A Glenwood Story

By Daniel Wirtheim, Features Editor

Published Apr. 15, 2015

It started in 1976, when Bulent Bediz bought his first home in the Glenwood neighborhood, 808 Lexington Avenue. It was a fixer-upper and a relic of the past, but Bediz is a graduate of UNCG’s Architecture department, and was a professor for a brief amount of time, so had the wherewithal to renovate the home. It didn’t stop there.

As many of Bediz’s original neighbors left due to old age or sickness, he began buying their houses in fear of letting absentee landlords further deteriorate the properties. As a growing crime-rate came to define Glenwood, Bediz saw a role for himself as Glenwood’s renaissance man, fighting to preserve the neighborhood as a safe place for artists and diversity.

“Instead of moving out, I took on this cancer by buying up properties adjacent to my house and down the block, and renovating them,” wrote Bediz, “paying particular attention to preserving their period character as I brought them to modern times.”

In a 1989 News & Record article, titled “Glenwood mixes it up,” Glenwood is outlined as a place for artistic persons, with cheap property value and diverse neighbors. Andrew Martin, a painter, sculptor and former professor of Bediz, lived in a home directly across from him at the time. Martin was drawn to the neighborhood by it’s cheap, yet well designed property.

“The homes were situated right to allow for greater light penetration,” said Martin to News & Record reporter Tom Steadman. “They have that perfect lighting.”

Bediz expanded upon the features of the Glenwood homes that were built from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, receiving accolades for his efforts. He enlisted the help of UNCG students to refurbish the houses. He recycled materials when he could. He used blackboards from a school built in the 1800’s as floorboards. The Greensboro Preservation exchange recognized Bediz for his outstanding achievement’s in Glenwood. He continued accumulating properties, at one point owning as many as 70 houses in the Glenwood neighborhood.

“I didn’t do this for the money. This is not what makes money,” said Bediz in a 2008 interview with The Carolinian. “It just sort of mushroomed to a lot of houses. I didn’t plan it.”

Just as Bediz was reaching what he thought was going to be a “renaissance,” of the Glenwood neighborhood, the 2008 economic crisis happened.

Bediz couldn’t get a loan. His homes were being threatened with demolition by the city; he couldn’t work on his homes. His fantastic vision was beginning to look more like a house of cards until it finally collapsed when Bediz filed bankruptcy in Jan. 2008.

While he was able to hold on to the majority of his properties, he was left on shaky financial grounding. He spoke of a new threat to his vision of a community of artists. Suddenly, at a 2009 meeting of the UNCG Board of Trustees Business Affairs Committee, it was unveiled that Bediz was not the only one with a vision for Glenwood.

Story continued in Apr. 22 edition

Categories: daniel wirtheim, Features

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