A new style of urban renewal and new challenges
Adams describes recent urban renewal efforts in this excerpt. By encouraging community contributions, these efforts have been more successful in keeping residents in their homes and businesses. The city faces a challenge, however, as wealthy outsiders drive up property values with pricey renovations.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. 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
I think sort of what renewal has meant to the black community has
basically been displacement up until now.
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
It's been. It's been, right.
I'm wondering if in Cuyler-Brownsville and on the east side
are you encountering resistance or suspicion from people who think
thatߞ. The danger is that those neighborhoods just become an
extension of the historic district and that they either become housing
for SCAD students or northerners retiring to Savannah.
FLOYD ADAMS, JR.
Well, that's what is happening in the historic district,
especially on the east side in Beech Institute area. The city through
Mr. Law established the Beech Institute, and we went in there and did
some revitalization and fixed things up and everything else, and the
goal was to keep those black tenants who were living in there in their
homes. We prevailed with that. But in doing so we attracted other
developers who in turn came in and bought houses and remodeled. Then
they saw the economics of SCAD students coming in where individuals
would pay three hundred dollars for a three-bedroom home now costs
you nine hundred dollars or a thousand dollars
depending on the location or what have you. Quite naturally the average
family member can't do it; so we have to deal with that
Plus the northerners and the Midwesterners because of the book and other
things have come here. All over the city they're buying
winter homes here and drove up the real estate market values so high
that the tax structure on the houses that Mr. Law and his crowd were
trying to accomplish by giving them low based rents, the taxes start
rising. So they had to raise the rent, and then that defeated the
program as well. So it's a Catch-22 situation in that, but
getting back to what you originally asked. No, because we're
not, people don't suspect of what we're doing
because we're having the neighborhood meetings.
We're bringing the people in explaining to them, get their
input about what's going on and giving them opportunities to
borrow this money from the city or make arrangements for the banks to
get low interest loans so they can in turn improve their facilities
themselves. But we always have those people who suspect now.
Younger whites are learning the value of those homes and the future
investment of those homes where you can go and buy you a Victorian home
on an average market now before say three years ago Victorian home
between thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars range and then putting say
one hundred thousand dollars in it. Next thing you know
you've got yourself a two hundred thousand-dollar house with
space that you can't find in a conventional house. One of
those Victorian homes have anywhere between two thousand and three
thousand square feet in them, and so it all depends on the luxury you
want to put inside it. They're realizing that they could do
that and make money off of it rather than go into a subdivision and pay
$150,000 and don't have anything in it, and plus
they don't have to worry about commuting. With the
improvement of the social life downtown and the cultural life downtown,
some of them can walk to Broughton Street or walk to City Market and get
a good meal and have fun and that type of thing. They feel safe and
relaxed. So that is a new twist. Some people call them the yuppies of
the eighties, the older terms, but now they call them the yuppies or
whatever they call them. They have a name for them. But
they're coming downtown and that's a
newߞthe younger couples are coming downtown.
They're buying the condos. They're buying the
houses and renovating them themselves and they can deal with it. People
call it gentrification, but gentrification is a good thing and bad
thing, but it's also dealing with the economics of the
situation as well. So we have to deal with a balance.