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Are Historically-Black Towns History?

Photo credit: Drew Grimes/Wikimedia

Recently, I came across two sets of articles about Historically Black towns in Oklahoma and in Missouri. Part as a means of segregation and part as a means of dignity, self-respect and control of the civic space, African-Americans established or had help establishing their own towns after slavery. Unfortunately, the promises of economic growth and civic engagement were short-lived in many of these towns. Some were burned down. Others were disenfranchised or had other restrictions placed on them. Others died thanks to integration and increased opportunities for Blacks. In North Carolina, the town of Princeville, the first incorporated Black town in the United States. was nearly washed out by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. It has recovered, but as recently as 2012 had its town accounting taken over by the State of North Carolina.

Yet the opportunity exists for some of these towns to improve. Some can restore what architecture is left. Others can launch efforts to lure entrepreneurs and others interested in the slow food, do-it-yourself, and community placemaking movements. Plus, for those seeking refuge from higher rents in the city, but still wanting a walkable and vibrant neighborhood, they could become a newer version of whatever inner city neighborhood has died. For those who have outlived their usefulness or are too damaged for repair, care should be taken to preserve history through monuments and exhibits and folk festivals. Fellow planner and author Sheryse N. Dubose has called upon those, namely fellow Black Americans, who see themselves as being victims of gentrification, to gentrify their own selves, i.e. return to older towns and neighborhoods, purchase these homes that have value to other cultures and maintain unique characteristics such as eateries, music venues and corner stores that sell specific foods.

Something else that’s interesting, is how the struggles of black towns compare to struggles of black neighborhoods in bigger, integrated on paper, cities. It appears that in the times of segregation, that black towns were able to avoid issues of redlining, urban renewal and gentrification by enacting their own self governance. Their main threat, if the surrounding white towns did not care that they succeeded, appeared to be loss of commerce, no different than those predominately white small towns and rural townships. Other questions that arise are their ability to accept people of other cultures, such as Mexican farm workers or Asian refugees to regrow their population; if some major cities are defacto black towns now (i.e. Detroit) ;and can we continue our quest for integration, while preserving history and unique cultural businesses?

It is ultimately the question that has been the center of my blogging for the past 3 years: is black urbanism still a thing?

And with that, I invite you over to North Carolina Placebook for something that’s quite living, the latest news on governance and placemaking throughout North Carolina.


The Greensboro I Know Now

Amtrak's Piedmont Arrives from Raleigh
After writing Friday’s post, I have a few bullets I want to add about the Greensboro I’ve come to know since my return just over five years ago. The Greensboro that I know now:

–Has a real downtown. I can go dancing, hear jazz music on Friday nights, play pool, get an authentic Irish pub experience, get fresh veggies, craft beer, veggie lasagna, veggie pizza that doesn’t make me miss the meat, gourmet soul food and good brand new books on my own two feet, without risking life and limb (except sometimes at the Davie/McGee/MLK train bridge convergence).

–Has three times the number of  apartments downtown. The one I occupy has been a great place to live for almost two years. Having more housing downtown and housing similar to what’s offered in other cities also brings people from all over the world together, as they come here for jobs and school. I love getting to meet new people with different cultures in the frame of the culture of which I was raised.

–Has world-class, top-notch universities here, that are producing leaders in their fields and making sure we aren’t as far behind on the job numbers as we could be. Also, this site and all my subsequent ventures, would not exist had I not pursued higher education right here in town.

–Has generational and cultural issues. I could call them something else, but it really boils down to the generational tides. If we can get those straightened out and realize that everyone working doesn’t want to be corporate, no corporate suit can keep you from being your creative self after hours and there is wisdom on both sides of the fence, then we will get better. And yes, the problem is still a problem, but how much of that is really fear of irrelevance and impoverishment? No person can keep you from doing exactly what you need them to do in this world.If they are and they do, then the problem is on them and yes, we sometimes have to keep working just a little bit harder to get ahead. Shouldn’t have to, but we do.

And with that, I’m going to end the bullets. I could go on for days about this, but I’m going to leave with this letter, that I wrote a few weeks back about how much I love, but sometimes loathe, my hometown.

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The Raleigh I Knew

The Raleigh I met yesterday (4/3/20414). Clockwise from left, Sushi Blues Cafe on Glenwood Avenue, Glenwood South looking south from the corner of Peace and Glenwood, Reynolds Coliseum and the partially constructed Talley Student Union on NC State University's Campus.

The Raleigh I met yesterday (4/3/20414). Clockwise from left, Sushi Blues Cafe on Glenwood Avenue, Reynolds Coliseum and the partially constructed Talley Student Union on NC State University’s Campus and Glenwood South looking south from the corner of Peace and Glenwood.

Quite simply, the Raleigh I met when I first went off to college in 2004:

–Had yet to air condition the dorm I lived in and introduce on campus apartments for freshmen.

–Hadn’t introduced downtown apartments (and student housing) on a mass scale. Now, it seems like a new unit pops up daily on every block.

–Didn’t have a way to track its campus buses, nor did those buses connect downtown (or did downtown have it’s connector bus).

–Was sprawling out of control with no plan to fix it.

– Didn’t have bars and restaurants that turned their strip parking lots into decks and connect with street walkability. See Exhibit A above.

– Didn’t use roundabouts to manage traffic flow and make it more friendly to pedestrians

–Had buildings that garnered attention from the world, but had yet to build iconic ones in the modern era.

–Had northern hills, but no midtown.

–Had buses stuck in traffic, instead of zooming down shoulders.

–Had yet to finish educating this bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graduate of its largest university and get her to return back to be a part of this growing community.

The last half of that last bullet is not true. Yet. Oh and check out how Raleigh’s redefining itself on an official (and unofficial) branding level. Be sure to include your own Raleigh’s you’ve come to know (I’ll accept other RTP area cities too) in the comments here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Then have a great weekend. Read the news first though:

Great to see Durham’s Organic Transit and their ELF vehicle get mentioned in USA Today.

A Charlotte-centered analysis of its recent ranking on Smart Growth America’s sprawl list.

Although he often puts out political signs in front of his establishments, a Greensboro developer is under fire for one particular set of signs for one candidate.

High Point honors its Winter Olympian.

The agenda for last night’s Guilford commissioners meeting. What was actually discussed.

The CFO of the International Civil Rights Museum and Center reaches out to black professional groups for help promoting the museum, but also blames Greensboro City Council members by name for not supporting them.

More name calling amongst local elected officials, this time in Asheville and Buncombe County.

WRAL’s report on the VMT issue.

Canton’s Evergreen Packaging is working with the EPA to switch its boilers to natural gas and reduce air pollution in the area.

Charlotte’s Students First charter school to close next week, leaving 3oo K-8 students without a school in the middle of the spring semester.

Part of the newly widened I-85 in the Charlotte area will open in phases this weekend.

Now hints of bribery are surfacing around the Charlotte Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Charlotte residents are engaging with their own battle over trees with Duke Energy. More on this new “growth regulator,” which will also be used in Greensboro.

The Triad office of CRBE is purchasing Hagan Properties.

Forsyth County’s teen drug court has its first graduates.

Cumberland County officials have changed their guidelines for potential county health services operators.

UNC Wilmington is using renderings of athletic facilities to increase giving to that department, while the academic side is searching for ideas to increase giving.

The small businesses on Wilmington’s Castle Street gathered to celebrate their success.

Downtown Durham’s Pleiades Gallery celebrates its first year.

How Raleigh’s always loved entertainment venues, and is currently making its Pullen Park more popular.

And finally, a first look at the bill to make the state’s first public-private economic development agency.


Placebook: Loving the Un-Loveable Building

Harrelson Hall, N.C. State University

Harrelson Hall, N.C. State University

In honor of returning to my alma mater (the undergraduate one) for our annual PR Day,I wanted to take a moment and talk about its most unusual building. Some of you may think I want to talk about this one. Yes, it’s special. But it’s getting a lot of love and support now. No, the one I want to really discuss is the one pictured above.

At one time, it was  revolutionary, much like the Hunt Library is now. However, according to this account, things quickly went south. Oh and the building is too; it’s rumored (among other things) that the building is sinking in the ground. However, even though it may not exist in a few years, either from collapsing under its own weight or being torn down once all the student amenities move to the renovated student center in 2015, it’s still lovable.

Currently, those amenities include the bookstore and the Student Government. When I was in school, it was the math, history, and sometimes Spanish building. In other words, I spent a lot of time there, in its pie shaped classrooms and walking down its spiral ramp. I also complained along with everyone else about its steep outdoor staircases, tore a few holes in items in its tight and sharp wooden seats and got dizzy walking up and down the ramp. However, I also aced both math classes I took in that building, including one that I completely flunked out of in high school. And it’s an architectural marvel. Round buildings don’t exist everywhere. In essence, even our most hated buildings can house our best achievements and most unique and interesting ideas.

And with that, today’s news (will also be hashtaging and photographing my visit via Twitter and Instagram with #prday2014 and #ncstate):

Another one of those list sites has this list of the top small towns/cities in North Carolina.

Heated words were exchanged at Tuesday night’s Greensboro City Council meeting over nonprofit salaries.

You can soon get your gourmet PB&J fix in downtown Greensboro.

Greensboro’s economic development director is retiring.

The City of Raleigh wants to buy the Dorothea Dix campus from the state.

The Stanley Furniture plant in Graham County is closing, making western North Carolina’s most jobless county even more jobless.

Downtown Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books gets good marks from UNCG’s Carolinian for being student and young people friendly.

A downtown Winston-Salem daycare opened with incentives is now seeking more help from city leaders to continue to operate.

Carrboro may ban drive-throughs throughout the entire town.

Wilmington has a long way to go to be more business friendly, according to a study.

The State of North Carolina expects to have its unemployment insurance debt paid off by the end of next year.

Buncombe County sheriff’s office is moving.

Not just one but two hotels will be coming to the old BB&T property in Asheville.

North Carolina has been named the 10th most dangerous state for cyclists by the publication Insurance Business America.

Why the state of North Carolina may regret making so many of its employees exempt from the State Personnel Act.

The Durham Bulls stadium got a 20 million dollar makeover in the offseason.

Raleigh police have ordered three cars, each from one of the Big Three automakers, and are testing them to decide which car will replace the entire fleet.

How one apartment management firm in Raleigh is seeing the benefit of investing in non-luxury apartments.

The blowout bar trend has made it to Charlotte.

And finally, the NC Department of Public Instruction has released the annual school crime and safety report, which also includes the dropout rate for all North Carolina public schools.

My car parked. Will it be parked more because of potential new VMT?

My car parked. Will it be parked more because of a potential new VMT?

Yesterday I linked to an article that mentioned that the NC DOT has decided to study the implementation of a Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT). I thought it was an April Fools joke. I was wrong. For those of you out of the loop, this is a tax collected by a meter either placed on your car or along roadways to register how many miles you drive. You then pay taxes based on how much you drive. This would replace the fuel tax that we currently pay at the pump and raise more money for transportation needs.

While this has become the preferred method of taxing drivers of many of my urbanist and good governance friends, I’m concerned that we as a state just aren’t quite ready to make the switch. First of all, we don’t have reasonable alternatives to driving in 90% of the state. The kinds of folks who would avoid this tax by not driving tend to be affluent or at least not burdened by having an extra or higher tax, work at home, or within walking distance from their jobs. Yet, many of the jobs that pay low, such as restaurants and warehouses, as well as  many offices that pay a normal wage and require daily attendance, require a significant drive. While gas prices would drop under this plan, the taxes would be shifted and possibly increase under this plan, causing pain to even those who are somewhat well off, but not able to absorb a higher tax bill.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, if all that new tax money went to creating and strengthening transit, putting in more sidewalks and even to incentives for offices and other non-industrial grade businesses to move into easily walkable areas, so that people don’t have to drive as much. I however, don’t trust the state government in its current iteration to funnel the money properly. The article alludes to the state government considering this tax only because we are in budget shortfall for our current vehicle-related tax methods. Also, we are just adjusting to toll roads, and that’s in the populous and relatively affluent cities of the state. This tax could essentially turn every road into a toll road, in a time where salaries and wages are not keeping pace with our expenses. Things could change, as this measure is studied and tested, but right now, if it were implemented today, I believe it would be an extra burden.

And with that, today’s news:

Wake County Schools has filed suit to recover 1 million dollars of bond money from Wake County.

The state feels confident that the food stamp backlog is behind them. Guilford’s DSS named an interim director and also criticized the state for sending mixed messages about whether or not the backlog is really gone.

The City of Greensboro will not appeal to the state utilities commission to get their tree ordinance back. Everything else that happened last night can be found by searching for #gsopol on Twitter.

What’s going on in the Triad area restaurant and food scene.

Suggestions on how High Point can remain an events center year-round.

Wilmington residents are picketing for higher firefighter and police salaries.

Managers at the Hamilton Forest owned by N.C. State University may have violated the Clean Water Act.

A Southern Season is still planning to come to Charlotte.

The DOT has hired a firm to count ballots placed in a vote to determine whether or not to build noise walls on Charlotte’s I-277.

UNCG’s new pedestrian tunnel under the railroad bridge has opened. UNC-Chapel Hill has opened a new imaging research building.

Citizens and police assess Fayetteville’s Massey Hill Neighborhood, which as soon as ten years ago was ground zero for major crime activity.

Durham’s Parkwood Volunteer Fire Department has fired its chief and is restructuring as it’s been threatened with budget cuts.

Cumberland County Schools will eliminate 80 jobs next year, 50 of those teaching. New Hanover County Schools has established its teacher tenure process.

Durham’s Human Relations Commission is nearing the end of its investigation into Durham police tactics.

A former Durham school board member has suspended his legal action after losing in a runoff election, that has raised questions about the election process for school board leaders.

Harnett County Commissioners have stopped their legal action against a local shooting range.

If statewide film incentives are not increased, it may cause the loss of 4,000 jobs, according to a recent study.

Brunswick County Schools may change their daily start times for students.

A Wilmington man will be helping plant the White House Kitchen Garden.

And finally, North Carolina natives, let us be proud of how we talk.


Placebook: Upside Down City

upside down-April FoolsSo this is what I woke up to this morning. Happy April Fools right? The city is upside down!!!!

You know I’m kidding, but I want to be serious for a moment. There are a lot of cities that are upside down financially, spiritually and even physically. Physically, they look more fallen in, but that is still bad. Things are out of order. There are poverty and per capita income numbers that you wish were jokes, but they aren’t. Schools are failing. Youth of age are leaving. Companies aren’t coming any more and the ones that were there are shutting down. People have sicknesses that just don’t happen in cities that are right-side up.

Can these cities be turned right side up? Only time will tell. But today, despite all the jokes and tricks, I’m going to have faith in all the upside down cities.

And now, your very real news:

Greensboro City Council meets tonight at 5:30. More details here.

The Guilford County Department of Social Service director resigned, after fixing a backlog of food stamp applications that almost cost the state 88 million in federal money. However, there were other pieces of this backlog that weren’t fixed that may cost the state the funds after all.

The DOT is considering taxing North Carolina drivers by miles driven. It could raise the DOT $465 million.

A Moral Monday town hall meeting was held in Eden over the coal ash spill.

A meeting yesterday between Greensboro City Council officials and the civil rights museum was heated.

The infamous Greensboro billboard has struck again, this time making fun of Charlotte’s ex mayor.

Moving downtown? how about throwing a parade like this company did in Winston-Salem.

The latest quasi-secret “Project”? Project Foresight, which will be somewhere between High Point and Kernersville and be some sort of warehouse.

All of us baseball fans greeted Opening Day with a lively play ball yesterday; when the Greensboro Grasshoppers step to the mound on Thursday, it will be their tenth season in their downtown ballpark.

Winston-Salem City Council has decided to consider putting a $175 million bond issue on the ballot in the fall. They will also vote on April 7 about the funding arrangement between them and their minor-league baseball team, the Dash.

Charlotte City Council has postponed their vote to replace the mayor.

The EPA has slammed the DENR over the terms of their deal for Duke Energy to settle the Dan River coal ash spill.

Although approved by city leaders, the I-26 connector in Asheville has not been funded yet. One possible scenario.

Asheville City Schools are interviewing finalists for their next superintendent.

Five reasons that Wilmington may not have outlet malls.

What Wilmington officials are doing to curb gang violence.

The Wilmington Housing Authority will miss a $1.15 million dollar deadline to pay on a piece of land that has languished in their care for years.

The Fayetteville City Council has ordered sewer access  expanded by 100 homes. Cumberland County officials are asking for help from those with arsenic in their septic systems to develop a solution.

A food truck in Lumber Bridge must move, since he is on state property. However, it’s also the busiest intersection in the town.

And finally, downtown Raleigh restaurants are upset that a weekly food truck rodeo is not taking a break for Mother’s Day.


Placebook: Oh Lamb, Where Are You?

Best Lamb Ever


So for what it’s worth, March is ending like a lamb. The lights are on and the wind is a warm wind. There’s no snow on the ground and the snow that shows up is snow flurries. Wind in March is normal. The trees are blooming and it’s supposed to be 81 in two days. Which will be in April, but that’s beside the point. I want to thank you again for another wonderful month of Placebook’s Daily News. If you are seeing this on the website, be sure to subscribe to the email. If this is the email, thanks for reading and please forward and share with your friends.  And now, the news:

Greensboro City Council members will decide on Tuesday whether or not to go forward on the loan of funds to the International Civil Rights Museum and Center. The rest of Tuesday night’s city council agenda.

Charlotte will host the first Tiny House Convention this coming weekend.

North Carolina had more job losses than any state in February.

Charlotte City Council will meet to determine who will be appointed mayor today.

Decent pay and decent housing is a struggle in Asheville, but some folks are finding a way to build homes , authors have a few presses that can publish their books and people have a new place to fix their bikes. Could a land trust be part of the solution for housing and land use in Asheville?

The latest in the race for Buncombe County District Attorney.

Lowes Foods has started buying more food from local farmers.

The Rockingham County Courthouse will now accept credit and debit cards.

Kernersville is looking at property for a new library.

How Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools are facing their budget challenges for the upcoming year.

The Guilford County food stamp backlog has dropped dramatically, thanks to state workers working overtime over the weekend to fix it. If they hadn’t, 88 million dollars for the program would have been lost.

Greensboro’s Old J.C. Price school demolition has started.

Concerns are rising about unaffiliated voters, and attorneys fighting voter ID in court are accusing the state of withholding documents.

Panhandlers may be uncomfortable, but they only expose reality, according to this News and Record editorial.

The Eastern end of the Mountains to Sea trail is set to be developed this year.

Environmentalists have joined the opposition to development on the Guilford County prison farm.

Duke Energy is trying to keep its records away from the public.

The NC Zoo turns 40 this year and there will be two new exhibits to celebrate.

Popular and legendary Raleigh bar Fat Daddy’s closed this weekend.

The News and Observer calls for more parks in Raleigh amidst the new skyscrapers.

What businesses are opening and expanding in the Durham area.

Durham will continue to help run the Carolina Theater in downtown Durham, but not the Parkwood Volunteer Fire Department.

Cumberland County Manager James Martin retires today after 44 years in local government and 13 as manager.

Wilmington’s added several fashion trucks to their food trucks.

Most of Wilmington’s crime happens within a mile of public housing complexes, prompting residents to ask how to know a neighborhood is safe.

And finally, Wilmington will remove a pump station that looks like a bad mashup of Oscar the Grouch and R2-D2.


Placebook: What I Learned when the Piedmont Came Together

I like to think that I’m the only one in the room or at least the local blogosphere writing the way I write and caring the way I do about what makes a city great. I wrestle all the time with how to name the industry I work in, how to portray how I live my life and to tell my city and its various civic and government organizations how they can help make things better. Yet, days like yesterday reminded me that I am nowhere near along in my pursuit. Between having some of my out-of-town urbanist friends here (and sharing the stage with one), to seeing the end of an innovative grant, to observing all three major city mayors and a few key planning officials making serious statements about changes, I felt really good after yesterday’s Piedmont Together summit. Also, if you want more recaps, information and to view presentations from yesterday, go here.

Yet, it also helps me see what I can continue to do. I hope that these weekday emails, as well as social media postings, articles and my speaking and longform writing can help maintain momentum around here to keep making things better, for transit, for housing, for food and especially for jobs and our economy. I will continue to do what I can, but realize all I have is my story and the ability to share stories and assist with implementation efforts. I can create visions and plans too, but someone has to listen and all hands have to be on deck to implement.

And now the news to start your weekend:

NCSU and NCCU join the many colleges and universities that have started food banks for students on campus.

According to the Census numbers from 2012-2013, all 12 metro areas are growing faster than the country as a whole, and it’s almost all from migration from our rural towns.

Jude Ned Mangum will serve as Wake County’s interim DA.

Charlotte’s mayor could pin all his troubles on commercial real estate developers.

The website Movoto now has its “need-to-know” list for those moving to Winston-Salem and it’s also very positive.

The Guilford School Board voted to waive make-up days, reboot the Amplify tablet program and to purchase the former Catholic school in High Point for its The Academy at High Point Central.

The Guilford County commissioners also voted last night to change how they will fund the school system, tying the base budget to property taxes and numbers of students in the system. They will adopt next year’s school budget in the coming months.

The ACC Tournament will be in Greensboro in 2015 and 2020 and Charlotte in 2019.

It is unknown when the new downtown Greensboro hotels will start construction.

The PTI Airport bridge project is on schedule, but won’t begin until 2016. The state interviewed potential builders this week.

Greensboro City Council met in closed session to discuss what’s next for the tree-trimming law, part of which was struck down by the State Utilities Commission.

Guilford County has until Monday to fix its food stamp application backlog or else it will lose $88 million in federal money for administrative support for the program.

The Greensboro City Attorney, at the request of a resident, has found that it is in fact legal for the city to ban saggy pants on buses, and at bus stops, including the Depot.

State agencies have been asked by the governor to cut budgets again.

Eighteen North Carolina rural municipalities have won infrastructure grants from the NC Rural Infrastructure Authority.

Wake County Schools shifts how it does school assignments.

Raleigh businesses want the city to rewrite its new sign rules.

Fayetteville and Cumberland County leaders want to expand public transit throughout the whole county.

Half of Cumberland County’s teachers have rejected the new state teaching contract.

The NC Port Authority has a new executive director.

New Hanover County leaders are set to review a report on the economy and jobs in their region.

A Wilmington fire station gets a new rain garden.

Greenville’s homeless shelter is expanding.

Greenville is also considering a Human Relations Commission.

Morrisville Town Council has voted to fund improvements to its Northwest Park. Morrisville’s transportation commission is asking for more road funding. Apex will open its nature park on Saturday.

Cary’s Creative Reuse Center is outgrowing its space.

Some of the voter registration challenges brought forward by Buncombe County citizens groups are moving forward.

UNC-Asheville and Shaw University are named as  least valuable colleges by The Atlantic.

And finally, the Charlotte city manager and executive staff wants the public to know that no other officials engage in “pay-to-play” tactics.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. Via the Charlotte Observer.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. Via the Charlotte Observer.

Normally, the types of people and things that I report about don’t make front page news. Well, sometimes in the News and Record, but I digress.

And this is the point where I will stop and shamelessly plug my Twitter and Instagram accounts @blackurbanist, where you can find live tweets and photos from today’s Piedmont Together seminar. I’m on the program again, playing myself, well, the version that advocates for transit and writes Placebook’s Daily News every weekday just for you. If you love reading this and keep missing it because it doesn’t show up on social media often enough, subscribe to our email.

Meanwhile, back to the subject at hand. Chicago and sometimes New York and Cleveland get attention for big time city bribes and corruption deals. You know the kind, the kind profiled in American Hustle. Charlotte gets attention for being slow and southern. Well, it used to. Now, along with light rail and snarling traffic, IKEA,  pro teams, major consumer financial operations and lots of expensive apartments and homes, Charlotte has a disgraced mayor.

So does that make us, us meaning the South, equal? Probably not. When Atlanta had its issues over the snow, people just laughed. However, when many of our leaders begin to show the same propensities, do we on the home front just sit back and scoff and laugh? Or do we highlight the people, on the ground and many times still in the city halls, the county courthouses and other government and office buildings that just know to do the right thing.

Think on this issue, but remember, do right by your community, always. The rest of the news:

On this list, Rocky Mount is one of the nation’s smallest dangerous cities.

Someone may get kicked off Downtown Greensboro, Inc.’s board.

More on Greensboro’s Gate City Boulevard’s new zoning restrictions.

What Governor McCrory was like in college.

North Carolina’s part of the federal transportation fund could dry up this summer.

The City of High Point is looking to improve the High Point Theater.

The Guilford County School Board may vote tonight on purchasing a former Catholic school to expand one of its magnet high school programs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents have several new school options for their children next fall.

Buncombe, Henderson and Jackson County lead all population growth in Western North Carolina in the past three years.

Asheville is one of USA Today’s six small cities with an awesome food scene.

The City of Fayetteville has forced the auction of the Prince Charles Hotel.

New apartments in Wilmington are expected to ease the demand for multi-family spaces in the city.

And finally, what should North Carolina’s new slogan be?


Placebook: The Optimistic Southerner


Today I ran across an article that captured the essence of why I’m out here writing this page, and developing an even bigger platform. Essentially, to tell the story of the citified Southerner.  Like these guys and also these guys, I’m trying to tell a different, but valid story. Of the Southerners we all know. The Southerners that are usually black or white, but increasingly Hispanic or Asian, from an Arabic country or the jungles of Vietnam. The Southerners that because they   open their mouths and sprout out intelligent things through the twang are an object of shock and awe. The Southerners that consume sushi one night and then fried chicken or bone-in fried fish with their hands the next.  And of course, we defy all stereotypes, including the ones I mentioned here.

I’m linking to this article one more time just to make sure you pay attention. And for those of you who are fellow citified or even just dignified on the farm Southerners, be proud. And as our friend Killer Mike says on another part of that very page, give back to your community. And in my special way of giving back, I give you the news:

There will be a DuckHead store in downtown Greensboro, along with the relocated corporate headquarters of Prospect Brands.

An outside law firm has determined that the $750,000 loan from the City of Greensboro to the International Civil Rights Museum and Center was valid despite the lack of signature on the contract.

The Greensboro City Council has formed a committee on East Greensboro. The meetings are open to the public and the next one will be held at 4 p.m. on April 17th.

This News and Observer editorial on outgoing Raleigh planning director Mitchell Silver captures perfectly what many of us feel about him moving up and us losing him as a leader in planning in the state. Also nice, these editorials on the RDU Airport land and the Raleigh mayor’s speechthat focused on transit and transportation.

Beloved Raleigh barbecue joint Clyde Coopers will reopen with some of its original touches right around the corner, while making way for a new mixed-used development in downtown Raleigh.

New apartments are planned on South Elm-Eugene Street in Greensboro, near the I-85 interchange.

A report has confirmed that Wilmington’s roads are in bad shape. However a food truck rodeo was successful and raised money for local nonprofits, and a troubled housing community is improving.

Cumberland County Commissioners are working on a plan for the arsenic-tainted wells in one community.

The Lumbee Tribal Council is questioning a loan to purchase the  North Carolina Indian Cultural Center and only has two weeks to make a decision before the opportunity is given to the general public to purchase.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has revealed their teacher tenure plan. Wake County Schools will hold off on introducing its behavior grade system.

Charlotte-area residents spend over 40 hours in traffic a year according to a study commissioned by an organization that supports highway construction. This same organization presented statewide figures on cost savings from repaired roads and pushed for more road projects statewide.

Charlotte home prices have also increased by 7.2% in January.

The Asheville City Council has approved the I-26 connector route. In addition, the City of Asheville is set to explain all the new rules for zoning and planning along Haywood Road, which includes an area dedicated to live-work spaces and smaller setbacks to the road for new buildings. Water rates may also go up in Asheville.

Popular Asheville eatery White Duck Taco will open it’s second location later this spring. The Asheville VA will also open more clinics.

Governor McCrory has requested federal storm recovery money.

And finally, not really urbanist related, but the Durham Bulls will be dressed up as R2-D2 for their May 4th game. And the Winston-Salem Dash has been purchased by the owners of the Chicago White Sox, which will also ensure the lease of the ballpark from the City of Winston-Salem is extended and allows the ballpark to not draw on taxpayer funds for maintenance.



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