It’s a paradox of autumn that as our hemisphere cools, preparing for a long slumber, it also feels energized by the bright colors of fall foliage, with reds, oranges, yellows and greens popping in effervescent bursts. Movement, in terms of outdoor recreation, can also be performed more easily and vigorously without the energy-sapping heat of summer. In Winston-Salem, we’ve noticed a burst of energy surrounding downtown construction and development. Where much of it slumbered or slowed during our COVID crisis, we now see earth moved and particle board stapled into place. It’s encouraging to see this industry, this progress, and to know that our city will continue to develop in dynamic and rewarding ways.
Two projects in particular, in the heart of downtown, have shown visible progress: Merschel Park and the new Kaleideum museum.
The park development sat long enough for a hill of dirt to sprout a lawn; now it’s been cleared and concrete is being poured. Soon, trees and a more intentional lawn will follow, as well as a 30-foot kinetic sculpture, resulting in a new park that should tie together several prominent downtown draws.
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The multi-storied Kaleideum, the result of the merging of Winston-Salem’s science and children’s museums, sits like a giant on its haunches, with workmen and heavy machinery buzzing, a hive of activity with visible daily progress.
Tourists and residents alike will one day enjoy these amenities.
A little to the east, the Innovation Quarter is also preparing for a burst of new activity in its second phase. IQ also slumbered after a dramatic initial transformation. But its leaders are now working toward a second phase of development that will include more residential construction as well as retail and restaurant space.
Challenges to move forward have grown, though, given that none of the 28 acres still undeveloped in the IQ contain buildings that qualify for historic rehabilitation tax credits, which helped spur previous growth. In most construction projects, prices have risen with the supply chain disruptions that accompanied COVID. That makes construction more difficult — especially new projects.
But you can’t keep Winston-Salem down.
In the meantime, the City of Arts and Innovation stands to benefit from a couple of colorful murals currently being created in prominent places: One in front of the Quality Mart on the corner of Broad and Fifth streets; the other on the building on Spruce Street between Fourth and Fifth streets. They both feature historic and cultural touchstones of our prosperous and dynamic city.
Nearby, at the corner of Fourth and Spruce streets, the new brick and corten steel sculpture called “Resilience — Still I Rise,” honoring science, education, innovation, technology and business, has claimed its position. We need more of this, please — more sponsored by the city and by the business community. It wouldn’t hurt to take a few creative risks, either, with art less rooted in tradition, leaning more toward ... innovation. We await the dandelion with anticipation.
Spring may seem a more appropriate season for these buds to rise. But any season, under the right circumstances, can produce and nurture growth. And growth leads to hope, resilience and the kind of individuality that tells the world that Winston-Salem has a unique, productive and valuable identity.