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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Justifications for and concerns about urban renewal

Bailey describes his belief in the justification of urban renewal projects, but also shares his concerns that such projects can benefit corporate interests. He and other Charlotteans were worried that one such project disproportionately benefited the Belk family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What was your stand on urban renewal? Were you in favor?
ALLEN BAILEY:
Yes. I felt like that . . . the urban renewal program had something to offer to the cities, and here is where individual property rights and the overall need of the cities and the welfare of the community as a whole came into conflict. But, so where that happens, one or the other has to give and here I saw the overall good to the city outweighing the individual right of property ownership. So I support it and do support urban renewal, urban renewal projects. Not on a . . . I mean in situations in which there's a real need for rebuilding and restructuring the city and a community . . .
BILL MOYE:
What about the use for downtown commercial redevelopment?
ALLEN BAILEY:
Well, I think here we get into a grayer area. I think a lot of the people in our city have felt that here individuals or individual corporations have prospered as a result of the downtown urban renewal projects that are proposed and have been undertaken. But I suppose that this would be true in any city where you have an urban renewal project in the downtown area. Some businesses that have remained there would be benefitted. So I don't know if this is a real objectionable feature. I . . . there may possibly have been conflicts within our city . . . those in political positions and some of the urban renewal projects downtown . . . I think that may be what has caused some of the complaints . . .
BILL MOYE:
One group wants a certain thing done and maybe another group wants another thing done, ah, something along that line . . . where the civic center should be, and things along that line?
ALLEN BAILEY:
Yes. Yes. Right.
BILL MOYE:
I reckon you find that most . . .
ALLEN BAILEY:
You find that most . . . most places. Like I say, the thing that our people have complained about or have recently complained about it, some probably to a greater degree than ordinarily would be the case is that some of the people who have benefitted downtown are in the political structure.
BILL MOYE:
Is this, when you say the political structure . . . are we talking about, say, the Belks?
ALLEN BAILEY:
Oh, yeah. You're talking about the Belks basically. I think that's what the basic complaint is.
BILL MOYE:
Do you . . . I mean, do you think that one reason that John Belk is in the political process is in order to . . . or do you think this sort of comes as a part of . . .
ALLEN BAILEY:
I think it's probably twofold. I think it would naturally come as a result of urban renewal projects. The Belks are so totally financially in the city in so many different ways until I think that any program of upgrading will of course increase their interest, enhance their interest. I think also that they're not blind to the fact that being in public office gives one an opportunity to feather his own nest to a certain degree. I do not say that that's the reason for John's being in political office. I think that he honestly and sincerely thinks that he has some time and ability to give and Charlotte has been good to him and he has given a lot. Any mayor of the city of Charlotte sacrifices a lot.
BILL MOYE:
Takes a lot of time . . .
ALLEN BAILEY:
Takes a lot of time. I have to say that the mayor has been most diligent in that respect.
BILL MOYE:
They have so many interests that it's almost impossible to do anything in Charlotte . . .