The State of Glenwood

Joseph Clark

News Staff Writer

Intersection of Union Street and Lexington Avenue, across from which several businesses used to operate. Now, it is a UNCG parking lot.

A stone’s throw from Spartan Village, ominous yellow foreclosure signs have gone up across Glenwood. Four are on the first block of Lexington Avenue alone. If one were to turn back time ten or so years, Glenwood was a very different place. Here’s what happened. 

In February of 2008, the city council of Greensboro, in tandem with The Greater Glenwood Neighborhood Association (GGNA), established a Community Plan. Among many objectives, such as an increased police presence and a renovation of public sidewalks, the Community Plan aimed to preserve the historic architecture of the Neighborhood and the promotion of greenspaces. The official city implementation plan stated the city would “work with developers through rezoning, site plan and subdivision processes to avoid unnecessary tear-downs and encourage adaptive re-use of existing structures.” 

When addressing new construction, the implementation guide labeled the idea “incompatible” with Glenwood. In this vein,  “GGNA rejected the proposed major development of apartments marketed to students, by Dinerstein Co. (Fall ’09)”. This is listed under the anachronistic housing section of the Glenwood Neighborhood plan

When, in 2010, UNCG showed interest in buying up Glenwood, amendments were made to the aforementioned Community Plan, and a “Memorandum of Understanding” between UNCG and the GGNC was conducted. It is important to note that these mediations were not made until demanded by the GGNC. Following the arrangements, the University broke ground on Spartan Village, promptly disregarding many of the finer points of the arrangement.

For example, according to section 28 of the agreement, the University was bound to preserve the historic heritage of the neighborhood and was allowed to build only in a select number of architectural styles. Disregarding this, the University built all of their buildings with modernist features. The University also disregarded the neighborhood plan produced by the city, and destroyed original granite curbing and brick gutters, in its construction of Spartan Village.

According to section 41, UNCG was required to have human-level street lamps which did not cause light pollution. Contrary to this stipulation, extremely tall lamp posts were put up. GGNA’s list of grievances such as these goes on and on. However, by no means was the University legally required to follow the stipulations, as they were the result of an agreement between Glenwood and UNCG’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) meetings. MOUs are not legally binding. 

In what may have been a genuine moment of compassion on Jan. 29, 2014, Chancellor Gilliam met with the community at 4 p.m. Some residents complained that this was an inconvenient time for those who had to work. Following this meeting, much of the communication between the neighborhood and the university has been handed off to different faculty members. The handling of community relations between Glenwood and UNCG has been covered in a 2016 article by “The Carolinian.”

The older residents of Glenwood tell of a time when trees lined the sidewalks and the front yards of homes, making the air cleaner and keeping the heat index lower. Through ice storms and natural decay, many of those old growth trees came down. In response, the neighbors of Glenwood applied for a “Neighborwoods” grant in 2005. This grant provided the funds for 150 trees. 80 were actually planted. Many along South Aycock and West Florida streets created a welcoming environment to the neighborhood. UNCG broke ground on the Student Recreation Center, now known as the Kaplan Center, in 2014, and in the process of its construction 52 trees were cut down, some as old as 100 years. This is not an isolated incident, as the University has a pattern of destroying natural fauna. In 1996, the University leveled two blocks of trees in order to build the McIver Street parking deck. More recently in the construction of the fountain, from which Fountainview dining hall gets its name, UNCG destroyed a grotto of 100 year old oak trees. Here is an article published on this deforestation at the time, which expresses the dismay felt by the loss of trees. Here also is a link to the 1995 master plan call number (found in the Jackson Library) which details the fountain construction: 

The issues facing Glenwood are both sensitive and complex—deserving of more time and further explanation than detailed here, and to some may be begged the “What is to be done?” question. Future articles on this topic are forthcoming. 

Joe Clark

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