Current Topic 1

In January, we saw major developments impacting housing and transportation in Winston-Salem.  

Cloverdale Apartments:     These historic apartments were built after World War II to house returning G.I.s and their new families, and over the decades became a beloved part of our community.  They’ve served generations of new residents, whether they were starting out in our city, in transition later in life, or looking for an affordable place to live that was also convenient to work, shopping, and transit.  If you have been receiving my updates for a while, you’ll recall that five years ago the owners of Cloverdale sought a rezoning which would have torn down both Cloverdale Apartments and its sister complex Ardmore Terrace, to be replaced by a new mixed-use development.  That was blocked, followed by an extended negotiation effort over options that could preserve part of the apartments’ architectural heritage and affordability.  After years of back-and-forth, unfortunately the owner group decided that it would simply demolish the apartments and replace them with market-rate apartments under the current zoning.  Under current market conditions for this area, that means leasing rates that are well beyond the means of current residents.  In keeping with that intent, last year they stopped renewing annual leases or admitting new tenants to the Cloverdale side.  The Ardmore Terrace side is still being actively leased with no announced changeover dates.  All remaining Cloverdale residents received notice in early January that they have until March to move.

The city has no legal authority to prevent these evictions or delay the process longer.  Because of that, I’ve focused efforts this month on helping tenants who are attempting to relocate on limited notice.  We held a drop-in information session for tenants, and provided contacts and information packets on other apartment complexes as well as other sources of help in relocating.  My Community Assistance Liaison, Vernetta DeVane, is continuing to respond to tenant inquiries and connect them with sources of assistance.  If you know of affordable rental opportunities in the Ardmore area or have other offers of assistance, please let Vernetta know at vernettad@cityofws.org

The sudden and (at the time) unexpected prospect of losing all these apartments was in 2015 what first alerted me to the spread of a housing affordability crisis in Winston-Salem beyond the immediate downtown area.  It has helped to elevate the urgent need to promote the creation of more workforce affordable housing in and around our center-city neighborhoods like Ardmore, if we are to remain a city open to all. 

Salem Parkway (formerly Business 40) re-opening:     The new Salem Parkway (formerly Business 40) will be opened to through traffic this weekend!  That is nearly six months ahead of the announced schedule.  There are still several months of work to be completed along the newly reopened road, including opening the two new pedestrian-only bridges, but that work will not involve any anticipated daytime closures.  You can read the official NC Dept. of Transportation news release here:  https://www.ncdot.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/2020/2020-01-31-salem-parkway-business-40-winston-salem-reopen.aspx  For ongoing information regarding the project, sign up for alerts at its webpage here:    www.business40nc.com

Pedestrian safety update:     At my encouragement, the city council agreed last year to make a new push for pedestrian safety citywide.  Among other steps, we authorized up to $2 million of bond funding for pedestrian safety projects, focusing on safer crossings at high-risk intersections.  The first list of priority projects has been adopted and work on several is waiting only on warmer weather.  I’m pleased to report that one example of a pedestrian safety project which had to be submitted to the state Dept. of Transportation for approval has just been completed.  That was the restriping of Jonestown Road where it passes over I-40 to allow for safer bike/pedestrian crossing.  It’s remarkable how many different hurdles a seemingly modest change on the roads can take to win approval—that one had been in the works for over a year.  As the weather turns to construction season this spring, I hope to have many more examples of progress to report.

 
Piedmont Regional Greenway and other bike/ped projects:      I’ve made a top priority for my city council time this year of pushing through the completion of as many bike/ped projects as possible from among the ones I’ve promised to support.  I’ll include in these updates regular reports on project status as there is progress to report.  For January, I’m pleased to note that easement acquisition for the Piedmont Regional Greenway first section has been authorized and funded.  That’s the section of greenway which will start at Salem Lake Park (Linville Road side) and run east to East Forsyth High School.  Cyclists in particular should love this connection when it’s completed.  I hope to be able to report significant progress soon on other projects.

Primary election for next Southwest Ward council member:    Please remember that voting to select your next Southwest Ward council member will begin soon.  Two candidates have filed, both of whom are running in the Democratic primary.  Early one-stop voting begins February 13, and primary voting will conclude on election day March 3.  Any resident of the Southwest Ward who is registered as a Democrat or unaffiliated voter, or who registers as such before the end of the primary early voting period, will be eligible to vote in this contest.  More details on early voting in Forsyth County can be found here:  https://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections/assets/documents/2020_EV_Schedule_Primary_Election_SB683.pdf 
The two candidates who filed for election to represent the Southwest Ward are Scott Andree Bowen and Kevin Mundy.  I encourage Southwest Ward voters to review both candidates prior to making a voting decision. 

Mr. Bowen’s website is https://www.scottandreebowen4ws.com/

Mr. Mundy’s website is https://kevin-mundy.com/

That’s my report for January.  You are welcome to contact me at danbesse.org@outlook.com.  Thanks!