This article about a group of downtown Winston-Salem condos going up for auction at potential bargain basement prices was no big surprise. The project involved struck me as a little bit questionable right from the start. It’s sort of far-removed from the “action” and it’s one of those generic, tacky, cheap-looking (and overpriced) developments that you’re seeing downtown in almost all cities now, with a barely-concealed first floor garage and some pitiful and essentially useless street-level retail that’s included because of zoning ordinances rather than because anyone really wants it. These types of developments invariably look almost more like subsidized housing than the “luxury” units they’re supposed to be.
But get this:
Selling the remaining 17 residential units, along with one remaining commercial space, has become a sticking point that’s holding back future phases for the project, Furman said, which led to the idea for the auction.
Let me get this straight. They’re auctioning these things off for next to nothing so that they can move on to the next phase of the project and build even more of the bloody things even though they couldn’t even unload the first group?
Meanwhile, of course, actual downtown housing that people might actually buy has languished for two years across from the new downtown stadium (which itself displaced a whole downtown neighborhood), so that it can eventually be bulldozed to create parking lots or sports bars or whatever the hell is planned for that area.
Of course, building additional housing in the stadium area might have (gasp) involved working within the existing urban framework rather than wholesale clearance (and wouldn’t have resulted in government subsidies for the stadium). Even worse, the existing residents of that area were insufficiently upscale and white, which doesn’t look good when you’re doing “”Emerald City” planning, which is apparently the only kind that’s been considered in most inner-city areas for the past decade or so.
Right now, this (lack of) planing has resulted in Winston-Salem getting two blighted areas for the price of one: the one that was built and then abandoned for no good reason and the one that probably shouldn’t have been built to begin with.