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South Elm St. development still “in the works” downtown

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Empty fields and temporary development signs may look like the South Elm Street project in Greensboro is at a stand-still, but city leaders say the project is still in-the-works.

South Elm is a developing hub for specialty shops and restaurants, and they are getting closer to revitalization of the 12-acre city-owned plot south of Lee Street.

The South Elm Development Group out of Durham says they are about two-thirds of the way done with the master development plan. City leaders are hoping that plan will be finalized by the end of November or December.

William Clayton helped open the clothing store Civic Threads about a year ago on South Elm. He says right now business is good, but he knows it could become great.

"This spot has enormous amounts of potential. We're hoping that us being here, especially on this side of the tracks, we can help usher in a new revitalization of Greensboro," said Clayton.

As nearby neighborhoods like Southside and Old Asheboro thrive with new development, Clayton says expanding downtown past Lee Street to Bragg Street is another way to attract consumers to downtown.

"Revitalizing South Elm Street and making it something bigger, encouraging new businesses to start here and plant here, can do nothing but help downtown as a whole," said Clayton.

Katie Harris and her daughter, Tisa, each live near downtown. They are both excited to hear that the South Elm project is progressing.

"I  would like to see more clothing stores and more eating places, being that I like to eat!" Tisa laughed.

Katie added, "I would love to see more museum type features where people can go in and see the history of Greensboro."

Clayton says right now, there is a distinct divide between South Elm and the rest of downtown.

"It'll bring people past the tracks. If you're sitting down on that side of the railroad tracks, you can't really see down where we are," said Clayton.

This expansion downtown is a multi-million dollar endeavor. Plans online at outline the possibility for a hotel, plenty of retail space, new apartment residential areas, and even two parking decks.

"Definitely if they're gonna do it, expand the parking! Make it feasible for everybody," said Katie.

Planning had some hiccups when the city first started developing the land and found contaminants which the EPA called "low-risk." The city has used grant money to re-mediate the space.

Leaders say they will host public meetings as development finalizes.

"It needs that boom, it needs that boost," pointed out Clayton. They're hoping the temporary signs will soon be replaced with permanent infrastructure and a cornerstone for downtown growth.