by Joe Schwartz
A letter distributed by 61 members of the historically black Northside Neighborhood in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, adjacent to the under-construction 10-story mixed-use condominium complex dubbed Greenbridge, urges residents to avoid giving money or support to any Greenbridge Developments venture.
The letter, placed as an ad in Sunday's edition of the Chapel Hill News, claims the development will ruin the neighborhood.
"Greenbridge is being promoted as a new frontier in environmental sustainability, but the vast majority of the energy used by these condominiums will come from coal and other outside sources. A building that destroys the historic community around it is not sustainable by any measure," it reads.
The project at 601 W. Rosemary Street has received national attention for its environmentally friendly concept, but has been controversial from the get-go, with posters distributed around town claiming, "Greenbridge is racist," and assertions that the expensive units will create gentrification.
Earlier this month someone called in a bomb threat to the project, and graffiti has also been prevalent. Tim Toben, a managing partner in Greenbridge Developments, wrote a column just after the bomb threat for both the Chapel Hill News and Chapel Hill Herald defending the project. He argues that the environmental benefits and the low-cost of some units are signs of progress.
Here's the full text of Sunday' s ad:
To prospective buyers of Greenbridge condominiums:
For many months, the shadows of two cranes have hung over the historically African-American Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. These cranes are part of the Greenbridge Condominium development at 601 W. Rosemary St., a luxury housing project of unprecedented size for our small town.
Greenbridge condominiums will fundamentally change the character of our neighborhood. We are concerned that luxury condominiums such as these will raise property taxes and rent for neighbors already stretched thin by the economic recession. In addition to keeping older residents awake at night, the development has already displaced one beloved African-American-owned enterprise and has cost businesses like Knott’s Funeral Home thousands of dollars in destroyed property and lost sales. A slick PR campaign has glossed over Northside residents’ concerns, and Greenbridge has refused to meet neighbors’ demands that might mitigate the effects of the development.
Greenbridge is being promoted as a new frontier in environmental sustainability, but the vast majority of the energy used by these condominiums will come from coal and other outside sources. A building that destroys the historic community around it is not sustainable by any measure. Ultimately, it is less resource- and energy-intensive to buy and make changes to an older house than to build an entire new one, particularly when that new housing involves a $1,459,000 price tag.
Future condominium owners will be moving into a building unwanted and unwelcomed by Northside residents, some of whom are already facing threats of foreclosure or eviction. We feel it is irresponsible to construct luxury housing in the midst of a recession, with the possibility that such housing will increase the economic pressures of rent and property taxes on Northside families.
For these reasons, as Northside residents, with the goal of preventing similar developments from being built in the future, we ask that you do not give your money to any present or future Greenbridge Developments project.
the following concerned residents of Northside:
Maura Burnett, Shannon Saunders, Dorcas Saunders, Cassandra Cainer, Megan Somerday, Alex Henderson, Angela Vargas, Amanda Jenkins, Heath Britiar, Jamellena Riggsbee, Nicole Garland, Ellen Harton, Vickie Weaver, Ellen Weaver, Shannon Weaver, Sheryl Weaver, Randel Riggsbee, Debra Griffin, India Minor, Gayle Baldwin, Chelsea Flowers, Wanda Halman, Elizabeth Albiston, Davin Burnette, Steven Davidson, Mike Swofford, Jr., Michael Scott, Trude Mclaren, Kim Fearrington, Linda Fearrington, Lena Paylor, H.J. Edwards, Max Bushell, Sarah Myers, Brenda Jackson, Steven Purefoy, Wayne Purefoy, Carol P. Brooks, Doris H. Cotton, Jennette L. Farrington, Jewel Francis, Louise Felix, Jessica Willis, Coretta Sharpless, Joey Baldwin, Valenda Baldwin, Timmeshia Arrington, Nancy Fearrington, Kevin Wilson, Deneara E. Worthy, Vilita Worthy, Joanna Bledsoe, Lakia Taylor, Antonika Edwards, Devon Paylor, Krystal Neal, Tyqwan Alston Shantina Alston, Kevin Noel, Montez Edwards, Carlos Gould