Archive for December, 2007

A glut of condominium projects in downtown Winston-Salem and the slowing national economy are causing some developers to change, withdraw or re-examine their projects.

Landex Development LLC, the company that is redeveloping the Brown & Williamson building into the Gallery Lofts condominiums, announced that it might change its focus from condominiums to apartment rentals.Judy Siegel, the chairwoman of Landex, said last week that she is 90 percent sure that Landex will move to rental.“Winston-Salem is a solid, good market,” she said. “It’s just that it’s shallow. With a project this big, that makes the difference.”

Half of the planned 77 condominiums had sold in the past two years, Siegel said. The company was close to its goal of selling the 60 percent of the condominiums required for financing on the project, but sales were taking too long.The project had attracted a mix of 30- to 60-year-old empty nesters, professionals and downtown business people, Siegel said. Letters were sent to the Gallery’s buyers about the possible change, and about 10 people so far have asked for their deposits back.Over the next few months, her company expects to get the financing for a rental project in place, Siegel said.After five years, the building might be converted into condominiums, she said.Elsewhere around downtown, other developers are looking at delays and changes to their projects.

Catherine Mitchell, the vice president of Boulevard Centro, the Charlotte company that is developing West End Village at the corner of Fourth and Broad streets, said that a planned third building, Fourth and Green, is on hold. Sales rates for the first two buildings in the project have been steady. Fourth and Broad, which has a total of 72 condominiums and town houses, is at 85 percent, or about 60 units. At the Towns, which has 54 condominiums, sales are at 55 percent, or about 30 units, she said.“It hasn’t been out of the gate bombarding us,” she said. “Our traffic remains steady.” A good part of recent sales have been second-home buyers, Mitchell said. First-time buyers appear to be having a harder time saving up a down payment to enter the market, she said.

Tammy Watson, an agent with ERA/Piedmont Realty, said that her company is selling the land where Pisco Holdings in Las Vegas had announced plans for 36 condominiums at 575 Liberty St. She said that the developer has decided not to do the project here.She has had a couple of calls about the property, which is about a quarter of an acre. Some people just want the land and others are interested in it for a specific project, she said.

Some downtown observers also have questioned the fate of the District, a group of three to five condominium buildings proposed for Trade Street, Martin Luther King Drive and Liberty Street. The project was announced earlier this year.Chad Davis, the president of East Coast Capital Inc. and the developer of the project, did not return phone calls.Jason Thiel, the president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, said that changes to development projects are not unusual, particularly in downtown development.Many of the 500 or so housing units that were built in the past five years sold fast because they were based on pent-up demand, he said.“What you’re starting to see is the product start to diversify,” he said. “I think that’s going to be very helpful.”He said he expects to see more apartments, and more housing that is less expensive. Downtown housing tends to cost more per square foot than comparable housing in the suburbs.

The slowdown in home sales nationwide has played a part in the local real-estate market, he said. When people buy a place downtown, they often have to sell their homes first, and that is taking longer.Joyce Snelgrove, a listing agent with Prudential Carolinas Realty, which has two of its six live/work condominiums at Holly Village for sale, said that selling homes has been a problem for some of the buyers she has worked with.The condominiums in Holly Village have work or recreational space on the first floors and living space on the second and third floors.Some of the sales have been to executives from out of state, she said. One of her prospects right now is waiting to sell a home out of state.Snelgrove said she is optimistic about the future of downtown. The baseball stadium is under way, as are other residential projects just beyond the downtown core.

Thiel said that with all of the activity downtown, he expects more retail development to occur, and that will add another layer of diversification to the market.“I think we’ve established that housing works,” he said, “and I think it’s a matter of absorption.”

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IMG_1057Although it’s pretty sunny today this is what we woke to so I thought I would share with those that may not see a "White Christmas."

Merry Christmas from BITS!

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I took my family to see the Golden Compass in spite of the hue and cry that came from the Catholic Church and the comments about the fact that the author was an Atheist. I found the movie harmless but felt that before I could comment honestly I had to read the entire selection and make a determination for myself as to the validity of the claims against it and the motives presented by the author in the work.

His Dark Essentials is a trilogy written by Phillip Pulliam. It features the Golden Compass as the opening volume. The trilogy is touted as a children’s story which won numerous accolades and awards. I confess that it was one of the most tedious and difficult reads I have ever had to endure, and it was clearly written with an agenda that teaches children all the wrong lessons in my humble opinion. The plot was questionable in is entire assertion and convoluted in the manner it was presented. It was based primarily on the theory of the multiverse and while it provided some memorable characters, most of the beings central to the story on both sides are dark and odious. Not the kind of beings suitable for description to young children.

The Catholic Church took the trilogy as an attack upon the church and the institution of religion, and raised a hue and cry about the message that it sent. In truth the author lays every evil ever done at the feet of the church (or religion as a whole) and takes the position that people like Hitler, Mengele, Stalin, or Mao were not evil, but simply did evil things. The Church on the other hand is evil in everything it does. The book reflects what in this writers opinion can only be seen as a visceral hatred for the concept of God and religion in general and a premise that what God created imperfectly (The Kingdom of Heaven) can be better constructed by a little girl (The Republic of Heaven). My first instinct was to wonder whether the author had ever been molested by a member of the clergy as a child.

It must be stated outright that religion on the whole is flawed and that it has done terrible things in the name of the many Gods represented by it. Certainly the events current in the world today demonstrate that. But it is purely irresponsible to assert that because one believes in God or that they practice their religion faithfully that they are somehow evil or bad. In the same breath we must accept that a great deal of good has also been done in the name of religion and that one should be intellectually honest in their approach to it and allow people to make their own decisions in such matters. As a Father I have my own set of beliefs, but I do not impose them on my children nor do I try to convince them to think the way I do. I make every effort to help them find information that is relevant and contemplate such issues within themselves and arrive at their own decisions. Clearly the author feels the need to impose his opinion and cannot express the subject with an open mind.

The main characters (the heroines’ parents) are two of the vilest examples of human debris ever described in literature, much less a childrens story. Self absorbed, deceitful, willing to torture, maim, or kill to achieve their goals, without even the simplest level of humanity or civility. They meander through a torturously convoluted story line filled with some of the most ridiculous concepts and philosophical conundrums imaginable. The child who actually suffered through this screed would very likely be damaged for life and have no concept of what culture, history, or religion are truly all about.

I have read many series of fantasy books, some which were imaginative and informative, but few as pointless as Mr. Pulliams’ offering. It causes me some concern that as a children’s book this is designed to dissuade a child from believing in God rather than letting that child grow in life and make their own determination based on their life experiences. It presents a very dark view of a flawed cultural structure (religion) and condemns all adherents as if they were somehow ignorant or stupid for their participation. This is a book I would recommend, to demonstrate the contents of a polluted and biased mind that cannot accept its own philosophy without trying to force it on others.

Go see the movie and enjoy a tale with some entertaining fantasy and fun adventure. The movies Lyra is a smart little girl full of spunk and displaying some of the most endearing qualities of loyalty imaginable. Iorek Byrnison, voiced by Ian McCallum, is wonderful and entertaining. Of course the Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter don’t even slightly resemble their literary characters though they do self absorbed very well. But save yourself a good deal of time and pass on the book.  No doubt that it is exactly the kind of material some would enjoy reading, but having read a good deal in my time I find it less than worth the 928 long pages it requires to arrive at a truly pointless result.

I seriously doubt that a sequel can be made directly from the book without rewriting the whole thing to avoid the questionable content, but if it is I’ll be interested in seeing how closely Hollywood is willing to come and let controversy really color the public debate. Many will find it wonderful, some will wonder what kind of drugs the author was doing when he wrote it, but at the end of the day it isn’t really worth the time it takes to read it.

It’s time we move to the next volume………………

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Yes we here at BITS broke this story a full day before the mass media picked it up or the company itself announced that it was in fact closing down!

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A Parking Deck at Charlotte’s South Park Mall partially collapsed just hours ago. At least one person is dead after the third floor deck of a recently completed parking deck collapsed.

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CompUSA may be going out of business if rumors are true.

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Apple to open new store in North Carolina.

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