What is the Downtown Greenway?
The Downtown Greenway, a collaborative project of the City of Greensboro and Action Greensboro, is a planned 4-mile walking and biking trail. This urban loop around the center city of downtown Greensboro is an economic development generator. The Greenway will enhance the urban landscape with a green space to promote fitness, connectedness, and well-being for our residents and visitors in an aesthetically pleasing environment. The Greenway loop provides a unique opportunity for Greensboro to have the only one of its kind in the state—and one of the few in the country. With an emphasis on public art, the Greenway will tell stories and engage trail users in a unique and authentic way. In addition, with the connections to the extensive existing and planned trails systems in both the city and the county, this loop will connect residents from all parts of the community and beyond.
The standard for the Greenway is a 12-foot wide paved path, either asphalt or concrete, depending on the environment; a 2-foot clear shoulder on either side; and a 5-foot zone on either side for site furnishings that include signage, lighting, benches, bike racks, drinking fountains, and trash receptacles.
What parts of the Downtown Greenway are open now?
A ¾-mile stretch of the 4-mile planned route is now open to the public. Five Points and Morehead Park are both located in the Southwest corner of the loop. This ½-mile section is just one block south of Gate City Boulevard between South Eugene Street and the Freeman Mill Road exit ramp and Gate City Boulevard. The section continues along the East side of Freeman Mill Road to Spring Garden Street. Another open section is along Smith Street between North Eugene and Spring Streets. In May 2014, we opened the Tradition cornerstone, Meeting Place, at the corner of Smith and Prescott Streets. In September 2016, we opened Woven Works Park, the Innovation Cornerstone at the corner of Murrow Boulevard and East Lindsay Street. Until the 4 mile loop is complete, a Downtown Greenway Detour Route is available for pedestrians and cyclists along the western segment. Click here for map of detour route. Click here for an Open Now map.
When is the Greenway open?
5:00 am–11:00 pm
Where can I park to access the Downtown Greenway?
There are two trailhead parking areas associated with Five Points and Morehead Park. Five Points has a parking area at South Eugene Street, and Morehead Park has a parking area at Spring Garden Street. To visit the Smith Street section, you can park along Eugene Street near the intersection of Battleground Avenue and Smith Street. There is parking along Prescott Street when you visit the Tradition Cornerstone site at Smith and Prescott Streets. The Innovation Cornerstone at Woven Works Park has parking along Cumberland Street on the east side of the site.
Where and when will construction of the next section take place?
Woven Works Park at the Innovation Cornerstone at the corner of Lindsay and Murrow was opened in September 2016.
The northern section along Eugene Street between Fisher Avenue and Smith Street will go under construction in October 2016 and the adjacent section of Fisher Avenue between Eugene and Greene Streets will begin construction in March 2017.
The southern section along Bragg Street between Eugene and MLK will begin construction in spring 2017.
The eastern section along Murrow Boulevard from Gate City Boulevard underneath Summit Avenue to the intersection of Fisher Avenue and Greene Street will be ready for construction to begin in Summer 2017.
The Tradition Cornerstone site at the corner of Smith and Prescott Streets was completed and opened in May 2014.
When will construction of the remaining sections take place?
The final section on the western side along the railroad corridor is expected to go under construction in 2018. Click here for more details.
What is the rationale behind the Downtown Greenway?
- Economic Development – Spurs development of nearby properties, enhances property values, and increases our tax base
- Connectivity – Connects people throughout Greensboro as well as 12 neighborhoods; 27,000 college students; and Greensboro’s present 80 miles of trails and greenways plus Greensboro’s planned network that will grow to 400 miles
- Health and wellness – Promotes exercise, which reduces obesity and related health problems
- Alternative transportation – Encourages people to walk or bicycle to and from downtown and its attractions, reducing auto/bus dependence and negative environmental impact
- Quality of life – The third of three quality-of-life resources (along with Center City Park and NewBridge Bank Ball Park) recommended in the 2001 Center City Master Plan to make Greensboro a more vibrant community, one appealing to young professionals
- Showcase for public art – Serves as a new venue for public art, enhancing Greensboro’s reputation as a creative city
- Uniqueness –Sets Greensboro apart as the only NC city, and one of few cities in the nation with a greenway encircling and defining its downtown.
Has the Downtown Greenway spurred Economic Development in surrounding areas?
Yes, it has! Private developers have invested more than $215 million in planned and completed projects along the Downtown Greenway that credit the project as part of their reason for making the investment. Based on national statistics, for every dollar we invest, we can expect a $5–$12 return in additional private investment, and we have exceeded that expectation. We anticipate additional projects to be announced in the coming years. Click here for a map with both planned and completed projects. Click here to read testimonials from local developers who have built their businesses adjacent to the Downtown Greenway.
What is the expected cost to plan and build the Downtown Greenway?
The projected Downtown Greenway cost is $36 million, including approximately $10 million in private donations and $26 million in public funds realized through both local bond referendums and state and federal funding.
Who has given to the Downtown Greenway?
So far, the private sector has raised over $10 million from foundations, corporations, businesses, civic groups, and individuals. To see a full list of donors, Click here. The public sector has committed close to $15 million with local bonds, and state and federal funding. We are seeking additional public funds to complete the project.
From where do we expect additional public funding?
Additional public funding will come from local, state, and/or federal funding sources. On November 8, 2016, Greensboro voters will have a chance to vote for 4 bonds, one of which is a Parks & Recreation bond that includes funding for the Downtown Greenway. A vote yes and passage of the bond referendum will dedicate the funds needed to complete the project. Other funding sources could include grants from the Parks & Recreation Trust Fund, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, federal transportation money, and Housing & Urban Development funds. We know that a successful private-sector effort had leveraged City funding that in turn has leveraged additional federal and state funds.
We believe a successful private-sector effort will leverage City funding that will, in turn, leverage additional federal and state funds.
What assurance is there that all of the Downtown Greenway will be built?
The City of Greensboro has many reasons to ensure this project’s completion:
- It is the City’s signature project to celebrate its Bicentennial.
- A $7 million bond referendum has already been approved by voters.
- The City has a vested interest in redevelopment projects happening along the southern leg.
- Phase 4 is the southern leg of the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway.
- The Downtown Greenway serves as the hub for the City’s entire system of trails.
- The project helps the City achieve needed transportation and safety improvements.
- Broad-based community support for the Greenway signals it as a priority.
The private sector also has many reasons to ensure this project is completed:
- It is the third of three key projects identified in the 2001 Center City Master Plan.
- It is the No. 1 priority in the 2010 strategic plan for the downtown area.
- Private-sector investments over $8 million have been committed to the project as of July 2013.
- Enthusiastic and broad-based community support exists for the Greenway.
Is there an alternate plan for the western segment of the Downtown Greenway if the rail line cannot be obtained?
We no longer need an alternate plan since Chandler Concrete Inc sold their concrete manufacturing plant at 1420 Mill Street and signed a restrictive covenant agreeing in October 2014 to cease use of the railroad track that runs adjacent to the property. Plans are moving forward for design of Greenway along rail line on Phase 4. In the meantime, a Downtown Greenway Detour Route is available for pedestrians and cyclists along the western segment.
Where did the idea for the Downtown Greenway originate?
- The 2001 Greensboro Center City Master Plan identified the Downtown Greenway as one of three major projects, including Center City Park and NewBridge Bank Ball Park.
- In 2005, Action Greensboro took 100 Greensboro leaders to Greenville, SC; the idea of a signature project like Greenville’s Falls Park & Reedy River Falls was enthusiastically supported. The Greenway was mentioned as a possible comparable project by the Signature Project Task Force.
- In 2006, the City completed a Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenway/Trails Master Plan, which included the Greenway as the hub of an envisioned 400 miles of Greensboro trails and greenways.
- The Greenway was selected in 2006 as the City’s signature Bicentennial project.
- The Greenway is the No. 1 priority in the 2010 Greensboro Downtown Economic Development Strategy.
Who is designing and constructing the Downtown Greenway?
Several designers have been involved in this process. The original concept was envisioned by Cooper Carry Center for Connective Architecture. Design work has been performed by Evans Engineering, Stantec, and Withers & Ravenel. Kimley-Horn has been contracted to complete the design of the final phase. Trail construction is proposed using the City’s bid process that awards contracts to the lowest bidder. Local contractors are used whenever possible. To date, S&S Building, Brooks Construction, Yates Construction, and Rival Construction—all local firms—have been awarded contracts for construction.
Click here for a full list of local businesses that have been used in the development of the Downtown Greenway.
Who is selecting the art for the Downtown Greenway?
A Public Art Selection Committee composed of art professionals and representatives from both the community and the City of Greensboro has responsibility for issuing requests for qualifications and proposals, reviewing proposals, and making recommendations for public art commissions. These recommendations are approved by the Greenway Oversight Committee and administered by both the Public Art Selection Committee and the Public Art Consultant for the project.
How is art selected for the Downtown Greenway? And why do we use both local and national artists?
We have a strong commitment to the local community and local artists. It might be helpful to explain our approach to public art along the Downtown Greenway and the process by which artists are selected.
We are installing four types of public art along the Greenway: artistic bike racks, neighborhood benches created by artists in collaboration with adjacent neighborhoods (9 total), special pieces funded by grants or donors that mark significant historical areas around the trail, and four large cornerstone pieces with themes around tradition, motion, innovation, and freedom.
For each piece, we issue a call to artists, and we use local and national contacts to reach as broad of an audience as possible. We strongly encourage local artists to submit their qualifications. The artistic benches are only available for bid to artists from NC. Local, state, and national artists may all apply for the four cornerstone pieces. Our goal with all public art along the Greenway is to balance ample opportunities for local artists with the opportunity to attract national artists that may bring new levels of expertise, artistic depth, and publicity for Greensboro.
As an example, the call to artists for the tradition cornerstone attracted 35 applicants; only one local artist submitted for the project. The Public Art Selection Panel carefully reviewed and considered all applicants; the local applicant in this case didn’t rise to the top when compared to others. They selected Harries + Heder from Cambridge, Massachusetts, because of their exceptional expertise in large-scale projects that relate to the surrounding landscape.
We have used local-, state-, and national-based artists in commissions for the Greenway in the first ½ mile section that we have built. So far, this is the local and statewide participation:
- Two artistic bike racks were created by local artist Erik Beerbower.
- Two artistic bike racks were created by Guilford College sculpture students, Will Kimmel and Kim Cannon.
- Over.Under.Pass. was created by local artists Scott Richardson and Jim Galluci (a significant commission funded by the National Endowment for the Arts).
- Grounded Here was created by Juan Logan of Chapel Hill. This piece has subsequently been donated to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club for their new facility adjacent to the Southeastern Greenway located just south of the Downtown Greenway.
- The two neighborhood benches were created by artists from Wilmington and Oriental: Ben Kastner & Toby Keeton and Gary Gresko. A third bench has been commissioned by Jeannette Brossart from Durham.
- Click here to see photos of all the public art installed on the Greenway.
In addition, the Motion Cornerstone Gateway of the Open Book was created by Rhode Island artist Brower Hatcher. He collaborated with local artist Frank Russell and students from the Warnersville neighborhood. Another local artist, Jeff Taylor, assisted Frank Russell in his work. Frank Russell has since collaborated with Brower on another project in California—so it’s pretty exciting that this contact was made and has opened some new doors for Frank’s work outside of our community. Artist Randy Walker from Minneapolis created Woven Works Park at the Innovation Cornerstone and collaborated with local artist Jim Gallucci and New Earth Designs on the site that opened in September 2016.
We have a huge talent pool in this community, and we always encourage local participation. We have a thoughtful process that places our exceptional local and regional talent as a top priority, while still expanding the breadth of artistic experience for our community with the four cornerstone pieces, which invite new concepts and approaches from a broader perspective.
How is land acquisition for the Downtown Greenway handled?
Much of the Downtown Greenway will be built on existing City-owned right-of-way property. In cases where additional property is needed, Action Greensboro and the City of Greensboro work together to identify needs, and then negotiate either donations or purchase of easements, rights of way, and land. To date, we have had success with donations of easements and with trading rights of way.
Who will own and maintain the Downtown Greenway once it is completed?
The City of Greensboro owns the Downtown Greenway, and the Parks & Recreation Department is responsible for its maintenance.
What about security on the Downtown Greenway?
Security and safety are important considerations as we plan, build, and use the Downtown Greenway.
We work closely with the Greensboro Police Department and utilize CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles. Surveillance cameras will be installed and monitored in areas that are not heavily trafficked. Experience and research show that greenways and urban trails are, in general, safe places. Greensboro’s own Parks & Recreation Department’s Trails Section has had no incidence of serious crimes since it began in 1997.
How will quality maintenance be ensured?
The City will maintain the Downtown Greenway. A key component of the private-sector Greenway Campaign is the establishment of an endowment to help provide funds to supplement ongoing maintenance and operation by the City.
Who will invest and manage the Downtown Greenway endowment funds?
The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro will both invest and manage the Downtown Greenway endowment funds.
How can I help support the Downtown Greenway?