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Protests continue at Greenbridge over Northside gentrification

Photo: Protests continue at Greenbridge over Northside gentrification (Jennifer Davis)

About 15 area residents stood in non-violent protest against Greenbridge Condominiums Saturday evening.

Controversy surrounding Greenbridge Developments continued Saturday evening when about 15 area residents stood in nonviolent protest against the condominiums.

The protest came after a June 18 riot left four in the Orange County Jail and caused $3,400 of damage to the 10-story development located in the historically black and low-income Northside neighborhood.

The development was scheduled to go up for sale June 27 after defaulting on its loans, but Bank of America lenders delayed the sale to allow developers a chance to find investors to cover their $28.7 million debt.

‘I felt disturbed’

Michael Cohen, a Northside resident, participated in the protest.

“I felt disturbed by the overwhelming police characterization of the riot as violent,” he said. “My goal is to make this project such a hassle that it’s difficult to continue.”

Opponents of Greenbridge claim that the development, which developers hail as environmentally friendly, is causing gentrification in the Northside neighborhood, forcing long-time residents out in favor of student housing.

“Northside neighbors are facing displacement by rising rents and taxes while 60 units of luxury housing sit empty,” said protest organizer Sarah Johnson in a press release. “We want to draw attention to the ongoing displacement and exclusion of poor people in Chapel Hill, of which the racist gentrification of the Northside neighborhood is one part.”

Cohen said he would like to see the development used as affordable housing and a free community space.

Protesting the protestors

Robert Dowling, executive director of the Community Home Trust in Orange County, said he decided to attend the protest to inform the protesters that there are low-income people living in Greenbridge.

As dictated by town affordable housing standards, 15 of the development’s 97 condominiums are designated as affordable housing units, all of which are occupied.

“Part of (the protesters’) problem is they think a bunch of rich people live in the building,” he said.

Robert Bland, a Durham resident who attended the protest, said he thought the event was ineffective.

“At the end of the day, you’re not hurting the people in the building, you’re just being a nuisance,” he said.

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