanged near the little brick school house,” the Greensboro Morning News reported on August 26, 1887. After months of research, the location has been determined to be close to the present day Presbyterian Church of the Covenant and Jackson Street/Walker Avenue.

cover of the EJI report Lynching in America

Click image to read the EJI report “Lynching in America”

Working with the Equal Justice Initiative, the remembrance project will collect soil from the lynching site in May to be included in EJI’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. It also will erect a historical marker about the Hairston lynching and more general information about lynching in the United States. In addition, the project will create a memorial site for a monument that will duplicate the one at the National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, which is waiting to be claimed by Guilford County.

Our coalition will be presenting an informational session about our work so far and our plans for the Soil Collection ceremony at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant (to be held in early May) on Wednesday, March 18, in the Fellowship Hall. The church has a weekly potluck that begins at 6 p.m.; our presentation will follow, from about 6:45 to 7:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to 336-275-6403 or via email. For those preferring to attend only the presentation, it will follow dinner and is expected to begin at approximately 6:45 pm and end by 7:30 pm.)

We invite members of the College Hill Neighborhood Association to attend this event.

Here are links to some of our recent media coverage: Editorial in the News & Record, Our Opinion: Light unto darkness, and front-page features in the News and Record and Triad City Beat

Posted in Jackson Street, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Walker Avenue | Tagged | Leave a comment

City allows Greensboro College to bypass normal oversight and demolish a key feature of a historic campus building

smokestack at Greensboro College

The smokestack on the Greensboro College power plant is clearly damaged. But if it’s such a grave hazard, why did the college wait eight months to do anything about it?

brick smokestack that Greensboro College claims is a public-safety hazardThis week, the city gave Greensboro College permission to tear down a character-defining feature of a historic building on campus without going through the Historic Preservation Commission. The college says the smokestack on its old power plant was hit by lighting in June 2019. Months later, the school suddenly says the smokestack is unsafe and the city’s historic-district regulations must be bypassed so it can demolish the stack immediately. The city staff rushed to do the college’s bidding (compare that to the response residents and neighborhoods typically receive when they try to get the city to do anything).

The college did nothing about any damage to the smokestack for more than six months, and now they claim to have such a public-safety emergency that action must be taken immediately, conveniently bypassing established procedures for such action. The city’s historic preservation staff and a building inspector didn’t bother to consider whether the stack should be repaired immediately, rather than demolished. They also didn’t bother to consider concerns raised by two HPC members and the college’s well-established history of flouting historic-district regulations.

Based on the college’s past actions — and its eight months of inaction on this supposed emergency — its claim regarding the smokestack cannot be taken at face value.

For example, last year, it cut down seven trees on campus without getting the required approval from the historic-preservation staff or HPC. When they were called on it, they came to the Historic Preservation Commission with no documentation or any evidence supporting their claim that the trees were dead and had to be taken down. Click here for the after-the-fact application filed by Greensboro College for a certificate of appropriateness to cut down the trees. It tells you all you need to know about how much respect the college has for the city (it also says something about the professionalism of Greensboro College officials). And the lack of any penalties for their actions tells you all you need to know about how seriously the city takes its historic district regulations.

Another relatively recent example: A couple years ago, the commission gave the college permission to put up a digital sign within the historic district on Market Street, subject to specific restrictions that the college agreed to. As soon as the sign went up, the college began operating it without regard to the restrictions. They stopped only when a member of the HPC asked the city staff to enforce the restrictions.

There’s no doubt that the smokestack is damaged and needs repair. Whether it constitutes an actual public-safety danger that warrants immediate demolition, as the college claims after eight months of inaction, isn’t as clear. All we have is the word of an institution with a history of acting in bad faith. But that’s enough for the city staff. Unsafe housing complaints may take months or years to resolve, but a city inspector will race right to the scene to bypass historic-preservation oversight and give Greensboro College what it wants, when it wants. That’s quite a contrast to the city’s response to College Hill residents’ complaints about the unsafe speed of traffic on South Mendenhall Street — years of obstruction and resistance.

The campus is in the historic district. The building is on McGee Street, directly across from Wafco Mill in the old industrial section of College Hill. The power plant is a historic building, and the smokestack, obviously, is a character-defining feature. The college has already informed the city it has no plans to rebuild it if it is torn down. Not for the first time and not for the last, the city shrugs its shoulders and says, “Sure, why not?”

This blog post reflects the opinions of its author and may not represent the views of the College Hill Neighborhood Association.

Posted in City Government, Greensboro College, Historic Preservation, McGee Street, Wafco Mills | Leave a comment

“To the Hoop | Basketball and Contemporary Art”: An exhibition now on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum

small basketball court in a farm field

Bill Bamberger, Farm Home by Cotton Field, Plymouth, North Carolina, 2004, color inkjet print, 19 5/16 x 28 7/8 in. Edition. Courtesy of the artist. © Bill Bamberger.

Now through June 1: To the Hoop | Basketball and Contemporary Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, 2nd Floor: The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery and Gallery 6

Thursday February 27, 6:30 p.m.,  Talk: To the Hoop, Emily Stamey

Our friendly neighborhood art museum has a timely new exhibition, organized by Dr. Emily Stamey, curator of exhibitions and College Hill neighbor. From the WAM website:

From its storied invention in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith as a recreational activity for “incorrigible” youth, to its multibillion-dollar industry today, basketball has uniquely captured America’s imagination—and stolen North Carolina’s heart.

Embedded in its history are many of the topics fueling current social concerns and contemporary art. Divisions between rural and urban cultures can be considered in the distinctions between the sport’s development in farming town gymnasiums and inner-city playgrounds. Increasing commercialization can be traced through its intersections with fashion and franchising. Issues of racial equity reverberate through the NBA and NCAA. And, the advancement of women’s roles can likewise be considered through the early adaptation of rules for female athletes and the successes of the WNBA.

That game’s golden era of the late 1970s through the 1990s coincided with both an explosion of the contemporary art market and with artistic shifts towards addressing so many of the social issues—race, gender, economics—that readily surface in basketball’s widespread popularity. And, basketball’s distinct visual qualities make it an apt subject for artists: unlike a baseball concealed in a glove or a football buried under a pileup, a basketball is readily seen, and the athletes wear relatively minimal uniforms on an indoor court where cameras easily capture their expressions as they soar towards elevated goals.

To the Hoop explores these myriad facets of basketball’s intersection with contemporary art and culture, offering an opportunity to consider our world through the overlapping lenses of sport and art.

woman wearing basketball-jersey wedding dress

Esmaa Mohamoud, One of the Boys (Yellow Back), 2018, color inkjet print, 60 x 40 in. Edition. Courtesy of the artist and Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto. © Esmaa Mohamoud.

Posted in Mendenhall Street, UNCG, Weatherspoon Art Museum | Tagged | Leave a comment

917 Walker is now a rental for professionals and their families; one ‘chic’ apartment at 706 Walker is now a ‘vacation rental’

917 walker avenue seen from the street

917 Walker Avenue is now a rental, marketed as a “perfect home for a professor at UNCG or any other professional family that wants live in this great location.”

Two residences on Walker Avenue have become rentals somewhat atypical  for College Hill.

917 Walker was sold in November and is now being marketed as a rental for families. It previously was owner-occupied. An LLC bought the house and is listing it for $2,250 per month.

“Great Location, Off Street Parking,” a sloppily written listing on Zillow says. “3 bedroom 3 bath house with a beautiful yard. READY to LEASE. perfect home for a professor at UNCG or any other professional family that wants live in this great location. … Can be a short term lease for a strong credit. (requires bigger deposit) Partly furnished.”

The new owner is an LLC called Black Rhino Capital Group. County records show it owns two homes in Greensboro, both bought in late 2019. The home was previously owned by Kate Black, a real estate agent. The sale price was $280,000. The property wasn’t listed publicly for sale.

706 walker avenue seen from the street

706 Walker, aka “the ultimate North Carolina getaway!”

The first-floor apartment of 706 Walker Avenue is now a “vacation rental.”

“This contemporary duplex is a fantastic destination for smaller families or couples looking to explore downtown Greensboro with easy access to nearby attractions, outdoor recreation, and the UNC Greensboro campus,” the VRBO website says.

The apartment has two bedrooms, 850 square feet and a listed capacity of six people. VRBO lists it as “NEW! Modern Dwtn Retreat <1 Mi to UNC Greensboro.” It has an average rate of $117 per night (plus a $106 “cleaning fee,” listed far down the page).

“Make your stay in Greensboro one to remember with a stay at this 2-bed, 1-bath vacation rental nestled in the downtown historic district,” the listing says. “This chic duplex offers all the comforts of home including modern amenities, a spacious kitchen, and comfortable furnishings. You’ll be within walking distance from the excitement of the UNC Greensboro campus and a short drive away from well-known attractions such as the Greensboro Arboretum and LeBauer Park, making this the ultimate North Carolina getaway!”

Asheville, Pinehurst and Bald Head Island, you’re toast.

Posted in Walker Avenue | Tagged | Leave a comment

S. Mendenhall improvements, street paving set for this year; new sidewalk is being considered for lower end of Carr Street

traffic on s. mendenhall at odell place

Lane shifts were added to South Mendenhall Street after the 2019 repaving. Construction on additional traffic-calming measures could begin by the end of the year.

The city plans to begin construction on the next phase the South Mendenhall Street traffic-calming project by the end of the year. It also expects this year to repave five streets that were torn up for water and sewer work in recent years.

An unexpected project also is being considered: The possible addition of a long-needed sidewalk along the south side of Carr Street between Tate and McIver streets.

South Mendenhall Street is now being surveyed in preparation for the construction of long-term traffic-calming measures. Jeff Sovich of the city Planning Department briefed the College Hill Neighborhood Association on the city’s plans at Monday’s meeting. Design work on the bump-outs and other structures will begin once the survey is complete. The city hopes to begin construction by the end of the year. The design will be prepared by John Fersner, new chief design engineer in the Engineering & Inspections Department.

The project is the result of years of planning initiated by the neighborhood association to reduce the excessive speed of traffic on South Mendenhall between Market and Spring Garden Streets. The changes began last year when lane shifts were implemented throughout the five blocks targeted for traffic-calming.

Funding for the project comes from the historic district’s Municipal Service Fund, paid for exclusively by College Hill property owners.

2020 street repaving

Water- and sewer-line rehabilitation, mostly conducted in 2018, seriously deteriorated the already poor condition of many College Hill streets. Repaving is scheduled for this year on:

  • Carr Street from Tate to Mendenhall streets,
  • Joyner Street from Spring Garden to Oakland Avenue,
  • Rankin Place from Tate to Mendenhall streets,
  • and Tate Street from Market Street to Gate City Boulevard.

In addition, Spring Street, just east of the neighborhood, will be repaved from West McGee Street to Fisher Avenue.

Dates for the work have not been determined. Jeff has informed the Engineering and Inspections Department of streets that have excess crown heights and/or insufficient curb heights. On Carr Street, for example, the curbs are only a couple inches high after previous street repavings.

pedestrian walks on hazardous stretch of carr st.

A pedestrian walks on the hazardous south side of Carr Street near Tate Street

New Carr Street sidewalk possible

In contrast to the city Transportation Department’s years of obstruction and foot-dragging on the South Mendenhall project, the city is taking the initiative on a problem on Carr Street between Tate and McIver streets. The block will be studied to see whether a sidewalk can be constructed on the south side of the street. Pedestrians coming up the west side of Tate Street from the business district often turn down Carr and walk on the side of the street with no sidewalk, rather than crossing Carr, walking down the side of the street with a sidewalk and then crossing back again at McIver if they’re on their way to the Sullivan Science Building, the School of Nursing or other points to the south. The high volume of vehicles, often including heavy trucks, coming up Carr Street from the campus continually results in a hazardous situation for pedestrians walking in the street.

A new sidewalk would require moving the curb on the south side of the block about 8 feet into the street and eliminating five parking spaces on the north side. The new sidewalk would be about 150 feet long. The feasibility of such a project will need to be determined before a decision can be made to go ahead with it.

Posted in Carr Street, City Government, College Hill Neighborhood Association, Joyner Street, Market Street, McGee Street, Mendenhall Street, Municipal Service District, Oakland Avenue, Parking, Public Safety, Rankin Place, Spring Garden Street, Tate Street, Traffic | Tagged | Leave a comment

Spring Garden Street to be closed much longer than expected

view toward college hill from under the eugene street overpass on spring garden street

Spring Garden Street was closed between Spring Street and downtown in September for work on the overpass bridges for Spring Street and Freeman Mill Road. The city said then the work would be completed by the end of the year. Now they’re saying the bridges were in worse shape than expected, and Spring Garden Street will remain blocked indefinitely.

Specifics are unavailable (I asked Amanda Lehmert, one of the city’s PR people, to check on the status of the project, and GDOT wouldn’t even respond to her). But Lehmert was able to report that Spring Garden will be closed much longer than expected and why.

In other city construction news, replacement of the pedestrian bridges on the Lake Daniel Greenway also is taking longer than expected. One of the replacement bridges is open (the one closer to Lake Daniel Park). The other, the one closer to the traffic circle, requires new piers and will take considerably longer. Replacement of the two bridges was to be a two-month project completed in December.

spring garden street blocked at spring street

Posted in City Government, Spring Garden Street | 1 Comment