Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Before we leave Gastonia

Downtown Gastonia is either experiencing a major rebirth (see below), or mired in the same old problems. At least, that's what the commenters on "What Ails Gastonia" have been saying.
This one was among the more interesting comments, from Alicia Demeny $#8211; and she nails me for using an old photo from the Observer's files. I hope she's right about the new energy. So many times and so many hopes have gone into trying to revitalize Gastonia's downtown. Would be great if this time it worked:
"The author of this article has failed to mention that there are over 8 bright, nice new businesses that have come to the downtown area, with more coming soon. Included in these great new places are restaurants and coffee shops, a cool new pub, boutiques and salons, nice office complexes and condos. A photography studio and event center ... and more.
Most of all of them doing major upgrades and renovations to the old buildings. These improvements are bringing out the beautiful old exposed brick, hardwoods and architecture of these once glorious structures. The author of this article also failed to use a photograph that is recent. The photograph used shows a building that no longer exists. A lovely park is at this very moment is being built in its place. As an employee in the downtown area I am excited about the potential and positive growth. As a women I feel totally safe walking down the street to the new restaurants and pub. Just last week the downtown area hosted an art crawl that included many of the businesses, live music on the street and wine tastings. The general statement by the over 300 in attendance was that it was a great event and that it should happen more often.
If it's been six years or six months since you have been downtown you owe it to yourself to visit again before believing a biased article that simple focuses on the past and politics. Those of us downtown are focused on growth and the future."

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mary, You should fine another line of work.

Anonymous said...

"fine" another line of work ?

You should go back to grade school and learn how to speak.

Greeko said...

I tried to live in Gastonia last year and all I can say is what a shame. Although I met some very nice people the culture seems to be run my irritable rednecks with no manners who are mad at whomever crosses their path. The city is laid out very well, nice roads, but yet this culture isolates it from the rest of Charlotte. Belmont, right next door, could give them lessons.

Anonymous said...

"learn how to speak."
This is a written medium. Join the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

I learned how to speak at a government school.

Anonymous said...

Who cares????????

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlottecollector said...

Good grief there are some snarky posters on here! So someone misspelled a word...let it go! I lived in the historic district of Gastonia for five years. I was only five blocks from uptown and while I wouldn't walk up and back to the restaurants at night I did feel safe most anytime. I drove downtown just a few weeks ago and even though there is a lot of progress it still looks pretty much the same as it did when I lived there. (that was five years ago)Yes, I saw new things being done but they have light years to go to get a decent downtown.

Anonymous said...

Poor old Gastonia! I lived there until age thirteen; it was a small quiet town and for kids my age there were two movie theaters and a skating rink (of course, Lineberger Park in the Summer!). I think the thugs and gays have pretty much taken over the park now; don't know about downtown (uptown?), whatever. I live in Cleveland County now. Gastonia could also take a lesson from Shelby.

Steve said...

I live in one of the 83 or so little towns between Gastonia and Belmont. It's really a nice place to live. I go to downtown Gastonia for an occasional meeting, or to attend something special at First United Methodist Church, or to get a hot dog at Tony's Ice Cream. Of course I also get some ice cream, and I usually also go there when I do either of the first two things.

In some ways Franklin Square is the real downtown Gastonia, though.

I can get to the airport and even downtown Charlotte quicker than most folks in Mecklenburg Co. can. Two six-lane highways to Charlotte run right by this area. I'll miss them when I retire to Davidson.

Belmont and to an extent the little towns to its west are making good efforts toward reinventing themselves. Gastonia's bad reputation and the current economic downturn have kept growth in this area from getting out of hand, and that's not a bad thing. It will give some time for getting ready for the future, unlike the grow-first-plan-later approach of Union County and a couple of north Mecklenburg towns.

There are those who have new urbanist visions for Gastonia, and they could possibly become reality some day, maybe even during the next boom time. By then maybe we will have made enough progress that they'll let us watch the documentary on Gastonia's history that PBS did, which I once read had never been shown by any of the PBS stations in NC or SC. Some things take a while to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Gastonia's roads are fine and the place is laid out pretty good. But some of the attitudes and ways of doing things are not up to the 21st century. Some people are friendly, some are very attitudinal. They don't like outsiders bringing in new ideas. The citizens say they are trying to change and improve things but if you have an idea that has been proven to work somewhere else, they will either ignore you or bring up their "traditional ways of doing things". Geez, didn't those ways help create the problems that they were trying to fix??
Gastonia's downtown has seen it's better days. Drugs, gangs, crime, working gals, you name it.... it's there. It's too bad. I bet this place was really something back years ago.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ the person saying Gastonia could learn from Shelby. I've lived in Charlotte and the surrounding areas for the past 21 years, and I can easily say that nothing good can be learned from Shelby.

Lynne Stevenson said...

Having had a couple of relatives residing in Gastonia, I used to be a frequent visitor as a child back in the late 1960s and early to middle 70s. My sister and I even spent one Halloween there trick or treating with the neighborhood children. We were welcomed with open arms from the neighbors, and were treated the same as everyone else.
It is a shame that it has fallen on basically the same fate that other cities have encountered. I remember eating at the Bob's Big Boy Drive Inn restaurant and going to some of the stores downtown.
I also remember the local radio station had a Christmas tree it kept lit on Spencer Mountain until all of the troops returned from Vietnam.
Such a wealth of memories tarnished by the passing of time and economic hardship. God bless the citizens of Gastonia for wanting to bring back the good ole days...May they be successful in their endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Gastonia offers a haven of affordable, historic homes and an eclectic community. It is not for everyone, and those of us who are here are thankful for that. Many of the residents who live on the outskirts of downtown did not grow up here, so the old stereotypes in the article simply aren't valid. Many of us work in Charlotte, but choose not to live there. We are happy with Gastonia and are eager to see its downtown bloom again.

mike said...

Gastonia is the arm pit of the world full of rednecks...no one is going to live uptown or downtown when they have to stumble over homeless people all the time or look at ugly scenery...and belmont isn't any different just work around that area and you will see just as many rednecks and losers.

Anonymous said...

I chose to live in Gastonia and I have never experienced any unkindness or rudeness. But I also am not looking to be best friends with my neighbors, who are all at least 30 years older than me. I like the sense of the small redevelopming community and I am excited to live there. I frequent uptown a lot, my stylist is there and I can't wait until more redevelopment is done. I feel that folks who seem to think Gastonia is full of irritable rednecks didn't spend enough time, this is the South, Gastonia is a southern city. It takes time.

You Don't Sound Like You're From Around Here said...

After my wife and I failed the Gastonia Howdy Neighbor Residency Test below, we were forced to flee to West Gastonia. (My wife now puts on airs by telling folks we live in Bessemer City). See how well you do on it:

1. Which Baptist church do you attend?

2. Please indicate your highest level of education:
a. sixth grade
b. eighth grade
c. All the way through Grade 12!

3. Circle your political affiliation.

a. Dixiecrat
b. Conservative Republican
c. Communist (anything besides a. or b. above)

Anonymous said...

I need clarification....are people really calling it 'uptown' Gastonia?!?!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
barkomomma said...

Y'all need to remember that the "G" is silent.

TJ Stocker III said...

Gastonia, as I said before, is a hidden gem. As long as people let the few rednecks ruin it for everyone, that gem will never shine. All Gastonia needs is a fresh coat of paint and some innovation and ingenuity. It would seem certain developers are working on that already. I challenge some of you to take a drive through downtown (and the surrounding neighborhoods). It's already looking like parts of Charlotte in some places, and yet you claim Gastonia IS Airline Ave. or IS the Erwin Park neighborhood, without driving through the nicer parts of town. Gastonia is a huge city for its size, and we are proud of our town. It doesn't take much effort to find what you need or a nice neighborhood or a clean store. Those that trash Gastonia simply haven't made the effort to get to know the people.

To the person who said they lived in Gastonia five years ago and that downtown hasn't changed... you should have seen it ten years ago. It was a real piece of work then.

Anonymous said...

Progress or not, I still say that if God wanted to give NC an enema he'd put the hose in Gastonia.

Anonymous said...

Well i moved her 3 years ago and bought a house that i love however my street has alot of older couples that have died since and now it's turning into getto rental house.There is NO scene in Gastonia for the 20-30ish crowd,unless you like sports bars.I ran my indie business in Charlotte Gastonia is a culture kill,it's barely making it on life support,sad but i dont see it changing anytime soon

Anonymous said...

I agree that Gastonia doesn't have much to offer the 20-30 crowd. If this were viewed at the "party city," or designed to specifically cater to that age group, I could certainly see why that may offend some people. There are plenty of events where that bracket is welcome - but whether or not they show up is really their choice.

I've lived in Gastonia since 1985 - my mother was born and reared here. While I have been disappointed with certain elements of the city, I must say that crime, drug problems and negative connotations effect ALL cities, or at least parts of them. If citizens truly care about their surroundings, they will do whatever they can to change it for the better.

I'm certain that surrounding areas have dealt with layoffs, prostitution, murders and freeloaders, too. That's called LIFE - not Gastonia. There's also such a thing called "free will," and to discount this and blame an entire city for the wrongdoings of others ... well ... is just plain foolishness.

I'm an educated, married mother of two who's doing her best to make a life for her family here. This is where we chose to make our life. Is it perfect? Absolutely not! Nowhere is perfect. So, we dig in our heels and make the best of what we have - while working diligently to change what is less than desirable.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Gastonia doesn't have much to offer the 20-30 crowd. If this were viewed as the "party city," or designed to specifically cater to that age group, I could certainly see why that may offend some people. There are plenty of events where that bracket is welcome - but whether or not they show up is really their choice.

I've lived in Gastonia since 1985 - my mother was born and reared here. While I have been disappointed with certain elements of the city, I must say that crime, drug problems and negative connotations effect ALL cities, or at least parts of them. If citizens truly care about their surroundings, they will do whatever they can to change it for the better.

I'm certain that surrounding areas have dealt with layoffs, prostitution, murders and freeloaders, too. That's called LIFE - not Gastonia. There's also such a thing called "free will," and to discount this and blame an entire city for the wrongdoings of others ... well ... is just plain foolishness.

I'm an educated, married mother of two who's doing her best to make a life for her family here. This is where we chose to make our life. Is it perfect? Absolutely not! Nowhere is perfect. So, we dig in our heels and make the best of what we have - while working diligently to change what is less than desirable.