(Frequently Asked Questions)
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, will enhance the urban landscape with a green space that will promote fitness, connectedness and well-being for our residents and visitors in an aesthetically pleasing environment. The loop itself 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 its emphasis on public art, the Greenway will tell stories and engage users of the trail in a unique and authentic way. In addition, with the connections to the extensive existing and planned trails systems in the city and the county, this loop will connect residents from all parts of the community and beyond.
The standard for the Downtown Greenway is a 12-foot wide paved path – either asphalt or concrete depending on the environment, a two-foot clear shoulder on either side, and a five-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?
Three miles of the 4-mile planned route are open now to the public: Five Points and Morehead Park, located in the Southwest corner of the loop, the continuation along Bragg Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the connection to Gate City Boulevard. In the north, the section along Fisher Avenue between Greene and Eugene streets, continuing on Eugene Street between Fisher Avenue and Smith Street and along Smith Street between Eugene and Prescott Streets are open. Click here for map.
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 (10 JC Price Lane) and Morehead Park has a parking area at Spring Garden Street (475 Spring Garden Street). Parking is also available along Prescott Street for the Meeting Place Tradition Cornerstone (801 West Smith Street) and along Cumberland Street for Woven Works Park Innovation Cornerstone (401 Cumberland Street).
Where and when will construction of the next section take place?
Murrow Boulevard from Gate City Boulevard to the intersection of Fisher Avenue and Greene Street is under construction was completed at the end of 2020. We anticipate that the final mile along the railroad corridor on the western side will go out to bid for construction in summer 2021.
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 downtown neighborhoods, 30,000 college students, and Greensboro’s present 100+ miles of trails and greenway plus Greensboro’s planned network that will grow to over 400 miles
- Health and wellness – Promotes exercise which reduces obesity and related health problems
- Access to transportation – Encourages people to walk or bicycle to and from downtown and its attractions, reducing auto and bus dependence and negative environmental impact
- Quality of life – Is the third of three quality-of-life resources (along with Center City Park and the Grasshoppers 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 a new venue for public art, enhancing Greensboro’s reputation as a creative city
- Uniqueness – Sets Greensboro apart as only the NC city, and one of the few in the nation, with a greenway encircling and defining its downtown.
Has the Downtown Greenway spurred economic development in surrounding areas?
Yes, it has. There are over $502.5 million in planned and completed projects along the Downtown Greenway that credit the project as part of their reason for making the investment. We have said that 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.
What is the expected cost to plan and build the Downtown Greenway?
$43 million with approximately $12 million in private donations from Foundations, Corporations, Businesses, and Individuals. $29 million in public funds has been realized through two local bond referendums ($14 million total with $7 million as a part of the 2008 Street Improvement Bond referendum and $7 million as a part of the 2016 Parks & Recreation Bond referendum), state, and federal funding. A full list of donors can be found on the Downtown Greenway website.
Who is designing the Downtown Greenway? Constructing the Greenway?
Several designers have been involved in this process. The original concept was conceived by Cooper Carry Center for Connective Architecture. Design work has been done by Evans Engineering, Stantec, Withers & Ravenel, and Kimley-Horn and all have adhered to the original design intent outlined by Cooper Carry.
Construction of the trail is bid out using the City’s bid process that awards contracts to the lowest bidder. Local contractors are used when possible. To date, S&S Building, Brooks Construction, Yates Construction, Rival Construction and P&S Grading – all local firms – have been awarded contracts for construction.
Art – Who is selecting it?
A Public Art Selection Committee composed of art professionals and representatives from 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 the Public Art Selection Committee and the Public Art Consultant for the project.
Art – How is it selected 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 (12 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 bike racks are commissioned from local artists. The artistic benches are only available 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 Downtown 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. The Public Art Selection Panel carefully reviewed and considered all applicants and the local applicant in this case didn’t rise to the top 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 nationally based artists in commissions for the Downtown Greenway in the sections that we have built. So far, this is the local and statewide participation:
- 2 artistic bike racks were created by local artist Erik Beerbower, 2 by Jim Gallucci, and 3 others by local college students – 2 from Guilford College and 1 from Greensboro College.
- Over.Under.Pass. was created by local artists Scott Richardson and Jim Gallucci (this was a significant commission funded by the National Endowment for the Arts)
- Grounded Here was done by Juan Logan of Chapel Hill.
- The 2 neighborhood benches were created by artists from Wilmington and Oriental, and a 3rd by an artist from Durham.
- Roots First, a Winston-Salem based firm that “repairs the connection between people and nature through design and communication” is working with us on a project along Smith Street called Northern Passage that will be installed summer 2020.
- Thomas Sayre from Raleigh has been commissioned to do a large scale Earthcasting on the WestWoods site, between Guilford and Friendly Avenue along the railroad corridor.
In addition, the Motion Cornerstone (the 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. I might also add that Frank Russell has since collaborated with Brower on another project in California – so pretty exciting that this contact was made that has opened some new doors for Frank’s work outside of our community.
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.
Land acquisition – How is this handled?
Much of the Downtown Greenway will be built on existing City-owned right of way. 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 Greenway once it is built?
The City of Greensboro owns the Downtown Greenway and the Parks & Recreation Department is responsible for its maintenance.
What about security on the 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. 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 Downtown Greenway Campaign is the establishment of an endowment to help provide funds to supplement ongoing maintenance and operation by the City. To date over $1 million dollars has been contributed to the Downtown Greenway Endowed Maintenance Fund.
Who will invest and manage the Downtown Greenway endowment funds?
The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
How can I help support the Downtown Greenway?