Long-awaited College Hill street signage project to begin

Diagram showing decorative College Hill street signsNews release from the City of Greensboro:

Post Date:05/31/2023 11:32 AM

“Refurbished decorative street name signs and sign posts will soon grace the historic College Hill neighborhood. A City contractor will be removing signs at about 30 intersections throughout College Hill to be refurbished, upgraded, and reinstalled.

“Supplemental signage to highlight College Hill Historic District will be added at 12 key intersections in the neighborhood. Decorative street lamp posts will not be removed.

“This work is expected to take about 60 days to complete and will involve the removal of all street name signs for several weeks.

“Also, some busy intersections lanes might need to be temporarily closed during this timeframe. See the map below of the work area (outlined in blue). Motorists traveling in the area for the next two months should use caution and be prepared to experience minor delays.

“College Hill residents have collaborated with the City’s Planning Department for several years to prepare this highly anticipated project.”

The College Hill Neighborhood Association has been working on this project for years. Jeff Sovich of the city Planning Department has been particularly helpful in moving it through the approval process. Many College Hill residents have given much time and effort to make it a reality. The project will be paid for with money neighborhood property owners have paid into the neighborhood’s Municipal Service District fund.

Aerial map of College Hill showing locations of decorative street signs

Posted in City Government, College Hill Neighborhood Association, Traffic | Leave a comment

This month at the HPC: Window changes and a new fence

The Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 31, at 4 p.m. The agenda will include public hearings on two applications for certificates of appropriateness for College Hill properties at 706 Spring Garden Street and 924 Carr Street. The meeting will be held in the Plaza Level Conference Room, Melvin Municipal Building, 300 W. Washington Street.

The meeting is open to the public, and anyone who wants to speak in favor of or in opposition to an application will be given an opportunity to do so. Since the commission’s public hearings are quasi-judicial procedures, testimony can be given only in person at the meeting, and speakers must swear or affirm to tell the truth.

Click on the links below for PDF copies of the full applications.

706 Spring Garden Street (January 2023 photo)

706 Spring Garden Street

Construct picket fence (Application 2704)

Description of fence project

924 Carr Street (January 2023 photo)

924 Carr Street

Window changes as part of kitchen remodeling (Application 2706)

This extraordinarily long application is a good example of how a COA application for a complex project should be written. A short excerpt:

The property is a Queen Anne cottagestyle home built prior to 1899 as a rental property by the original owners who lived next door. Its significant exterior and interior features have been carefully preserved over the years. Figures 1, 2.

David and Lynn Hemm have owned the property since 2014 and have continued the stewardship of this historic property. Both are active participants in the College Hill Neighborhood Association. David has served as a board member for several years. David and Lynn invited Mike Cowhig and Stefanleih Geary from the City of Greensboro to visit their home and provide input on the appropriate ways to maintain the special character of the Historic District, while meeting the practical needs of the owners.

A kitchen remodel was last completed about 30 years ago. Figures 3, 4, 5. The kitchen is very limited in both storage and working surface spaces. Its configuration appears to have changed several times over its history.

A rear elevation window was installed by a previous owner. It is a double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicate the two over two double hung windows that are original to the house. Figures 6, 7, 8. A dated kitchen ventilation fan in the wall above this window discharges via the attic through the rear gable end to the exterior, suggesting that this was at one time the location of the cook stove. Figures 9, 10. It also suggests that at that time there was not a window in this location.

A side (secondary) elevation window provides illumination for the kitchen. This window appears be of similar vintage to the original windows. Figures 11, 12, 13. The frame and muntins have been reworked, prompting Mike Cowhig to speculate that this window may not be original to this location. This window, and several others in the house, have external wood framed storm windows. Figure 13. The owners have found these storm windows to be unsatisfactory in significantly reducing the heat loss from the home. They are “very drafty.”

The probable original butler pantry is now being used as a laundry room. Figure 14. A small storage room opposite the butler pantry was enlisted as a utility closet for the water heater and furnace. The furnace was later relocated, leaving patched openings in the floor and ceiling. Figures 15 and 16. The water heater remains, compromising the room’s use for storage. Figure 17.

Another side (secondary) elevation window is in the storage room. Figures 18, 19, 20. It is a two light casement window with one broken pane and hinges that appear to not be original. It has not been operable during the current ownership. The storage room is not heated and is very cold during the winter.

A side, rear porch, invisible from the street, provides a rear entrance to the home. Figures 21, 22. Long prior to the current ownership the porch was enclosed to form an interior hallway and bathroom. Figures 23 and 24. The exterior entrance to this space features a modified door that is not in any way appropriate to the home. Figure 25. The doorway is out of level and plumb and the resultant gaps around the jamb allow substantial air leakage from/to the outside. Figure 26. …

This application strives to achieve a balance between function and preservation. The standards allow for change when it is accomplished in a sensitive manner that maintains the special character of the Historic District, while meeting the practical needs of the residents/property owners. The owners request approval for:

  1. Replacement of a nonoriginal rear elevation window with a shorter identical window that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to accommodate optimal placement of the kitchen sink.
  2. Replacement of a period side (secondary) elevation window with a modern double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to recycle an architectural unit and improve energy efficiency.
  3. Replacement of an original side (secondary) elevation window with a modern double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to improve energy efficiency for an unheated room.
  4. Replacement of a nonconforming side, rear exterior entrance door with a salvaged, period appropriate door, to eliminate a nonconforming architectural feature and improve energy efficiency.
  5. Installation of a tankless water heater on the rear elevation to restore the original unimpeded use of the storage room.
Posted in Carr Street, Historic Preservation Commission, Spring Garden Street | Leave a comment

Arlen Nicolls named to Historic Preservation Commission

Arlen Nicolls has been named the College Hill representative on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. She is a Realtor and has lived in College Hill since 2008. Arlen has long been active in the College Hill Neighborhood Association, having served as a board member and treasurer.

The Historic Preservation Commission is a quasi-judicial board that reviews applications for Certificates of Appropriateness for exterior work in Greensboro’s three local historic districts. All exterior work on historic-district properties must meet the city’s Historic District Program Manual and Design Guidelines. New construction also requires a COA and is subject to the guidelines.

The HPC also makes recommendations to the City Council on historic-preservation matters, including additions or changes to the National Register of Historic Places, and to the Board of Adjustment on requests for variances and special exceptions in the historic districts.

Meetings are open to the public. The commission holds a public hearing on each request for a Certificate of Appropriateness. It receives a recommendation from the city’s historic preservation staff and then hears from those supporting the request or opposing it. Because of the quasi-judicial nature of the hearing, all speakers must swear or affirm to tell the truth, and only testimony delivered in person is allowed.

After hearing the testimony, commission members discuss the application in terms of its congruity with historic-district guidelines and make a find-of-fact, explicitly citing the relevant facts of the application and the guidelines involved. They then vote to approve, approve with conditions or deny the request. They also can continue the application to the next meeting, although all requests have to be decided upon within 120 days of their filing date. The commission’s rulings can be appealed to Superior Court.

The commission meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m., usually in the Plaza Level Conference Room in the Melvin Municipal Office Building, 300 W. Washington Street. When that room isn’t available, the commission meets in the City Council chamber.

The nine commission members are appointed by the City Council for three-year terms. Arlen was appointed at the council’s March 7 meeting. The council is required to appoint  at least one resident from each of Greensboro’s three locally designated historic districts.

Arlen succeeds David Arneke, who has served the maximum two consecutive terms on the commission. Previous College Hill representatives include Patrick Lee Lucas, Jennifer Burns, Donna Kelly, Patrick Downs, and Julie Davenport.

Posted in City Government, College Hill Neighborhood Association, Historic Preservation Commission | Leave a comment

Guilford’s only documented lynching occurred in College Hill; you can learn about it via Zoom on Thursday February 23

1887 newspaper article reporting the lynching of Eugene HairstonGuilford County’s only documented lynching occurred in 1887 at a location described vaguely at the time as on or near “Mr. Jackson’s farm.” That farm was located in the general area of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in College Hill. The Guilford County Community Remembrance Project has researched the lynching and will make a presentation this month to a virtual meeting of the City of Greensboro’s Ad-hoc Committee on African American Disparity.

The meeting will be held Thursday February 23 at 6 p.m. via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 915 1305 6243
Passcode: 793452
Dial by Phone: 301 715 8592

“We are working to bring awareness to the legacy of lynching and racial terror in Guilford County,” project organizer Terry Hammond said in 2020, when a similar presentation was planned at the church. It was canceled when public gatherings were banned because of the pandemic.

“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.”

Among the news overage of the Remembrance Project are an 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 City Government, Jackson Street, Mendenhall Street, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Walker Avenue | Leave a comment

Homeowners and absentee landlords: Here’s how property ownership in College Hill stands today

College Hill mapThe January neighborhood association meeting on Monday will include a discussion of how to better engage College Hill’s many landlords in maintaining and improving the neighborhood. It’s a challenge that has been addressed with little success and varying degrees of enthusiasm and frustration since the association was established more than 40 years ago. But it’s an issue as relevant today as ever. Property ownership in College Hill is still tilted toward rentals and threatens to become even more imbalanced as the neighborhood’s home prices soar beyond the reach of most families but not of many “real estate investors.”

Absentee landlords have made up a large share of College Hill’s property owners since the Depression. Today, the mix is about 53 percent rental properties and 45 percent owner-occupied homes (the other 2 percent are vacant1Oddly, a total of 15 properties, almost 4 percent of the neighborhood’s residential properties, have achieved the ultimate in absentee ownership and are now owned by landlords who have died. The nine houses owned by James Dutton have been listed for sale by his estate. Nothing appears to be happening yet with the six owned by Jeff Towne.).

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Airbnb now shows 8 short-term rental listings in College Hill, including 3 entire houses and a house with 3 apartments

gray 1 1/2 story bungalow

1001 W. McGee Street, now a whole-house short-term rental

Dutch colonial

1010 W. McGee Street, also a whole-house short-term rental

Airbnb has listed short-term rentals in College Hill since at least 2014, but there may be more of them now than ever. This week, 919 Carr Street hosted its first Airbnb guests, bringing the total number of short-term rental units in the neighborhood to at least eight.1It’s possible there are other Airbnbs in College Hill. The website doesn’t provide specific addresses until reservations are made. It also show users only the rentals that are available on the dates specified for reservations. I checked dates in several months and found only these listings in College Hill. I didn’t find anyplace in the neighborhood listed with the other major short-term rental site, VRBO.com.

The online rental platform has become so popular, and, presumably, profitable, that two recently sold historic homes were bought specifically to become whole-house Airbnb rentals, 1001 W. McGee Street (“Stunning 4 bd/2 bth filled with every lux comfort!”) and 1010 W. McGee Street (“Grandeur and Beauty College Hill”). Both had been owner-occupied, single-family homes. 1001 W. McGee sold for $430,000 in December 2021; 1010 W. McGee sold for 375,000 in July 2021.

919 Carr Street, the most recent Airbnb listing in College Hill

919 Carr (“Cozy on Carr”), also a whole-house rental, had been a conventional rental property before being listed on Airbnb.

A large home on South Mendenhall Street offers three apartments (“1906 Rustic Comfort,” “1906 Classic Retreat” and “1906 Victorian Refuge“). The owners have a special-use permit to allow the three short-term rentals, which can accommodate a total of 12 guests. The owners themselves live in the house as well.

Other Airbnb rentals in College Hill include part of an owner-occupied, single-family home on Rankin Place (“Spacious Upstairs Suite”) and an apartment in a commercial building on Spring Garden Street (“The Fishbowl”).

At least three previous College Hill listings appear to have been taken off the site — a room in a house on Tate Street, an apartment on Tate and a small guest house on Walker Avenue.

Accommodations for visitors are nothing new in College Hill. In the relatively recent past, there have been two B&B’s in the neighborhood, the Troy-Bumpas Inn on South Mendenhall Street (1992-2016) and the College Hill Bed and Breakfast (1987-90) on Carr Street, but neither of the current owners offer Airbnb rentals.2From around 1949 to 1967, a tourist home eventually called the Manor Motel stood on West Market Street at Tate Street, now the site of the Greensboro College’ Reynolds Center (one section of the motel still sits behind the main building). In the 1960s, across Market Street in the 1000 block were a tourist home where the State Employees Credit Union now stands, the Shady Grove Motel in the Queen Anne house at 1020 West Market, and the Town House Motor Lodge at Market and South Mendenhall, built around 1962 and now called The Inn at Greensboro.

Numbers of Airbnb units vary in other older Greensboro neighborhoods and historic districts. There are more than a dozen listings in Fisher Park and at least four in Dunleath. Lindley Park has eight, and the Brice Street neighborhood, between Lindley Park and UNCG, has at least 11. Glenwood has at least seven. There are about six in Westerwood and only a couple in Sunset Hills, where property values are far higher and rentals of any sort far fewer.

Posted in Carr Street, McGee Street, Mendenhall Street, Rankin Place, Spring Garden Street, Tate Street, Walker Avenue | Tagged | 1 Comment

College Hill historic-home prices continued to soar in 2022

The elegant 915 Spring Garden Street sold for $595,000 in November 2022

2022 was a relatively quiet year for real estate in College Hill. Few historic homes went up for sale, continuing the trend of recent years. I counted 12 sales during the year; just three involved owner-occupied homes. Five houses (including a Sears kit house) and four condos were sold as rental properties, mostly to local or in-state buyers.

The sales of 915 Spring Garden Street and 303 S. Mendenhall Street continued the sharp increase in prices of restored owner-occupied houses in the historic district. 915 Spring Garden sold for $595,000; 303 S. Mendenhall, for $645,000. Those prices would have been unimaginable just a couple years ago. Even so, College Hill’s historic homes continue to be relative bargains. On a square-foot basis, those houses sold for $174 and $172, respectively. Well restored historic homes in Fisher Park, Irving Park and Sunset Hills sold consistently for more than $250 per square foot.

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Posted in Joyner Street, Market Street, McGee Street, Mendenhall Street, Spring Garden Street, Springdale Court, Tate Street, Wafco Mills | Leave a comment

Food drive for Spartan Open Pantry this Saturday at PCOC

flyer for PCOC food drive for Spartan Open Pantry

Posted in Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Spartan Open Pantry | Leave a comment

Holiday wreaths go up on College Hill lampposts

holiday wreath on lamppost

wreaths being made at PCOC

Wreath-maker Rosemarie DiGiorgio at work

Neighborhood volunteers have created holiday wreaths and put them up on lampposts up and down South Mendenhall Street. The wreaths were made possible in part by a generous donation of tree trimmings from the Delancy Street Holiday Tree lot.

Lyddan Pawlowski made the bows, Clara Kelly gathered holly, and Miriam and Tom Herin donated the magnolia leaves. The wreaths were created by Rosemarie DiGiorgio, Clara Kelly, Patti Pogodzinski and Samantha Smith. Josh Stewart and Dan Smith helped hang the wreaths.

The Delancey Street tree lot is at 2108 N. Church Street. “If you haven’t yet purchased your Christmas tree, this is the place to do it,” Samantha Smith, CHNA president, says. “They are so kind and helpful there, the trees are fresh, and the money goes to the very important cause of helping those struggling with addiction, homelessness, and other dire needs.

“Please get your tree from Delancey Street Tree Lot if you can so we can thank them for their generosity. They filled the entire back of my Subaru with fresh tree cuttings!”

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For newcomers and those who’ve forgotten: All College Hill residents are eligible for credit-union membership

All College Hill residents are eligible for membership in the Greensboro Municipal Federal Credit Union. This eligibility is extended to members of all neighborhood associations that belong to the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress. All College Hill residents are members of the College Hill Neighborhood Association, which is a member of the GNC.

The credit union has offices at 217 N. Greene Street, 2200 Soabar Street and 2511 Phillips Avenue. Members also can use the offices of the Co-Op Shared Branching network, including 23 in the Greensboro area and 5,000 nationwide.

ATMs are at the Soabar and Philips offices, the Depot and the Greensboro Farmer’s Market. Members also can use more than 30 surcharge-free CashPoints ATMs in Greensboro and hundreds more across the state.  CashPoints locations in Greensboro include the State Employees Credit Union office at Tate and Market streets, the Elliott Center at UNCG and Municipal Plaza on South Greene Street downtown.

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