Residents want promised shopping center upgrades
Yasmine Regester | 8/2/2013, 11:10 a.m.
Residents in East Greensboro are opposing changes to a
proposed contract between an investment group and the city
regarding the sale of the Renaissance Shopping Center on
East Greensboro residents found out this week at the Citizens
for Economic and Environmental Justice (CEEJ) meeting that the
renovations they thought the Renaissance Shopping Center would
receive will only be applied to half of the center.
The draft contract proposal revealed that the investors will
give the space designated for the community in “as is”
The City of Greensboro recently voted on June 4 to sell the
Renaissance Shopping Center to a team of investors, the
Renaissance Center Group of Greensboro, brokered by former
Guilford County Commissioner and real estate broker Melvin
The initial agreement stated the center would be brought to
“vanilla box” standards, which includes the installation of
light fixtures, plumbing, electrical and dropped ceilings.
According to Alston, the center already possesses those
things; therefore the investors do not have to install those
“Vanilla box definition speaks to new construction. Not
renovations,” said Alston who added, “The developer doesn’t
know where the tenant wants the electrical outlets or any of
that. So it’s up to the tenant to fix the space the way they
Since the property has been dormant since 1998 residents are
concerned about the deterioration of the buildings and that
they will not have the funds to upgrade it.
Alston encouraged the citizens’ group to borrow money from the
city in order to pay for renovations, stressing the fact that
the leased space will eventually generate revenue for the
Residents continue to believe that Alston and RCG are putting
money ahead of the community’s concerns.
As part of the deal, space will be leased to a community non-
profit managed by representatives from the nine neighborhoods
surrounding the Renaissance Shopping Center. The newly created
non-profit, Empowering Neighborhoods CDC (Community
Development Corporation), has begun to create a mission
statement and plans of action to manage the space leased to
The contract proposal being drafted states that RCG will
transfer 20,000 sq. ft. of space to the community non-profit
that would then provide 10,000 sq. ft. for a Community Co-
operative Grocery Store. The remaining 10,000 sq. ft. is to be
divided among the community for various uses such as meeting
spaces or community enrichment classes. Currently, the only
tenant in the center is Family Dollar.
“We’re not looking for a retail center. We wanted a resource
center with a place we could buy food, a bank and a place that
could provide job services for the community,” said Goldie
Wells, president of the Citizens for Economic and
Residents from the surrounding neighborhoods collaborated to
start a Renaissance Co-op Committee to help develop a grocery
store in the shopping center.
“It is important that we get a grocery store for this
community. It’s not about a profit but about providing much-
needed resources to our community,” said Gayland Oliver, an