Gaama Foods Closes, Southeast Winston Loses An Important Resource

“The Southeast area of Winston-Salem is an area that
has experienced change in recent years due to the
increased numbers of immigrants, mostly of Hispanic
origin, settling in and opening new businesses, enhancing
further diversity in its population.” -Southeast Area Plan, 2002 

Gaama Foods closed recently. The Latinx-focused grocery store at the corner of Waughtown and Reynolds Park Road, in the Southeast Plaza shopping center, will be missed. When it first opened a few years ago as Compare Foods, it was a modest grocery store with an impressive produce department. A couple of years ago, it became Gaama Foods.

The Lion Isn’t Afraid To Operate In East Winston

Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for local grocery stores. One of Winston’s most serious problems is the uneven distribution of grocery stores throughout our city, i.e., food deserts. While grocery stores are highly concentrated at Stradford Road and Cloverdale, they’re few and far between in East Winston. In East Winston corner stores stocked with vices but light on nutritional goods are the norm, grocery stores with fresh produce and a variety of healthy (and not so healthy) options are the exception. Food Lion is the lone grocery store chain that has invested in East Winston.

Broken Circle: A Few More Thoughts On Piedmont Circle And Brookside

The amount of money that is going to be invested in and around Cleveland Avenue is astounding. In a sense, it’s like Cleveland Avenue, and adjacent neighborhoods won the lottery. On the other hand, the infusion of tens of millions of public and private dollars will lead to the displacement of longtime residents if the community is not involved in its “transformation.” I worry about residents who have suffered for years in poorly maintained public housing units won’t be allowed to live in the new homes on Cleveland Avenue. On the other side of 25th Street, Piedmont Circle is in the shadows.

Throwback Thursday: Funding Brookwood Business Park, Ignoring Piedmont Circle

At the November 16 meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council, our centrist-Democrat-dominated governing body voted 7-1 to use $1 million from the City’s scarce housing assistance funds to subsidize development at Whitaker Park. Councilmember Dan Besse was the only member of the council who objected. In today’s blog Throwback Thursday blog (the first of what I hope to be regular installments), I’m going to briefly examine the City’s use of $2 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) loans to assist Brookwood Business Park while they ignored the needs of nearby Piedmont Circle.* You may ask why I’m lumping a business park with a public housing community? Brookwood and Piedmont Circle are adjacent to each other. And it’s striking to see a new business park from the City and the County’s modern Sheriff’s Office across the street from Piedmont, while Piedmont Circle appears to be frozen in time.

Liberty CDC And The Limits Of Working Within The System

The Winston-Salem Journal recently reported that Jim Shaw, the man “who led efforts to develop the Liberty Street Corridor, died Monday of brain cancer.” I will leave it to others to judge Jim Shaw, The Chronicle’s 2006 Man of the Year. I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead. But the CDC that Shaw led for the better part of 20 years deserves scrutiny. The Liberty CDC floundered in its efforts to redevelop the Liberty Street Corridor while Downtown Winston-Salem was transformed at great costs to local taxpayers.

The Bowen Park Neighborhood: Marketing Versus Reality

“Bowen Park now has a historical marker. The community was home for many Blacks seeking their part of the American dream in the 40s, 50s, and 60s-a place viewed fondly for the foundation it laid, the men and women it made, and the home it continues to be today.” -Bowen Park: A Dream Realized

Recently, the City of Winston-Salem put up a historical marker at Bowen Boulevard and Douglas Hill Drive, honoring the Bowen Park Neighborhood. Unlike Reynoldstown and most of East Winston, which were originally built for white homeowners, Bowen Park was built for African Americans. Bowen Park was segregated when it was built in the 1940s and 1950s, and it’s still segregated today.

Smith Reynolds Airport Is Estranged From Northeast Winston

Tuesday, September 8, Donald Trump made a campaign stop at Smith Reynolds Airport. At the same time that the Trump hot-air show /Covid-19 party was taking place at Smith Reynolds, the Winston-Salem City Council debated and approved the Smith Reynolds Airport/Whitaker Park Strategic Area Plan. If ever there was a coincidence, that was it. The two events have nothing to do with each other. But, interestingly, while the racism inherent in Trump’s campaign rally is explicit for everyone to see, the structural racism that produced the Smith Reynolds Airport/Whitaker Park Strategic Area Plan requires some unpacking.

The East End Eases Forward, Ever So Slowly, For Now

The former Burger King building at 510 N Martin Luther King Jr Drive reopened as a Popeye’s restaurant earlier this year. Winston’s second Popeye’s (the first location opened on University) was a major upgrade for East Winston, a community that lacks restaurant options that the rest of the city takes for granted. Even though the Popeyes at MLK and Fifth has been open for months now, the city has an issue with it. The City of Winston-Salem wants Popeye’s to conform to the higher standards of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Overlay District. This is a matter that the City has been debating since 2017.

A Vacant Storefront On North Liberty Tells A Story

For the last couple of weeks, I have been taking photos of the Liberty Street Corridor, while practicing social distancing. Only a five-minute drive from downtown, it’s a world away. While downtown Winston has received over $1 billion in public and private investments over the last couple of decades, the Liberty Street Corridor has received empty promises and ill-conceived projects, such as the Liberty Street Market. If any neighborhood in our city needs a bailout, it’s the North Liberty Street/Fourteenth Street neighborhood. Actually, the Black residents of the Liberty Corridor deserve reparations.

In East Winston, Art Imitates Life

Last month, the corner store at 14th and Cameron was damaged when a vehicle crashed into it. When I recently looked at the damage myself, it struck me that the 14th Street corner store is representative of the plight of East Winston. A mural painted by Marianne DiNiapoli-Mylet and Donell Williams in 2015, presents the story of Black achievement in East Winston as stops along a Safe Bus route. It’s an impressive mural and there is no denying the achievements that local African Americans have accomplished, in spite of entrenched racism. From master brickmaker George Black to politicians like Larry Womble and Earline Parmon, the history captured my the mural at 14th and Cameron is worth celebrating.