Residents and leadership at downtown Greensboro’s Center Pointe high-rise condominium development voted this week to secede from downtown Greensboro and create their own district amid the city’s bustling urban center.
Citing dissatisfaction with noise levels, the dearth of on-street parking and the insistence of Greensboro citizens to actually use the nearby sidewalks, public spaces and businesses, Center Pointe residents said they had no choice but to disengage.
They voted for the measure 18-3, with two of the nay voters arguing that the measure didn’t go far enough.
“People who don’t even live downtown were starting to gather here at all hours of the night,” said Center Pointe spokesperson Kafka Davis. “It got worse after working hours. People were drinking alcohol, listening to music. Some of them were just standing around talking to each other on the street. I think the kids call it ‘hanging out.’ And the Greensboro Police Department simply refused to do anything about it.”
She added, “Center Pointe is committed to bringing upscale urban living to all of our residents,” referring to a statement on the development’s website. “How can we do that with so many common people walking around all the time? We never agreed to this.”
Center Pointe was built by Greensboro developer Roy Carroll in 2007 in the old Wachovia Building, which had sat dormant for 16 years. Carroll himself lives in the penthouse, on the 16th floor.
Details of the secession are still a little bit sketchy.
Residents would like to enact their own laws, elect their own representatives and govern themselves. And though the building is in the heart of the city, residents say they would prefer not to pay city taxes.
“What have they ever done for us?” asked resident Dolores Button, who lives on the 6th floor.
The secession means hiring a private police force to monitor the grounds and possibly turning one of the units into a school, though none of the residents have school-age children. Davis said there are plans to build a grocery store and a movie theater inside the building so that “residents will never have to leave if they don’t want to.”
Security measures include the digging of a giant moat around the building, which will not only cut off pedestrian traffic passing by the building, but will also have “symbolic value,” according to Davis.
Noise issues will be addressed by the lowering of a “cone of silence” over the entire building every evening at either 7 or 8 p.m.
“We’re not sure when we’ll lower the cone,” she said.
“We want people to have time to get back home after work, spa visits, shopping or golf.”
In addition, a “silence patrol” will be deployed on the grounds outside every evening to verbally remind people that others are trying to sleep in the building.
“We’ll probably hire some out-of-work librarians,” Davis said. “They really know how to shush people.”
Center Pointe residents who voted for secession say the current state of affairs in downtown Greensboro left them little choice.
“It was getting really bad,” said Constance Doright, of the 12th floor. “Every time I looked down from my terrace I saw people walking past the building on the sidewalk. Some of them were even looking up at our building. Once, one of them waved at me! Can you imagine?” “I could hear loud, jungle music at all hours of the night, sometimes even after I went to bed,” said Mc- Naughton Chichester, who lives on the 8th floor. “I don’t know why people feel the need to be out and about so late, sometimes even on weeknights. My mother always said, ‘Nothing good happens after 10 p.m.’” “The noise was terrible,” agreed Hortense Philpott. “I live all the way up on 13, and I could hear police sirens when they went past the building. I called the police and asked if they cold just use the lights when they passed by, and they told me they couldn’t do that. I said, ‘Why not? I pay my taxes.’ Then they hung up on me.
“The nerve!” she added. Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins, who lives in the 8th floor, has already begun a campaign to become mayor of the new entity. He said he does not see a conflict of interest.
“As mayor of Greensboro, I’ll be able to build bridges between the people of Center Pointe and the city that surrounds it,” he said. “My background as a developer makes me sensitive to the needs of others in developed communities. It’s a win-win.
“And everyone will be a stakeholder in that downtown performing arts center,” he added.
While the finer points of the secession are stil being debated, spokesperson Davis said the digging of the moat will begin April 1.