The Sedgefield community is concerned following the announcement that the Sedgefield Showgrounds is for sale and there are already development plans in place for the site.
A neighborhood meeting on Feb. 6 held by Affordable Housing Management of Greensboro at Celia Phelps Memorial Church, next to the Showgrounds, spelled out the plans. A handout at the meeting stated, “This development will have a positive economic impact on the neighborhood and city and will greatly assist the City of Greensboro’s goal of increasing the supply of quality affordable rental housing.”
The Showgrounds website, www.sedgefieldshowgrounds.com, contains the following letter:
“I am sure many of you have heard the rumor (and it is true) that we have engaged a real estate broker to explore options of selling the land,” wrote Martin F. Schlaeppi. “We think this valuable piece of property will get some attractive offers, but it will take some time to get zoning and other approvals necessary for a developer so we are pretty certain that we will have a full slate of shows next year (and maybe beyond).
“We were hoping that a buyer who would want to continue running horse shows would emerge, but while we have had some conversations with interested parties, no buyer has emerged to date. We do think that this facility has a lot of potential for a buyer who wants to operate and add other equestrian events, while owning a piece of property that will continue to appreciate.
“We have run these shows for a long time and Ashley, Johnny and I are just at the point in life where we want to transition to other things. However, the primary purpose of this note is to let everyone know there will be horse shows next year.”
AHM has requested rezoning of approximately 17.15 acres at 3701 and 3709-ZZ Groometown Road. The change would permit multi-family development, not to exceed 220 apartments with a density of 12.83 units per acre.
Phase one would consist of up to 110 apartments, expected to be completed by 2022. Phase 2 would consist of the remaining apartments and is expected to be completed by 2024. Two new access connections will be added on West Vandalia Road.
The zoning request was to go before the Greensboro Zoning Commission on Feb. 17, after the Jamestown Newsprint deadline. The company requested rezoning from County RS-40 (Residential single-family) and City R-3 (Residential Single Family) to CD-RM-18 (Conditional District – Residential Multi-family) with the condition that use was limited to 220 residential dwelling units. The majority of the site is located within Guilford County jurisdiction, not within Greensboro and annexation is expected. An earlier Greensboro Planning Board meeting approved the annexation request. Greensboro Planning Department staff also approved the rezoning request.
The request will go before the Greensboro City Council on March 17.
The entrance to the Showgrounds is off Vandalia Road and the property is across the street from a shopping center containing a grocery store, drug store, restaurants and other businesses. Hester Park is just down Vandalia from the entrance. It is located two miles from the Sedgefield Country Club clubhouse.
The property contains an equestrian showground and buildings.
A 2018 NCDOT traffic count on Groometown Road shows 10,500 vehicles pass the property per day.
Fox8 reported on neighborhood reactions following the meeting.
“Being that they’re a nonprofit company that is trying to develop this land, it’s almost a best-case scenario,” said Reverend Ellis Carson, pastor of the church next door where the meeting was held.
“People are probably the most valuable resource that a community can have, so having an organization that’s willing to come and develop housing for folks, especially when Greensboro has need for low to moderate-income housing,” he added, “I think it’s a great thing.”
Others would hate to lose the history of the Showgrounds.
“I really just hate to see something so historic and so pretty be torn down for apartments,” said Jeff Thomas. He is also concerned about the already overcrowded schools.
Kelly Wyrick is worried about increased congestion.
“There’s already a problem getting into the shopping center right here at the intersection. It’s only going to cause much more problems here at the intersection,” Wyrick told Fox8.
“We’re kind of a quiet little area back here in the edge of the city,” Thomas said. “It’s a nice area to live in. There’s not a lot of traffic here that affects us. There’s not a lot of noise, and we’re concerned about that.”
“Truly makes me sad and sick,” said Blair Kopf via facebook.
Wyrick believes the stables and Showgrounds qualify for historic landmark status and should have been designated as that already, having met Criteria A and C. She has started a petition, “Say No to Zoning Changes for the Sedgefield Showgrounds.”
“It was developed as part of Sedgefield and promoted along with the golf course for sporting living,” she said via Facebook. “The barn was built in 1927, adding a larger barn and purchasing more acreage in 1939. From 1939 into the 1950s, Sedgefield Hunt Club used the grounds to hunt out of.
“Sedgefield Stables developed into and remains a nationally recognized barn and horse lovers from all over the country come to Sedgefield Horse Stables and Showgrounds to show their horses and compete. The stables has a full schedule of shows and competitions for 2020.
“No one wants to see historic property that is still in use today, bringing people in from all over the country and revenue into the city, destroyed.”
The 85thAnnual Horse Show will be this year.
Wyrick noted Ebenezer Baptist Church used to be on the property and the cemetery of the church still remains. The property was threatened previously by the proposal of the Urban Loop.
By Carol Brooks
Photos by Carol Brooks