Families move into Genesis Gardens, have hope for next steps

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A neighborhood that has felt left behind at times is finally feeling optimistic.

Vacant houses and vacant lots have been an eyesore for parts of the East Bessemer Avenue community in Greensboro.

But now that families are moving into Genesis Gardens -- a new affordable housing apartment development -- there is hope that this will be the beginning of other efforts to revamp the community.

“There were vacant houses, vacant lots and there was just no clear cut direction, but now you can see the positivity of what we've done here and the sense of pride, that people that I know in the community are saying, 'Man that sure does look good,'” developer Theodore Stevens Jr. said.

People who live in the neighborhood say more needs to be done to attract businesses and public facilities.

“We don’t have a park. We have a lot of kids in this community and they have nowhere to go,” groundskeeper and head of maintenance James Cole said.

Oscar Reid Jr. moved into the apartment building this month.

He says he was both encouraged and disappointed in some ways.

“The area that I came from, everything was almost at your fingertips and I don’t see that here,” he said. “Hopefully, this will be a good start.”

Overall, people are thankful for the housing development and believe this is an example that these projects can be done in areas that may not be as financially lucrative.

Stevens, who partnered with the City of Greensboro on the project, says it will take more of his colleagues willing to step in.

“And you have to be willing to spend some of your money, you can’t wait to get grants or tax credits or those things,” he said.

Stevens, who is a pastor at nearby Genesis Baptist Church, believes undertaking this kind of project is based on a Biblical responsibility.

As of May 22, 10 families have moved in with two more planning to move into the building.

Stevens’ company, Trinity Consulting and Development, LLC, is planning to start a similar project on Ball Street in Greensboro.