Company says it will clean up overgrown future Village at Friendly site in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A lot on Friendly Avenue may be the future site of a Greensboro shopping center, but right now, the city says it's a nuisance.

The property has sat empty for years as the land passed from owner to owner, despite promises of development into the Village at Friendly.

The city has ordered the owners of the empty lot on the corner of Friendly Avenue and Hobbs Road to clean it up. The city says downed trees, piles of trash and mosquitoes are visible problems.

"I definitely think it needs to be cleaned up," Amy Quintana said. Her daughter goes to preschool at church next to the empty lot.

"When you have a lot of overgrowth you have insects, you have snakes, all that nasty stuff that you don't want around your children," said Crystal Osborne, another parent.

The city ordered the property owners to spruce up the lots by Monday, calling them a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Atlanta-based company Halpern Enterprises owns the property. The company's president, Bill Brown, talked to FOX8 by email.

"We apologize for the condition of the property as this is a mistake on our part and we will have it fixed," Brown said. "This is not the way Halpern Enterprises normally does business."

Community members say the overgrowth has become worse since the homes on the property were leveled last year.

"I've noticed it being grown up, and I've always wondered what in the world was happening with that lot," Osborne said.

Yellow signs ordered the clean up on the property have many people asking what's next.

"I think right now the unknown about if and when any development might start has been more of a backseat to the weeds starting to grow up," said Dan Basinger, the property manager of the First Lutheran Church next door.

Halpern Enterprises wants to turn the 6.5-acre lot into a retail center, with shops, restaurants and town homes.

But the project has remained stalled while they nail down tenants and the community's reaction is mixed.

"We have a wide variety of members that take different sides," Basinger said.

"I honestly think it depends on what they put there," Osborne said. "Retail yes, I think that could be a good option. I don't know about townhouses… I don't know how I feel about that."

"The more resources we have as parents to get things for our families, then I think that it's great," Quintana said.

One thing they can agree on: It's about time the lots get a makeover.

"Even if it's just cleaning it up and making it pretty, so it's a nicer area to look at," Osborne said.

The president of Halpern Enterprises told FOX8 the company plans to send a crew to clean up this week. If the company doesn't meet that Monday deadline for clean up, a code violation sign says the city has the right to step in, clean up and charge the company.

Halpern Enterprises have a start date for construction, but the company now hopes to open the retail center in late 2018.

"There is plenty going on to move the project forward, it’s just not visible to the public at this point," Brown said.