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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

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

KIERAN TAYLOR 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. KIERAN TAYLOR 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 displacement. 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.