What’s the matter with Greenville?

Fifth Street in 2011 -Ryan Harper | The East Carolinian

Sometimes, when I am having a beer at Winslow’s, I like to wander away from the noise and activity of the bar. There, hanging on the walls in the back, are pictures of old Greenville. The sidewalks are filled with people strolling, cars line the streets, and signs overhang the bustling storefronts.

You won’t see that now. The streets of downtown Greenville are empty during the day, and when you peer in the windows, you are more likely to see a reflection than a person inside. Only at night does downtown come alive, and Fifth Street has become choked with pool halls and third-rate dance clubs, which cater to the nightlife. ECU is famous for its party scene because, in this town, there is little else to do.

Despite all of the approximately 27,000 students attending school here, Greenville doesn’t feel like a college town.  Where are the Hare Krishnas, the socialist bookshops, the kids playing guitar on the sidewalk, the eccentrics, the hipsters, the booming coffee shops, the radicals, the reactionaries … where is the weirdness and energy that makes college towns so special? How is it that this city, with a historic downtown located right on the edge of a huge university, cannot even sustain the simulacrum of college culture?  What’s the matter with Greenville?

Evans Street circa 1966. -ECU Digital Collections

We students are partly to blame. I am shocked at how many students have never seen the courthouse and do not know where Tipsy Teapot is. Do people no longer explore?  The first thing one ought to do on arriving in a new town is wander, discovering what a place has to offer. But maybe it is easier to drive to Greenville Boulevard rather than have to walk five hundred feet to Evans Street.

ECU has unwittingly played a part in downtown’s demise as well, by creating a complex of fast-food joints that divert business away from the sandwich shops and restaurants located along Fifth and Evans streets.

We all suffer from living in a town that is lethargic and boring. But no one suffers more than ECU, and it is unlikely that the university will be able to achieve its institutional or educational goals as long as downtown Greenville continues to fail.

The best students want to be in a place that is exciting and interesting. Even a rinky-dink college like UNC-Asheville has transformed itself into a top-flight school simply by offering a vibrant and stimulating downtown as a reason to go there. Greenville offers little more than football and dollar-draft nights, which can only draw students for whom tailgating and tail-chasing are the limits of their imagination.  And how can ECU retain its star faculty when Greenville cannot even offer an independent movie theater, a good music venue or even a good conversation?

It even affects athletics. ECU may show off its football stadium and become nostalgic about its tradition, but no amount of purple and gold can cover up the gray that is beneath. Recruiters at Chapel Hill, or Athens, Georgia, or Austin, Texas can offer the cities themselves: “Don’t you want to be here?” they ask.

More importantly, Greenville’s failing downtown compromises the very mission of the university. The college experience is about much more than taking classes and earning a degree; it is about opening eyes to the possibilities of culture, and transforming kids into literate, free-thinking adults. When a college freshman buys his first Tom Waits album, or first tastes ethnic food, or stumbles through his first conversation about philosophy, he is going through a rite of passage that students everywhere ought to have. This takes place as much outside of the classroom as within. But it requires the kind of place that encourages cultural growth. Greenville’s business district, which seems to be an endless strip of box stores and chain restaurants, virtually ensures that you will never see or taste anything that you haven’t seen or tasted before. As for personal growth, I am concerned that many students leave Greenville with little more than a diploma and a hangover.

The City of Greenville has made numerous efforts to inject life into its downtown, paying for the upkeep of facades and making grants to small businesses to encourage growth. But the city has proven limited in its ability to drive revitalization; it cannot do it alone. ECU is the only player with the funds and power to make a decisive difference in downtown’s fortunes. And if ECU is to ever accomplish its goals as a university, it must take dramatic steps to ensure downtown Greenville’s prosperity.

Perhaps ECU should help to subsidize downtown businesses. A portion of campus living fees could be set aside as only spendable in designated locations downtown, such as The Scullery or Cubbies. Does this sound strange? Then perhaps you ought to consider Pirate Bucks, which every student living on campus is required to buy with their meal plans. Pirate Bucks, which can only be spent at campus dining facilities, act as a subsidy to the various Subways and Chick-fil-A’s that permeate ECU.

Fast food on campus is convenient, for sure, but what are these restaurants bringing to the life of ECU students that merits the university effectively forcing students to buy there?  A Chick-fil-A sandwich purchased at the Croatan tastes the same as a sandwich from any of the other 1,600-odd Chick-fil-A franchises that dot the South. A student eating here is not creating any memories that are particular to ECU, much less Greenville. Besides, most of these campus fast-food joints can prosper without university support: their central location and brand recognition ensure their survival.

ECU should consider either eliminating Pirate Bucks, which artificially raises the price of campus meal plans and drives money to campus fast-food joints, or it should consider transforming them into a tool that encourages students to use and discover downtown Greenville. Even the businesses that are not designated as places where Pirate Bucks can be used would benefit. A student that goes to Courtside Café for an omelette will have to walk past the Scullery, Sojourner and Expressions. Who knows? They may decide to pop in after breakfast.

Another thing that ECU could do is open an upscale hotel near downtown.  Other universities have found these to be quite profitable, as a nice place for parents to stay when they visit their children and as a place for alumni when they return to watch football and relive their college days. These guests will expect to find nice restaurants and a quaint downtown or at least something more charming than Memorial Drive has to offer.

Finally, has ECU considered locating classes on Evans Street?  Even two or three classrooms used daily would bring several hundred students a week downtown, and the associated foot traffic would be a benefit to the shops, coffeehouses and restaurants in the area.  Lest students balk at the distance, let me remind you that Evans Street is closer than the Belk building or, God forbid, having to commute to West Campus. Renting space in these underused locations can hardly be more expensive than creating and maintaining new structures on campus.

Savannah College of Art and Design has used this model in its own efforts at city revitalization, purchasing and renovating historic buildings for the school’s use. These efforts have not only helped transform Savannah into a tourist destination, but also made SCAD an attractive college to students, despite the hefty tuition.

These moves would place ECU at the forefront of city revitalization and draw national attention to the university. More importantly, they would help turn Greenville into the kind of place it needs to be. The kind of place where we want to be.

This writer can be contacted atopinion@theeastcarolinian.com

187 Comments for “What’s the matter with Greenville?”

  1. Baxter B.

    Love the article- next step should be looking into a way to pursue this. I’m sure you would have many supporters- myself included.

    • Anonymous

      Easy hippies…

      • Anonymous

        I actually love downtown…

      • Good grief

        Don’t worry old fart…they aren’t as crazy as you and most old farts in this town think they are. Something needs to be done and it’s not to keep the same ol stale and stagnant downtown that has become riddled with crime. You could probably learn a thing or two from a younger generation instead of staying ignorant.

      • Bobby

        look you subsized ….just because you dont understand how it works dont be mad we knw that Grennville will not ever Be a very upscaled universty but if you cant understand what this author is trying to say thin you Dumm ….Dont Desirve to live in eastern north carolina and if your not from here go …. yourself

    • Mike

      I like many of these ideas but most of all I like the thoughtful expression of them. Allowing downtown merchants to subscribe to Pirate Bucks seems like it could work to me. A small percentage could be kicked back to ECU similar to the way credit cards work. More proximate student housing might help. There isn’t enough student housing to begin with and too much of it is on College Hill. Mainly, though, downtown needs to be interesting enough that students want to come.

      One concern about free-spirited wandering: street crime. Get street crime under control so personal safety is less of a concern. I know that in places like Chapel Hill and Boone, student involvement in the local political process led to many positive changes. Students who want to see change need to help make it happen.

      A side note: I was stunned when I came to Greenville for a home football game and there was absolutely no-one downtown. This is an influx of tens of thousands of people. Some of this influx needs to be channeled through downtown somehow. Visit Chapel Hill on game day and you will see what I am talking about. Could there be some satellite parking downtown with express bus service to the Dowdy-Ficklen entrance? The tailgate scene around the stadium is vibrant to say the least but merchants need to band together to figure out how to capture some of this market. This could be a great time to wander around downtown and explore what Greenville has to offer, but right now downtown Greenville is a ghost town on game day.

      • Katie Holland

        Street crime is not applicable during the daytime hours in which this article is speaking about. The crimes are always committed at night and while the students are drunken and vulnerable.
        If there was more of a focus on downtown during the day the amount of crime would probably decrease because of the higher amount of traffic and business in the area.

        • Anonymous

          Always? You sure?

        • It's the thought

          It has become the thought that crime occurs anywhere in Greenville at anytime that keeps people at bay. I work downtown and have no issue with walking around, however most I talk to are not that easy to persuade to do the same for whatever reason.

        • Anonymous

          I hate that I have to rebuttal, as I like downtown, however during a lunch meeting downtown I had my truck broken into and ram-sacked for its valuables.

      • Trey

        That’s the big difference between Chapel Hill and Greenville. There is no student involvement in politics here, as you can see from the results in the last city council election. It’s like pulling teeth to get a student to actually come out and vote.

    • Best article I've read...

      In quite some time. D’s 1,000,000!!!! You have my support.

  2. Taylor Riner

    I agree with the need for a thriving downtown. I moved to Greenville from a small town outside of Asheville, North Carolina, so I grew up exploring Downtown Asheville. Asheville has a thriving art and music scene, plenty of eclectic restaurants, and little cafes and shops in every nook and cranny. That is something I miss when I go back home. This is something that Greenville is definitely desperate for!

  3. Bob Storck

    It is refreshing to see an article that points out not only the present issues with a downtown that is languishing but the writer also suggests viewpoints to address the issues.

    When Carmike bought up all the local movie houses, they stipulated that they maintain control of how the old buildings were to be used. For instance the old Park/White’s theater building in the center of town cannot re-open to show movies without express permission from Carmike. So a multi-purpose performance center is difficult to sustain. There are efforts by a group supporting this (Theater Uptown) but they seem to have fallen by the wayside.

    It is my understanding that ECU Music School wanted to convert a building they own on first street into a performing arts center but those plans don’t seem to be going anywhere either.

    A quality hotel near ECU Campus and within the downtown district would also be a magnet to draw people back to downtown.

    Pirate Fest, Uptown Greenville, and the Umbrella Market do their part to draw folks but they are seasonal and could be considered as special events and not a sustaining draw.

    • preservationist

      The group supporting the Theatre Uptown project is Magnolia Arts center. The designs are in place, and currently they are holding events every couple of months to attempt to raise funds to begin the restoration. Anyone interested in having a theater downtown should visit their website. Imagine, if 1000 people donated just $10, it would be $10,000 dollars closer to opening, and some can do more!

  4. grown-up

    I am sad to say that you are so far off the mark. The problem with downtown IS the students and West Greenville. If one “strolls” around downtown, you will find bars, odd stores, graffiti and trash. All a directly related to and caused by the students and those in dire economic conditions. While I appreciate your journalistic efforts, your obvious naivety in economic matters and urban development should have prevented your editor from allowing this story to go forward into print.

    • Jennifer R.

      Grown-up….you stated “While I appreciate your journalistic efforts, your obvious naivety in economic matters and urban development should have prevented your editor from allowing this story to go forward into print.”

      I COULDN’T DISAGREE MORE. This article is thoughtful, well written, and shares a student’s point of view in a STUDENT newspaper. The author even accepted partial responsibility (as a student at ECU) for the current state of downtown Greenville. Perhaps he is not as knowledgeable as you or other “grown-ups” about our town’s economic and development issues, but he can spark a positive, lively discussion through his article.

      Why on earth would you discourage publication of an article in which a student recognizes a legitimate problem and instead of just complaining, suggests very reasonable solutions to bring about positive change?

      Angus…I’m impressed with your awareness and thoughtfulness regarding this topic. As an ECU staff member (13 years), I’m very interested in the measures ECU and the town of Greenville are taking to encourage businesses and growth along Evans and the surrounding area. I try to frequent our downtown eateries- Dale’s, Winslow’s, The Scullery- often in support of our local businesses and will continue to do so. I would love to see the Park Theater reopen- shame on Carmike! I saw a movie there when I was in school at ECU many, many, many years ago ;-) .

      Keep thinking, keep voicing your opinion (yours is one of the more inspiring opinion articles I’ve read in TEC), and keep pursuing positive solutions!

      • Kber

        Ditto. To everything.

      • Candy Pearce

        I am 61 years old and I graduated from ECU. I am, therefore, without a doubt a “grown up.” The East Carolinian is a STUDENT newspaper. This article was an outstanding example of good thinking and journalism. No one should try to apply silencing tactics to the student newspaper ever. I you don’t want to read what the brightest new thinkers have to say. . . . . don’t pick up a paper!!!

    • Lori

      I spend a lot of time downtown and I do not see trash and graffiti everywhere. In fact I see much more trash along Greenville blvd and high schools than I do anywhere downtown.

    • Drew

      Agreed. ECU 94 Plus there are too many students ECU needs to cap its population.

      • Robert D

        Capping student populations within the University system is a heinous idea. Public education at quality institutions is one of the the “foundational blocks” of the American way of life.

    • Robert D

      You jump to conclusions and put personal biases behind your responses in order to create a rather weak case which ignores the possibilities of change which accompany youthful ambition.

      As a high school business & civics and economics teacher, I can tell you that these ideas would make a change for the better if given time and a chance. Originally being from a small town just outside of Greenville, I understand your case for believing the college students are the problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere….and ultimately I do not think this is the case in Greenville.

      While in college in Boone, NC I saw student initiatives which transformed downtown Boone. Many students had/have small businesses within the downtown area which thrive and attract people to shoppes and stores. This STIMULATES economic growth.

    • Chris

      You’re not grown up, you’re ignorant. You must own a business on Greenville Blvd. and want the students to spend money at your location instead of helping to revitalize downtown. Your last statement is so childish and thoughtless that the whole comment should be flagged for removal not this opinion piece. Got a better idea, please write an opinion piece of your own.

    • Responder

      And you’ve obviously never stepped into any college town other than Greenville.

    • Discordance

      Graffiti and trash? Where? Greenville’s downtown is always pretty squeeky clean.

    • Rob Waldron

      As the owner of 519, I’ll not respond to some of the derogatory remarks about bars. But I will say however, what I’ve been telling people for years. The state and county own much of the property in the downtown area. Government almost never sells anything, at any level. You will see no growth or cultural explosions in those areas. Years ago, the bars were contained in the small area they remain in today. Rather than being spread out in a more nodal fashion as parts of more diverse “hubs,” they create somewhat of an eyesore. Most of the buildings downtown are obsolete regarding modern codes and regulations. While not insurmountable, you will rarely see private, “mom and pop” types with the ability to spend hundreds of thousands to open. The large chains that could spend this kind of money, can get more bang for their buck and a parking lot to boot outside of center city. Over the last 2 decades, ECU has become more of a technical or field specific school. There are less art, philosophy and liberal arts majors than in the past. Without denigrating anyone, I would suggest that construction management majors are not interested in socialist bookstores. Indeed, the university would rather keep student dollars on campus. In my opinion, they would rather keep all dollars OUT of downtown until they eventually have the opportunity to buy it all. That is the nature of government. It expands. There is too little parking. The list goes on, but the best way to get nothing accomplished is to point fingers and blame while nothing gets done (speaking as someone who usually has a finger pointed at him).

      • Anonymous

        Well said Rob.i agree..scotty

      • DownWith500Ft

        The infamous 500 foot rule gives existing downtown bars a monopoly which gives them no incentive to improve their buildings.

        If new bars were allowed to locate next door to old ones, horrible looking bars (Club 519 included…lets be honest) would have to clean up to keep up.

  5. Locally grown

    One of the main issues is the City of Greenville and the City Council. Anything brought before the City Council regarding the downtown district gets so heavily criticized if it doesn’t benefit the low income folks in West Greenville. One particular city council member will hardly let you finish your proposal before she interrupts with, “How will this benefit my constituents?” Certain Greenville leaders do not want the downtown area to have that Asheville feel. While it is partly ECU and ECU students fault for not standing up to this, I blame more on the Greenville residents for continuously electing city officials that have no idea what they are doing.

    • HST

      Amen to that! But don’t forget Max Ray Joyner, the Old Pirate who never grew up (maybe we should call him Captain Hook?!) and who only wants to defend and expand the bar count downtown. If he ever saw Asheville his head would explode. Hmmm… Maybe we could all chip in and fly him out there!

  6. First, stellar article, Angus!

    Second, I am in full agreement regarding students and Greenville. We tend to live in a bubble. There is ECU, and then there is Greenville. The students could tell you a bunch about the ECU community, but little about Greenville as a whole. There needs to be more integration, more community involvement. I want to see more places like the Tipsy Teapot, Sojourners, and other local businesses in Greenville, that are a good example of the integration of the ECU and Greenville communities. The students need to experience a social revolution. If we change our mindset, we can make Greenville thrive.

    And a socialist bookstore – wouldn’t that be nice ;) . I have to get my radical material online if I am to get it at all in Greenville. A wonderful example of the cafe/bookstore I have in mind is the Red and Black Cafe in Portland. Also the Bolerium bookstore in San Francisco.

    • Anonymous

      A socialist bookstore…No that wouldn’t be nice. If you don’t like capitalism move to one of the many failing socialist countries. You won’t even need a book. You can live it!

  7. Help Make Change

    This is a well written piece, but it falls short in its suggestions. I totally agree that ECU can and should do more. I too have wondered why ECU’s dining strategy has been to keep all students on campus…profits, no doubt, without a realization that the downtown is key to ECU’s success and growth as a unviersity (a point well made by the author). Also, absolutely some wise investor should make a downtown hotel/center happen… and they will be handsomely rewarded. But, where the author drops the ball is in that he doesn’t emphasize that we, as a community, all need to do our part to make change happen. Eat at the restuarants; shop at the shops; attend the events; join a commission or active organizations like Uptown Greenville and help make change happen. Whenever possible take a detour away from Greenville Boulevard chain strip and enjoy some of the fun activities and places downtown!

  8. Greenville escapee

    Thank God somebody had the balls to write/print this article. Too bad nobody in that dump of a town will listen.
    As a former resident of downtown Greenville, I am in complete agreement that the town has little to offer culturally. “Grown up” above believes the students themselves are to blame. I give them partial credit for the problem as well, but their shortcomings are largely due to their lack of culturing. I agree with the writer that this is one of the most important aspects of the college experience.
    Another consequence of this scenario is that of retention of the bright minds who are exiting ECU. After earning my terminal degree from ECU, I could not wait to escape the town. As an alumni, I can not in good conscience recommend ECU to a prospective student, and in actuality have dissuaded a number of young students from applying there. This is partially due to the shortcomings of the university itself, but also to those of the town which the writer addresses.
    As a reader, I appreciate that instead of justifiable complaints only, the writer chose to offer fresh ideas for addressing these problems. This article goes beyond the usual fluff that is to be found in The East Carolinian. Thank you, sir.

  9. joe

    It would seem “grown-up” is a tad uneducated, maybe (s)he fully embraced the ECU “experience”.

    In all sincerity, great article, too bad this dump town will never pursue such efforts.

    Also to the lovely person blaming the city council for “not knowing what too do”

    If a city council woman is elected by her constituents to help them thrive because they are in a part of town ruined by the segregated income and bigotry of this city then she is absolutely doing her job when she asks “how will this benefit my constituents”. Now I am not saying you would have to agree, but that IS their job.

    • Locally grown

      Through out the years, the City Council has made many decisions that have negatively impacted the downtown area. I do realize that representing their constituents is part of their job. However, their responsibility doesn’t stop their. They have a duty to serve the entire City. Many of the ideas brought before them would have enhanced Greenville as a whole and not just a certain segment of people. The Umbrella Market idea did not sit well with certain members because they felt that their constituents could not shop their due to their low income. So, therefore no one should have the opportunity?

  10. Kid J

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. As a student, I wish I could know more of what I can do to make these changes happen. Maybe we could have an event on campus similar to “Get a Clue” except for all the different businesses downtown?

  11. ECU Grad Student

    Great article! I am so glad to see someone write a thoughtful and well-articulated opinion piece in the East Carolinian. While not everyone will agree with everything in this column, the ability to respectfully discuss it constitutes the beauty of an opinion piece. As a graduate student at ECU who grew up right outside of DC and has lived in Chicago, I did not expect to find the same level of culture here as in a large urban area. However, I did expect to find more in Greenville than I have. I went to a very small, rural college for undergrad and was really excited about what I would find when I came to ECU. I was dissapointed with the social and cultural scene in Greenville, but I don’t think that’s any one party’s fault. I do agree that it is time downtown Greenville is known for more than its unfortunate party scene. True, the city council and ECU may not consider some of the the suggestions in this article, but the wonderful thing is that the ideas were put out there. Thoughtful dialogue had begun and I think this writer did a wonderful job.

  12. Downtown

    I completely agree with ECU investing in it’s downtown and this article! I would also like to give some props to the nonprofit organization, Uptown Greenville, who has been working hard for years to revitalize the area and it has come a long way in the past few years, but there is still a long way to go to create a vibrant downtown area. With the limited funds of a nonprofit, they have done a great job with events bringing people to the area, such as the First Friday Artwalk, PirateFest, Umbrella Market, and Freeboot Fridays. They have also assisted with facade improvements and the renovations of Five Points Plaza. Downtown should be a more exciting place than it is as 26,000 students come each day to ECU which is right next to it.

  13. person A

    One of the first things ECU should consider is raising the bar for undergraduate admissions. We have the nickname “armpit of the south” not only for the climate and the boredom greenville has to offer, but also for the empty idiotic student body that roams about half drunk and dumbfounded at ECU. Lets raise the bar…AND our reputation. A big way to change downtown greenville is to change the people who go there.

    • Marc

      Its sad that you are embarrassed by your own school. ECU is feeling a big need in NC’s public education. Not every school can be a top notch University (not saying that ECU isnt a good school) or hardly anyone would be able to attain a college education.

      P.S. you suck and should carry your self to UNC with the elitism oozing out of you.

  14. Sandy

    Love this! As a former student and recently returned resident, I have often lamented about the state of downtown. Shouldn’t it be bustling and quaint and energetic? Shouldn’t the coffee shops stay open later than 9 or 9:30 p.m.? And shouldn’t there be a small, independent movie house? Why don’t we have those things? I love Greenville, and think it’s a wonderful place to raise my children, but I believe that it can be better. I, too, envision downtown Asheville as a good place to model. We, the students and full-time residents, deserve so much better.

  15. Questions Still

    I agree with you that the city should try to push for more franchises and chains in the downtown area. I also agree that part of the responsibility lies with the students because it is up to them to actually get out of their rooms and try to explore what Greenville already has to offer. However, I’m confused by the “lacking” of the hipsters, the radicals, the eccentrics, etc. that you pointed out. I mean, what would that accomplish? I think they only flock to places that have been melting pots for decades, and even then, a lot of people just complain about their presence. I understand the feelings of boredom that arise here, but but saying Greenville needs to all of a sudden turn into Austin or Athens is a little much. What first drew crowds and attention to those towns? An established and nationally recognized football tradition that has lasted over a century. Same goes for Chapel Hill with their basketball, basebalI, and decernt football traditions. ‘m sorry, but ECU doesn’t really have that great of a tradition, and probably never will. I’m an avid Pirate fan, and will always be decked out in purple and gold on game days, but I’m being realistic. They’ll always be a middle of the road program, unless they one day get into a powerhouse conference, and even then, they’ll have to win some big games. As the case is with those other towns, which have always been bigger and had richer histories in the first place, the crowds only started to come once the school gained national attention in athletics. The more people who come to visit the town, the more franchises and business will want to come to satisfy them. In short, I understand your feelings, and can appreciate them. I just don’t know what the answer is. Students could do more, and the town could do more, but until something big happens consistently to put the town in the national spotlight, it ll be hard to take Greenville to the next tier of college towns.

    • Not sure...

      I don’t believe bringing more chains and franchises to downtown is what this is suggesting at all. If you re-read the article, it speaks mostly in favor of local business, and the culture and experiences they can add to college life. The talk of “hipsters, radicals, etc…” is more about the differing viewpoints and lifestyles they bring to the table, viewpoints that can’t be explored without the sometimes very specific kind of businesses and thriving sub-cultures that attract these groups. More chains and franchises should not be the goal here, but rather the rejuvenation of a limping local economy and culture.

    • Old Dirty

      Spoken like a true moronic sports fan. I wonder why they call Chapel Hill part of the Research Triangle? I don’t have to guess where you got your degree.

  16. Sandra Porterfield

    Agree, agree, agree! This is a very well written article and certainly addresses many of our problems. The Tipsy Teapot is a favorite of ours and there are a very few others that embody an authentic student atmosphere. Thanks for publishing this.

  17. Economic Darwinist

    Great article.

    The market responds to the demands of the public. The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of the public (the students) do not want places of culture or radical liberalism, therefore establishments like Angus suggest will not exist until demand for such places occurs. Take Tipsy, for example, they have been struggling for business for years. Their facebook statuses in the fall were pleas for customers, it was sad!

    I’ll get to my point- until the University becomes more than a joke of a degree factory and accepts students who want more than sex and beer (not that those are awful things), then the downtown area (actually, its really the uptown area) will remain an std cesspool.

    To be fair, his Pirate Bucks idea could work. I refuse to patronize the on-campus fast food places for the reasons he describes.

    • Anna Helvie

      I agree. I think a lot of ECU students come from rural, conservative places in Eastern NC and are not particularly interested in a vibrant scene that challenges how they frame the world, but rather more interested in perpetuating the culture they grew up in.

  18. Agree

    This is a great article. I think its a shame that the only time that people come downtown is for pirate fest and freeboot. It should be an area that everyone feels comfortable going to and with plenty of shops to compete with the chains on the other side of town. There are many other downtowns in this state, including college towns, that do a much better job at getting people downtown. We need to try a little harder.

  19. Pete in Wake Forest

    Very well written article. I don’t disagree with any of your ideas. As a ECU alum, I would love a nice & thriving downtown scene to visit when I come into town. According to the new ECU MASTER PLAN, the University is planning on constructing a hotel along with parking and classroom buildings in the downtown area, if I’m not mistaken. Also, a performing arts center close by downtown. Again, very nice article.

  20. Demosthenes

    When I attended ECU, among my favorite places to hangout included (but were not limited to) Starlight, Tipsy Teapot and LA Lounge. Does the latter of that list sound familiar? Chances are your answer is no, because it lasted a mere two years before closing. ‘Economic Darwinist’ premise describes the market as a reactionary setting to the demands of the majority public. This is a correct assertion with LA Lounge as a case study. The lounge, located on 4th and Evans provided the cities largest selection of martinis, and a rotating menu by season including duck, lobster and other above-average “pricey” entrees. Those hanging chairs you see in Tipsy Teapot? They were purchased from a closing auction Lounge held before locking their doors. The atmosphere was a welcoming change to the typically dirty, dark and banal scene that populates downtown 5th street.

    tl;dr: When it comes to putting on a blazer and enjoying a ten dollar martini or wearing a PacSun t-shirt and drinking penny well liquor, the public market will always opt for the latter.

    • 09alum

      I do remember LA Lounge & was very sad to see it go. It was breath of fresh air to the otherwise dirty & class-less downtown.

    • Tam

      Thank You !! Thank you so much.. for recognizing my efforts to bring something alive and fun. I learned the hard way.. harder than it should have been dealt to me the effects of bringing an idea to fruition only to haved it smoldered so drastically it almost cost me everything.

      It will take the powers that be to finally make a heartfelt decision to what is right… unltil then… Downtown/ Uptown will forever struggle.

  21. Jon

    First, I’m sorry tail-gating and tail-chasing is boring to you. I live for football and east carolina girls. Please tell me, what could be better? Second, Tom Waits sucks. Third, socialist bookstores should only exist in Russia and never in the US. Fourth, go to freaking UNC Asheville if you think its better! Get out of Greenville! Greenville is for real people who are comfortable with being themselves, instead of emulating some kind of predictable eccentricity. Fifth, be change you want to see. Why don’t you go play guitar on the sidewalk?! Sixth. Seriously? You had your first conversation about philosophy in college? Maybe you should be more concerned with your own intellectual horizon.

    • Sausage

      Jon, sounds like you’re a real upstanding member of society. “Greenville is for real people who are comfortable with being themselves”….which explains the hoards of cheap skanks all dressed in their identical black dresses on a Saturday night, and the douches that chase them with their popped collars and gelled hair. You’re right, nothing predictable about that. Enjoy your time in the frat house.

    • Doctoral Student

      You missed the whole purpose of this article. Be it as you may be comfortable with “yourself,” you may want to actually think before you rip into an article which is so well written.

  22. I’d like to see something other than bars downtown and across from the library would make a good park and reading area!

  23. Drew

    Asheville has the mountains, as well as App. State, UNC-W the beach and has a vibrant downtown as a port city. Uptown Greenville used to be hub of all activity, just as Fayeteville st. mall in Raleigh. The difference is that most of downtown is in fact bars and lawyers. Those old buildings could be nice shops and botiques, but they are owned by an elite group of folks here in Greenville. As many places there are to eat in Greenville, they mainly are the same cookie cutter type places. Winslows was an old hardware store, Hams, Wilkerson funeral home. Finally, history is not being taught in our schools and higher learning instituitonsl; therefore there isn’t a curiosity to look at the past. Students now are living in luxurious condo sites.

    • preservationist

      Their are owners of the downtown buildings looking into restoration options to bring more viable commercial spaces to the area, and that is based on the growth that has started in the downtown. I hope this message will continue to be spread, the topic discussed, and that Greenville residents, not just students will get involved and help promote this desire for a better downtown!

  24. Spencer

    I have been reading this paper for four years and this is by far the most well written, thought provoking, and inspiring article I have read. Bravo! Now if only the rest of the town will listen and turn this town into something more than an eyesore.

  25. R.E.

    One does not need to be an economist to see problems and suggest solutions–especially in an *opinion* piece.

    “Grown-up” says that the problem is the students; I believe in the mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” If you want drinkers, build bars. If you want tailgaters and tail-chasers, build skeezy clubs and chain sports bars. If you want artists, writers, and performers, build spaces where they like to congregate, perform, and create their art.

    This cannot be left to the responsibility of small business owners; time and time again, I saw small businesses close after one or two years downtown, while new chain stores popped up on G’ville Boulevard. I realized when I left the city 5 years ago that Greenville wants to cater to a particular college crowd, and doesn’t care if they stick around after college. There’s nothing to draw the artistic, intelligent, literary types to Greenville, and there’s no incentive for these types to stay in Greenville after graduation and open businesses.

    The university and the city need to work together to set the foundation for this market. That is, IF they want to make this change. Nobody says Greenville has to be like Asheville or Athens, but I’m concerned that city officials and *most* long-term Greenville residents are perfectly happy with going to Chilli’s for dinner and seeing a terrible, mainstream movie at Carmike for date night. They don’t see the beauty of a historic downtown, the need locally-owned businesses, or the benefit of being able to walk from store to store. Why put forth the time and effort to change?

    • L.B.

      Agreed! You can’t please everyone, but without a little variety to keep students and faculty engaged, both will migrate elsewhere. If we lose faculty, we lose students and then where will we be?

  26. Brooks

    Maybe you should move back to Chapel Hill if it’s that bad here. Not everyone wants to buy a Tom Waits album and sit around like a hobo on the street corner playing guitar and contemplating their existence and the meaning of life. Some people are busy living and making the best of their college years and not whining like a little spoiled emo crybaby. What a horrible article.

  27. Greenville Native

    I was born and raised in Greenville, NC and while I agree that the current state of the dowtown area leaves much to be desired, that wasn’t always the case. I can remember as a child attending movies at the Park theatre with my older brother, playing trivia with my father at the old Buffalo Wild Wings location and meeting up with friends to catch a band playing at The Flying Salsa or Perculator. I remember having dinner at the old authentic Jamaican restaurant after popping into Dapper Dan’s to check out their vintage clothing. The downtown area was an escape for my friends and I during our high school years as we could always find something to do. I think the biggest problem the downtown area faces now is the kind of people the clubs and drunken chaos are attracting. I sure as hell wouldn’t let my kid go downtown on a Friday night anymore. You’re not going to attract new businesses to the area until we can cut down on the crime and infiltration of hoodrats.

    • pat

      Glad to see someone saying the “c” word. Crime. Hello? When the crime in G-Vegas(??!!) is worse per capita than Durham? Who wants to wander downtown? The ugly truth is that people who spend money on upscale establishments, ie Starlight, Winslow’s, Dales, don’t want to be downtown much after dark. Talk to people. Crime is the topic. Control that (don’t give me all that crap about opportunity, I live in the real world) and people would be glad to support downtown businesses. And CREATE opportunity for those willing to work.

  28. Kid J

    Jon, the article doesn’t say to get rid of football, tail gating or tail-chasing in exchange for “predictable eccentricity.” I believe Angus was simply pointing out that there really isn’t that much else to do for fun around here, and without much variety. Downtown Greenville has so much potential to introduce students to things they may never have tried otherwise. I don’t see why you’re taking this article so personally.. I feel that the article is mainly addressing that downtown could use an injection of culture, a question that seeks to enrich all Greenville residents’ lives.

  29. Jersey Pirate

    Downtown needs hotels, condos, coffee shops, retail stores like GAP, along with mom and pop shops, large buildings or small scale beauty, and downtown needs residents. Greenville could be a beautiful City but invest in growing out instead of growing up. Much like in other cities if you build and make improvements to downtown, it helps drive the criminal element away. Been to other college towns which are worst and some are better. ECU and Greenville need to work together in terms of investments and planning to make downtown better and to focus on sustainable economic development. Make downtown sexy, sign here____ Jersey Pirate

  30. spencer

    The last thing i want is a bunch of hippys running around with guitars and singing in the streets. The problem with downtown is all the crime, not the students. Greenville is hood and that’s why downtown is hurting no one wants to go there because they don’t want to get stabbed. Once the crime rate goes down the town will come back to life but i don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  31. goheelsgoamerica

    As someone who grew up in Greenville but goes to school at UNC, I couldn’t agree more with this article. I grew up surrounded by drinking and skirt-chasing, and though those things remain #1 and #2 on my favorite-things-to-do list, respectively, I left Greenville because it offers nothing else. You’ll find those things in ANY college town. My ECU friends (and there are a lot) talk about how great of a party town it is–Chapel Hill is just as much of a party town, but with greater cultural and intellectual things to do. The same could be said of Raleigh, Durham, Asheville, Wilmington, and Boone, just to name other college towns in NC. High school in Greenville was fun, but I would hate to go to college there.

    Fantastic piece.

  32. Anonymous

    “I am concerned that many students leave Greenville with little more than a diploma and a hangover.” If that…uh I mean the diploma part.
    Im long gone from Gville, I cant belive its been over 12 years since I lived there. It was pretty cool , When I came back to vist and heard that CD alley had closed, I didnt belive it. That was the end IMO , it was an important soul of greenville where many people of different backgrounds met to look for the common denominator Music. Then the perc closed, so why go downtown, I thought. Oh and no backdoor skate park, with concerts?! 1$ draft and 3$ pitchers will never leave greenville, but damn , its sounds like things have gone even farther down hill.

    • Old Dirty

      Quite right. Older people talk all the time about how good it used to be. Its so sad. Its like the Middle Ages and we are waiting for the Rennaisance.

  33. Dee

    Bravo, sir! I am very impressed with this piece. I lived in Greenville for 5 years and attended ECU, and I can’t express how disappointing it was to walk around downtown at night and see all of the drunken girls wobbling around like baby giraffes in heels and the creepy dudes who stalk them. I really feel sorry for some of these kids because I can see right through their desperation for something relevant.

    Any time my group of friends attempted to have our own music events/gatherings in houses or private venues – minding our own business – the cops would show up and make everyone leave…when right next door theres a raging party with a bunch of obnoxious wailing frat boys, harrasing us. The agenda in Greenville is very limited and predictable, and you can only stand it for so long until its time to flee.

    Shout out to Christy’s Europub and Tipsy Teapot!


    • Old Dirty

      I never understood why the police want to crack down on rock bands and not the booty shaking clubs. Surely they are breaking more laws than indie bands. Crime and the police are a big problem here.

  34. robin

    @jon i think the larger point is simply that options are good things. it’s possible to like both independent bookstores and football. also, easy on tom waits. he has some nice ballads. ‘grapefruit moon’ and ‘time’ come to mind.

  35. Mac

    I agree completely that Greenville needs to do more to revitalize their down town. I think if alumni jumped on board and started pressuring ECU to start looking into assisting the city with this project things will go a lot better. Students are already going to down town… How many times have you walked to Chico’s to eat because you were tired of campus food? They obviously go to party and buy their books. Why not bring in more speciality shops? Have the Art Department have an Art Studio that offers different classes for local hobbiests and allows the students to sell their art work? I think that if the Board of Directors really sits down to look into this project a lot more could be done!

  36. concerned citizen

    As someone who has attended ECU……..the reason is this.

    ECU attracts people who want to shun responsibility (me at the time). Yes i understand there is a niche group of medical students and other people excelling but o well, there degrees will be worth shit because of the perseption. Trust me im in HR. ECU attracts people with the “frat” mentality. trust me its the downfall of our society keeping with “tradition” of segrigation, ignorance, predudice, and godcomplexities. Frat people are the ones who grow up and work for goldman sacs and destroy countless human lives. They turn into “good ole boys” and corrupt judges and officials. And 9 times out of 10 the frats are selling the cocaine (trust me).The FRAT SLORE (i know cliche) student body is why greenville is in the horrible state of decline. Visite UNC charlotte, Asheville, App, wilmington….now those are college towns. IF you go to ECU get out now like me and someother smart people did. It will ruin your life.

    (from extensive experience and the best intentions) Concerned Citizen.

    • Greenville proud

      concerned citizen, you obviously have issues with ECU. Probably flunked out. You cite unc-charlotte and wilmington as college towns!?? What a joke. One is a commuter school and the other is no more than a large community college.

      • Anonymous

        I did not. i tranfered out and graduated from UNC wilmington. A school with people who have much better heads on there shoulders. Let me guess? your an ECU freshman with all that “pride”. Hve you been to wilmington or charlotte? The community is much better and actually trys to produce students. Have you actually been to ECU? So which is the commuter school and which is teh community college and which is the one pumping out degrees that are absolutely trash?

        I cant deal with your ignorance you got anything else?

    • Alumnus of 2010

      You sound like a real winner that people should be listening to. Degrading the school with pointless curse words and talking about educational opportunities and how much you know when you can’t even spell “perception,” “segregation,” and “prejudice” correctly (among other things). It sounds like you need to go hang out with your Occupy Wall Street buddies and leave the good people of Greenville alone.

      For the record, ECU medical school graduates are some of the most highly-respected in the nation (especially as general practitioners) — and no, I’m not a Brody student. Same goes for some of the undergraduate students. I graduated from ECU several years ago, and having its name on my diploma certainly didn’t dim my job/grad. school prospects. In fact, it was the opposite, having a degree from ECU actually opened up several opportunities that I might not otherwise have had. Sure, ECU has a reputation for being a party school, but, last time I checked, a little partying was part of being in college. Unlike many ECU students, I never partied during my time there (in fact, I never so much as went downtown other than to eat at Cubbies), and I think the over-generalizations of ECU students as “skanks” and tail-chasers (as other folks have stated on here) is ridiculous. Nonetheless, for the students who choose to do that, there’s nothing wrong with it. They’re just trying to enjoy the last few years of their lives that they’ll actually get to do it. After they graduate, they won’t have time to do anything other than try to fix our country’s economy after idiots like you are finished with it.

      Next, why would anybody “trust” you because you’re in HR? The fact that you’re already prejudiced against ECU indicates that NO ONE should trust you and your libelous comments. If you don’t hire people because they graduate from ECU, that certainly isn’t indicative of wider decisions not to do so.

      Finally, the fact that you define yourself as one of the “smart people” says it all. If it were not so sad, it would be laugh-worthy.

      • Anonymous

        You agreed with me if you didnt notice.I praised the medical students as they were the only people i had respect for. My grammer and spelling is not up to par because im on my lunch break and wanted to get my message out as i doubt ill ever find myself on this site again. You are correct i was being belligerant and rash. But you did agree with me even if you dont acknowledge it.

        HR is a broud term. Im an upper manager and make over 6 figures a year and i attribute this to leaving ECU

        • Anonymous

          Also, as someone who as admitted to being an “outcast” of ECU and did not party. How can you tell me about the state of mind of the students I lived with, partied with, Skipped class with, and shunned responsibility with.

          Please dont comment on people “enjoying the last few weeks” when i saw HUNDREDS of studet\nts flush THOUSANDS of there parents dollars away after throwing in the towel. Most of the kids threw in the towell after only a month.

          I understand your emotion, i shared it at one time. I was a die hard pirate. But i have grown up.

          • Anonymous

            Also you will learn “alumni of 2010″ that the real world is not what you or i was sold. I am lucky to have a job right now. College had nothing to do with it just logic and hard work.

            You will soon find out that college means very little to people who understand the way the world works. Managers like my self and my peers are hiring off of experience purely. I dont want to train someone with a piece of paper in this economy. You will find that degree to be not worth anywhere near the 40k (120k out of state) debt you are surely feeling the pressure of now :) .,
            I hope you were in the 1 % percent of your graduating class….how are your peers doing with job success if i may ask?
            Good luck and be “smart” (even if you dont agree that i am)

    • Greek Life

      Sounds like someone didn’t get a bid…

  37. @Jersey_Black

    The author is correct here … ECU has the grounds to build a vibrant downtown. Know what the problem is though? The hundreds, if not thousands of hoodrats located just a few blocks away. Flatten the hood, Greenville will prosper. This may seem racist, but that is the reality of the situation. The number one problem in Greenville is the black population adjacent to downtown, and to a lesser extent those in the area between JH Rose and the hospital.

    Some of you are correct in your assessment that the City administration is to blame for what is becoming a growing problem, an ever expanding ghetto with increased violent crimes and borderline class warfare. Instead of putting the collective foot on the throat of this problem, however, the City has decided to placate the dredges of society with a “dream park”. A park that will no doubt in time be assimilated by the tribal antics of west Greenville’s “citizens”.

    Push the people out of the ghetto. Force the black cancer out of the city. Flatten the crack houses, rebuild the city. Then, and only then, will you see progress.

    • Greenville proud


    • preservationist

      Please don’t reply saying flatten the “hood.” I agree that the west greenville area is a problem, and currently they are tearing down the buildings and replacing them with standard one story brick ranch low income housing. I would propose their is a better option. Their are fantastic old houses down there, and as has been proven in other cities and many economic studies, revitalization of a historic district is hugely beneficial to the development of the community. This district is located directly between the hospital and the college. I believe it should be restored, using grants from the city, and it could become a highly desirable place for everyone from professors to doctors to live.

  38. James

    The School cannot do this alone and as much as i love the ideas you have put out here I can say it will not happen. The city of greenville as it is currently run would never remove the rules and regulations they have in place that hinder some of the potentially great things you mentioned here. As a former patron/employee of the down town area I must agree it is now very lacking… especially in the live music area. Ohh Peasant’s Cafe/Attic how we miss you.

  39. Claire

    I couldn’t agree more. But as long as people treasure Starbucks rather than beverages from independent shops like the tipsy teapot–that is the downtown you will have. Downtown Greenville has every possibility of having a wonderful “college town” appeal, but the residents of Greenville and students of ECU need to come together and make it what it should be. Until then it will continue to be populated with a few shops and a bunch of sub-par bars. I wish more for ECU.

  40. Agreed...but...

    I agree with all of your points and ECU agrees. Check out their master plan options:


    No final decision has been made because there is NO $$$$$$$.

    • Old Dirty

      They got money. Fire some of these many co-assistant directors that are just bureaucrats (look that word up, ECU staff member).

  41. Paul E

    Great article with great suggestions. This town loses most of it’s good folks as soon as they graduate, which is why nothing really gets any better. Those who stay are typically those who like things they way they are. Some of us (who yearn for that eccentric college town/downtown feel the author describes) try and hang on, hoping for the best, but I’ve been here for 13 years now including my time with ECU as a student and staff member, and I’ve watched so many great downtown venues/bars/restaurants close down with nothing filling the void left behind.

    It’s also true that without intervention from ECU and the city, not much will change. Not many businesses risk the whole “if you build it, they will come” deal, so downtown will remain a mediocre nightlife spot, mainly consisting of cheap bars, with the only differences being which genre of popular music blasts out of the DJ’s laptop.

    Best we can do as citizens is patronize the local downtown businesses, art galleries, restaurants, hit the uptown market, barefoot fridays, piratefest, etc etc, and keep pushing city council for a better Greenville.

  42. olddude

    try asking some of the older crowd,back in the days of the Rat (Rathskeller)the origional Attic,for the preps and greeks the Buck (Buccaneer)Wimpies….it was a different and era,but the feelings still exist,downtown was the greatest place on earth,and stillcould be .

  43. Steven

    Great article, very eye-opening. Glad to see someone else is on the same page as me. I loved my time as a student at ECU, but Greenville itself needs a facelift. And everytime I check the news, it seems to be always negative regarding shootings or fast food restaurants getting robbed, etc. The downtown…excuse me…”Uptown” scene is so blah. The clubs are trashy and a joke. Especially for young professionals…there is NOTHING. There is so much potential for Greenville and the University but their “leaders” are so closed-minded and choose to be reactive rather than proactive.

  44. Charles

    I hate to inject politics into it but this is about ECU, so I feel I am justified. I would have much rather seen this article without the impression that we need more hippies on the streets playing the guitar or more coffee shops to make it a great college town. Nothing wrong with that but you don’t have to have “weirdness” left or right to make it a great college town. A good mix of it is always good and if she had wanted more fire and brimstone, I would have said the same. Just write the piece and leave out anything that does not stay right down the center. This is not a ideologic issue. This issue will take liberals and conservatives to fix and she has already crossed the line.

    Politics aside, I agree that the overall college town experience has changed alot, some of the blame/credit goes to this generation’s student. Five to six years ago ECU did its homework when they decided to bring all of the restaraunts onto campus. If I remember correctly, they surveyed students incoming and outgoing and one of the top requests was to have more food selections on campus (which alot of campuses now have). They now have more dining halls and more varieties of food.

    I completely agree that the downtown area needs alot of help and ECU can be a player. I don’t think ECU has snubbed it’s nose at the idea though. I believe there was a group put together about 2007 to look at this. Seems like I recall that ECU was willing to put up several million and then in 2008 the economy went south and its been a tight budget ever since with little wiggle room. I believe the Performing Arts Center and a hotel was to be tied into this too. ECU had to cut $49 million from their budget this fiscal year and budget cuts over the last four years now exceed $140 million.

  45. grad_student

    The main reason downtown is not great is because it’s on the edge of a scary part of town. For example: the houses on fifth street by the railroad tracks are abandoned and falling apart. It’s a shame.

  46. Marshall

    I know that elon does this thing called phoenix cash, it’s just like pirate bucks, but phoenix cash can be used at various businesses all around elon and the city surrounding elon, burlington. so that idea is something that could be done… ECU just needs to support it! We don’t have pep rallies, nothing goes on on campus after 5 any day, or on the weekends. The university needs to encourage events downtown. They need to do stuff during the day on saturdays, not free boot fridays. Ballard is trying to get out of here anyways from what I’ve heard, I hope he goes too. ECU needs another Leo Jenkins! And the community has supported ECU for years, it’s time that we support them back. Chapel hill has historic franklin street, with places like top of the hill, and the old well is just a short walk from that. Their campus isn’t a section of chapel hill… it is intertwined with most of the community. That’s what ECU needs to do!

  47. Bull Dozer

    ECU should buy all of the businesses/buildings on 5th street to GUC. Bull doze all of it. Hear me out before shooting me down as a demon to our “wonderful” and “historic” downtown (it will never be uptown to me).

    Put together a well designed plan and look that keeps with the historic look, but adds updated safety features and codes. Even possibly recycle many of the bricks. Make mixed use facilities – housing above retail. There can be bars, stores, restaurants, coffee houses, etc (leased to private tenants and not state/ECU run) and have apartment/dorm housing above. ECU police could be responsible for patrolling the area in the evenings and subsidized by the student housing above, thus taking some burden off GPD.

    Defining a strategy ahead of time to space out and plan which facilities could sell alcohol and which could be nightclubs would allow for safer zoning and extra sound insulation for the apartments above as needed.

    It is a win-win (2x) for the city, university, local businesses and the students. Probably to forward thinking though for this city council.

    • preservationist

      so much more can be done using the existing building stock. They can be retrofitted to be brought up to current codes, and it is both more cost effective and more green!

  48. Wonderful! A very great read! Most students that we run into are wanting to expand and grow ECU’s downtown life to what is was 3 or some years ago. Other Schools like NCSU, UNCW, and UNC are growing with student based events that are all successful. That is our main goal, to bring more events for the students so they will get the full college experience at ECU. A lot of other Event planners have had the wrong idea of promoting under age drinking and mostly alcohol which is the wrong way to go about it! Dj’s, Student Talent, and Just bringing back life to ECU is the correct and best way to go about promotions here.

    We do Plan on making ECU lively with big events and hopefully have the trust of the City of Greenville as well as the Students and Staff of ECU too. Let’s all work together to clean the streets of Greenville and keep the art inside Uptown art please? :) Thanks!

    East Carolina Party Animals
    Soigne Entertainment

  49. Patrick

    I’ve lived in Greenville since 2005 when I came to school, I earned 2 degrees and haven’t left, partly because I have grown accustomed to Greenville, I like living here. My wife and I live on 1st street. I like being close to the greenway and close to campus and close to downtown, even though it’s not the greatest. I agree with everything in this article, and this is the best piece of writing I think I’ve ever read in this paper, most of the time the student paper is only concerned with pirate rants and putting nude photos on the cover, but this is really good. I will admit that I have wanted to move out of Greenville, possibly back to Raleigh where I’m from, or any where that has a really good down town social scene. UNC has a great down town, Ashville as well, hell even state has a good down town, partly because that’s where campus is, but it is still full of great independent shop, restaurants, book store, music stores(which Greenville doesn’t have a GOOD music store) etc… there is nothing to bring any one there. Most of the spaces down town are empty as well. It’s almost as if we have just accepted the fact that Greenville will always be a party town. I hope that the City of Greenville will read this article and that it will prompt them to want to change and make Greenville a better place, so that other people will want to visit Greenville, not just for school, but just to come here for a day trip. My wife and I do that all the time to places nearby, like Newbern, Washington, Beaufort etc… because if it’s down town charm and history!

  50. preservationist

    As a historic preservation major, I preach this constantly. Moreover, their are many economic studies that support the financial aspect of this. I will say downtown has grown leaps and bounds in the last ten years. The author thinks it’s ba…d now, they should have been here a decade ago. However there is so much more that could and should be done, that would benefit all residents of greenville. Unfortunately, the planning department and other town leaders do not embrace this concept, I hope in time they will, but I doubt I will be around to see it.

  51. GoPiratesGoBlue!

    I am a very proud ECU Alum that currently works for the University of Michigan. I loved my time at ECU and remember it fondly. However if given the choice to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a college town with a vibrant downtown scene with great “town and gown” relations, or Greenville, I am going to pick Ann Arbor every time. Go Pirates!

  52. A Pirate and a Pirate Mom

    Another part of the problem is safety. Since Greenville has added multiple apartment complexes away from the University that has attracted students with pool complexes and exercise facilities – students have chosen those locations instead of the bungalow homes across from the University back to 3rd street. In place of the students – landlords are having to accept others as tenants including Section 8 housing tenants which has an element associated with it. There have been multiple altercations – muggings, robberies, etc – all around the University and downtown area – to the point that I have encouraged my student to not go downtown unless they are with a crowd. The lighting in the areas around downtown needs to be addressed – safety phone boxes also need to be installed not to mention the area being patrolled extensively. Maybe our next police chief will be more aggressive in dealing with crime in Greenville. As far as the councilwoman asking how bettering downtown would benefit her constituents – any effort to better Greenville will benefit her constituents. Adding jobs would better her constituents. A safer community would better her constituents. I would recommend adding condos in the downtown area – anywhere people live, they get involved in the day to day flow of life and ultimately make it a safer place with watchdog groups. The late 70′s in Greenville was a time where we felt totally safe to walk the streets and the downtown was full of stores that many frequented. How about redoing the storefronts and making the area more appealing? How about a sports bar like the new one at the mall? Why not put restaurants like the Mellow Mushroom down there to help draw families? Hams closed – in my opinion – because no families went after dark due to safety factors. A really nice hotel would help a lot! We need to take Greenville back!!!

    • A Pirate and a Pirate Mom

      My wife is brilliant… Pirate 4 life speaking, BS 77 & BSBA 79. May I remind a few cultural experiences, Crows Nest, God Bless Chris Browing, Fuzzy where ever you are. The real “Attic”, awesome music and good times. The real Elbow Room, where I met my future bride….Chapter X, great beach music, PTs much foos ball, etc,etc,etc… the list goes on……plus I gained a great education which I have used for the greater good of my family, fellow man, and the profitability of my employers…. Greenville is Greenville, lets focus on what it takes to make it great and claim it from the demise of excuses and negligence. Those that love ECU, Greenville and want to make a positive difference lets get busy…..

  53. I remember when

    I love that there is such a great conversation cultivated from this article. Downtown has changed hughley because of increasing crime but also the type of places that are developed there. If you want to make comparisons to other college towns they use the older homes to create eclectic shops,restaurants and consignment stores. Also DT use to thrive with Nickel drafts on Fridays ,happy hour,neat little bands @ the New Deli and Attic and college students like bars and dancing and usually do not show self control..but that is part of the growing up process for some. You can not compare apples to oranges and thats what you do in comparing Chapel hill,Ashville, Boone ,Wilmington to Greenville or ECU. I love cobble streets,Ice cream stores,coffee shops, movies,/book shops great atmosphere,good food,,,hanging lights in trees and people walking up and down the streets enjoying each other. Variety.It use to be just that way. For years it seemed when something new was built it was a steak house ,gas station or a drug store chain on all opposing corners. . Business moved from DT to Arlington square village and the plaza became a mall. We also had Carolina east mall which also died. Everything developed away from DT. We seem to get bored easily.. we take our business to Raliegh , the beach or the Mountains. The beach and Boone, those are small close knit areas ..but they thrive on the Arts and music,unique stores. We had alot to offer..but whoever makes choices for the developement of Greenville has spread us out with boring options. Yeah ..to the Mello Mushroom and Bone fish grill. Yeah to the idea of develping the park..maybe movies in the ampha theater and a small orchestra to dance to in the park . Sidewalks everywhere . Everyone wants to complain but knowone wants to develope around our gifts. . A performing Arts center would be awesome..I don’t have solutions and I probably spelled some words wrong..but I do miss the way DT use to be in the early 80′s..It was alot of fun,Lots of great memories and who cares if someone wants to play guitar on the sidewalk..especially if their good..

  54. Jamey T

    Having graduated in 1993, some of my best memories of are Cubby’s Shrimpburgers and of Vinters.

    Unfortunately I haven’t been back in decades but a great deal of what you describe today was still the case in the early 1990′s.

    I think finding a way for local businesses downtown to be able to tap in to the Pirate Bucks system, coupled with an investment in a nice hotel could start the ball rolling.

    I wish you all good luck.

  55. Greenville Transplant

    This article hits the nail on the head to say the least. I did not go to ECU but have a sister and cousin who do. I moved to greenville a year and half ago and work at the hospital. I graduated 2 years ago from a college in one of those “college towns” the article was talking about. The town it self was smaller then greenville and had so much more to do whether it be live music, local businesses, and local events/festivals. Its amazing that there isn’t more to do here and I was astounded being the univeristy and the huge hospital bringing in so many people every year. I feel the lack of events to keep people entertained is why people consider this town “transitional” when it really shouldn’t be. The univeristy and hospital alone should keep people here but I really feel everyone leaves due to lack of events and things happening.

    Thanks again for the article. It’s nice that I am not the only one who was feeling this way.

  56. Angle

    There isn’t even a decent place to see live music. I went to ECU from 92-96, and then we still had the Attic, O’Rocks and Peasants for live music. Try to go see a band now. I live in Pitt Co. still, and I still go out about once a month to see live music, and I always wind up in Chapel Hill, Raleigh or even Myrtle Beach. Yes, ECU needs more culture…and with decent venues more tax dollars would be spent here in our county. This money could be used to revitalize the downtown area even more.

  57. Pirate Alum in NYC

    Greenville has to do a better getting businesses to locate downtown. Offer tax incentives or something which will bring a large workforce downtown. Thsi would offer a daytime crowd which would shop and spend dollars downtown. When I attended ECU in the late 1990s, I worked part-time at the Bank of America building and our office would always go to Greenville Blvd or 10th street for lunch as Andy’s, Omar’s, and Chicos were really the only options. Second, Greenville needs to allow for zoning and for places such as high-rise apartments and condos. Without residents, downtown and businesses which locate downtown will not thrive. It could be a mix of college students and young professionals. Third, Greenville needs to create an entertainment district which features cafes, bars, live music, art, clubs, museums and etc. Last, Greenville need $$$ and help from the business and big money community to revamp downtown.

  58. call me a snob but

    It still amazes me that my parents let me attend school in Greenville after growing up in a major metro area. The downtown needs a bomb to drop in order for the good old boys to consider revitalization. The school needs to push for a decent hotel in Greenville (and no the Hilton is not one). THe school will attract better students if the town had more to offer. Kids from higher income families can bring more dollars to Greenville. It is plain and simple but people need to accept change,

  59. Former ECU Student

    I was a student at ECU in 1972 and believe me, downtown Greenville was alive then! Belk was still downtown and doing a great business. Olde Town Inn sold a million meat and 3 veggie plates in a sit down restaurant that seated a maximum of 50 people. The deli (I forget the name) across the street had a killer Philly Cheesesteak sub. There were record shops and bookstores. There was UBE for those students not able to pay the price in the school based book store. All of this activity was a mere ten minute stroll down Fifth Street. Downtown had several great pubs, The Rathskeller, The Attic are two that come to mind. Downtown was definitely fun,

  60. former pirate

    Another thing ECU can do is offer local restaurant foods on campus. I am pursuing a second degree at UNC-CH and one of their dinning places offers meals from local deli’s and restaurant from the area. That way students can taste and if they like it enough they can return to the restaurant. Just a good way to encourage student to step out of the usual chikc-fil-a/subways/whatever else they have on campus.

  61. The Truth

    All of the “clubs” smell like piss and vomit. Please demolish them, especially 519, the OP, Levels, and the Tank.

  62. Jules

    I was in downtown Greenville last month for the first time in almost thirteen years and was pretty much speechless at condition of the area. Like many posters above I have great memories of downtown during my time at ECU in the early-mid 90′s. Now the place looks pretty ghetto, run down, and not somewhere you would find me after dark. Granted downtown wasn’t a showcase in the 90′s either, but it at least offered something to students and we took advantage of it (remembering Pantana Bobs, Attic, Elbow Room, Sharkey’s, Sports Pad, Tiki Bar, BW3′s, Boli’s, Omar’s, Bogie’s). Today is a much different picture and I felt heavy in my spirit for the current students because they are without something that made my college experience even better. I love ECU and hope those with influence and power will realize the gem that needs to be rediscovered. I would love for my kids to attend ECU in a few years, but don’t see it happening without some serious improvements around the university.

  63. Liz Wetzel

    As someone who grew up in Greenville, I can not agree more with this article. As a kid I used to think Greenville was awesome because of the people I grew up with and once I got to college that idea started to dwindle a little bit. You realize that there isn’t that much to do around Greenville besides party. There are a few parks and a few coffee shops to go to besides the usual Starbucks/DunkinDonuts and there is Christy’s EuroPub for a low key night. But as a now adult in Greenville, I definitely think that it needs a boost! There are so many strong individuals who are doing their best to revitalize the downtown area and credit should be given to those people! These people such as Claire Edwards and her father Don Edwards have definitely taken an initiative to move downtown or “Uptown” Greenville in the right direction, especially with the art and music scene. They are trying to restore the old theatre downtown, it is an ongoing project and hopefully they will be able to finish it one day as well as other buildings. Rome was not built in one day. As for the socialist coffee shop and hipsters…well the hipsters are already here and as for an awesome coffee shop….Tipsy Teapot & The Scullery are high on my list. I have high hopes for my hometown. I have been trying so hard to leave Greenville, not because its an awful place, but because there are barely any opportunities for my career choice. So for all of you bashing Greenville because you think its the worst place to be, think again. But hey if you don’t like it, then move.

  64. Jeff

    So “culture” is blindly following what other college towns do? So the only college experience that matters is your idea of what a college experience should be? Somehow the Tipsy Teapot is a better experience than Krispy Kreme? So you want economic development from Capitalist so they can build radical, socialist bookstores and have kids sitting on the sidewalks playing guitar? This is Greenville, NC. If you want the unique college experience of ECU and Greenville then go get a bbq sandwich and a glass of sweet tea. I guarantee you will not get that in San Francisco. What you want is a “unique” college atmosphere that is just like everywhere else.

  65. carl

    if it wasn’t for the growing population of “G-Vegas” as it’s commonly called, there wouldn’t be such a crime rate, and there wouldn’t be so many stupid laws limiting the socializing, either….

  66. Brant

    Couldn’t agree more with this article. I live close by to Greenville, and I can say this place isn’t all that great. It just makes me sad that when I tell new people i just met that I go to ECU, the guys immediately respond, “bro, i heard the girls are wild there” and the girls probably think “this guy is a drunk frat guy”. That image sucks. And I believe that downtown is one of the biggest issues with ECU. This is my senior year and I haven’t once wanted to head down there on a “going out” night because it makes me sad.
    Lets do something with this place.

  67. Something also worth knowing: residents of Greenville are not happy with the way students are treating it. There have been a ton of complaints from residents at public forums regarding trash and taking care of the property. This is more directed at the Fraternities, but it really depends on who owns the property. We students need to integrate ourselves more within the community. We can potentially help revitalize the economy of this city. If we get more involved, and outside of the ECU bubble, residents will look more positively on us and Greenville will experience many more beneficial effects.

  68. Former Pirate (shamefully), Current TarHeel (for life!) !

    ECU and Greenville will NEVER be able to compete with Chapel Hill, Downtown/Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, or even Boone…there is absolutely no pride because let’s face it, the ECU student body is made up almost EXCLUSIVELY of students who only go there because it’s the only school they got into…either that or they are actually from the Eastern part of NC and feel some sort of hometown pride in that backwater craphole.

    Luckily, if you don’t partake in the ridiculous amount of binge drinking that goes on there, and go against the common practice there and actually attend classes, you can do really well there and get a very high GPA your freshman year so you can transfer to NC State or , even better, CAROLINA, like I did!

    • Mountaineer

      hahahaha, even UNC-W will provide you with a better future than ECU ever will!

    • Anonymous

      It happens in Chapel Hill too bro, seen it been there….lift up your fellow man…

      • Former Pirate (shamefully), Current TarHeel (for life!) !

        “It happens in Chapel Hill too bro, seen it been there”….

        Well I have no idea what you are referring to happening in Chapel Hill (it certainly wasn’t the campus being evacuated because of a man with an umbrella).,,,but either way. thank you for proving my point with your attempt to make a sentence with the “seen it been there” comment.

        I know there are some very hard working students at ECU, especially those there on scholarship who are truly trying to better themselves. But unfortunately for them, their degree will never be as valuable as those of more selective and academically stimulating universities because the overwhelming majority of their fellow Pirates only came to college to drink and party and don’t take school seriously.

        If you want Greenville’s downtown and commercial areas to cater to a hip, educated, sophisticated crowd; you’d have to first have said crowd in town to begin with! Where you stand right now, the bulk of the ECU and PCC student bodies don’t really fit that description.

  69. Andistan

    Great Article.

    In the past two years ECU’s Student Activities Board, remember they brought Ludakris here for $90k, has stopped funding the Youth Arts Festival and Pirate Fest (and are trying hard to stop funding other cool events) Why? Because they are off-campus and may put student fee money into the local community. Shame on this!

    How hard would it be to open up Pirate Bucks to Uptown businesses?

    We should be protesting, but where do we start? Who do we protest? What do we protest for? It’d be as useless as OWS.

    • Anonymous

      Students should have better options for on campus entertainment than the current selections for the current semester of a few comedians and a hypnotist. I am all for having a variety of events, but as @andistan mentioned, the SAB spent $90K for one artist instead of spreading out the allotment of funds for a few more well-known, less expensive artists to would appeal to a bigger selection of students. It also turns off students that are not fans of hip-hop(of which I am a fan) when it does seem that the SAB is booking a majority of those types of artists for on campus events.
      The clubs downtown are only catering to the drinkers and refuse to play anything else outside of dance music and Top 40 or hire live bands. There is no outlet for those students that like live music in town save the Tipsy Teapot whose owner is hurting herself by not allowing bands to play cover songs and therefore turning off many bands that incorporate covers into their shows.
      ECU needs to hire someone to oversee the activities that has a clue what is current and relevant to college students. Downtown needs to be given a new lease with some new venues that would cater to the residents and students that are looking for some culture and music.

      • Old Dirty

        Would someone please tell Delia that playing covers is not a crime? Who told her this? Sheesh. Even better: CAN WE PLEASE OPEN A LIVE MUSIC VENUE?!

  70. Greg aka "GMoney"

    I completely agree!!! I graduated in 08′ and I haven’t been back in town until the VT game this past season. The downtown was never the most vibrant in my tenure but I was still amazed about how many stores were closed. The crime and the violence doesn’t help either (RIP Kirby). There is some much potential downtown but it seems like some people and businesses aren’t tapping into it. It’s puzzling, but I’m all for a reform with aid from the school. I think we are set now on stadiums and athletic upgrades (not that I mind them) but throw some money downtown and truly invest in that awesome potential atmosphere.

  71. Dave

    It is good to see we have the typical people come by and some how try to make the connection that the student body of ECU is somehow responsible for major downtown construction projects. You are obviously mis-guided if you believe that unc-w, appy st. or unc-a provide a level of education better than ECU. All 3 of those schools combined can not offfer as many PhD programs as ECU. None provide professional degrees. What does Hillsborough St/ Franklin St. have? Primarily bars. Where is most of the shopping in Raleigh? Hillsborough? Of course not. It is in the malls and shopping centers far away from the University. We also have people complaining about tuition increases but now want ECU to buy all of downtown and bulldoze it?!?! It was pointed out before but how silly is it that the author wants capitalist to invest capital so hippie, socialists can play guitar in the streets. Actually that is what all lib/socialist think!!

    • david carpenter

      i don’t think anyone is suggesting ECU buy downtown properties and “bulldoze”. I think the idea is revitalization of the buildings already in existence.

  72. ProgresiveThinker

    You forget that you are located in Eastern NC where people can barely use the internet and don’t appreciate culture. I’ve lived here for a while and love this place but it’s backwoods. This town is full of people who don’t want change and don’t want the town to really move forward. Greenville is a town where a few people own just about all the business property which gives them a monopoly. (looking at you Brody) They keep the rent super high which doesn’t allow new business to start and grow.

    You have a two colleges with lots of smart people and their skills are wasted or not put to good use solving issues in the town. This town has so much wasted opportunity.

    Greenville will be the next kinston one day.

  73. Marc

    I dont find much wrong with our DT Angus. You seem to have more of a problem with the ECU student body and the type of person that is attracted to our DT scene than anything else.

    If you think it affects athletics you need to think again, i dont think your typical D1 college recruit is looking for coffee shops, book stores and hipsters playing music on the streets.

  74. 09alum

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. While I have had conversations with Greenville natives about this very subject, I truly appreciate seeing it all in writing, followed by the prospering ideas to change the state of the atrocity we call “downtown”. Hopefully I’m still in the area to see any of these changes make way.

  75. william wallace

    Good article but a little reactionary. Yes, down town needs an overhaul. No question. Would ECU be better for it? Yes. Is ECU doomed if this takes 1 year or 20? No. While no one is beating on drums in a drum circle like they do in Asheville down town that hardly dooms a college. Socialist book stores and street preachers also dont make or break a university. Lets talk about what ECU does have. No, we cant bring a football recuit in and ask them to embrace the tree hugging they may see at Chapel Hill at ECU. But we can show them nice facilities, good off campus housing, lets face it, most of the parties and good times are had at the off campus housing near campus. They can show a football game athmosphere that tail gates from the river up to the mall and points in between and for the real pirate exploreres there are day trips to the beach and the love affair you find with the people of Eastern NC when venturing outside of the city limits maybe to visit some of the local BBQ. Servire….isnt that our motto? Serve the East? Then we better embrace what we have, explore the East and learn the East. And if we get a socialist coffee shop/book store while we are doing it, sure, I will support it. I will bring my kids to it when leaving town after a football game and show them how they better not turn out if they are going to get ahead in the world. ARRRGGGHHH!

  76. Heidi W.

    This is a great article! Downtown Greenville has such good bones. It could be so charming and attract a lot of people, not only students. It would be much in the university’s interest to throw their support and $$$’s behind the revitalize DT Greenville movement. One of my children has lived in Greenville for close to 15 years and I come there often. During a recent visit, we drove through the neighborhood just across from the university on 5th street. I was saddened to see that it seems to be deteriorating somewhat (as also pointed out by “A Pirate and a Pirate’s Mom”). In my opinion, this will hurt the university if allowed to continue. I love this little city, but yes, it could be so much more.

  77. New Bern Resident

    I couldn’t agree more with the fact that Greenville stinks. If there was anything interesting in Greenville I might actually go there. Unfortunately there is nothing special about Greenville. Honest to goodness, I went to Greenville ONCE last year because there is a Fresh Market! If there were a decent downtown area, maybe, just maybe Greenville’s neighboring cities would lend to the local economy. For now we’ll continue to take our stay-cations in much more interesting and culturally aware towns. Towns with interesting locals. Towns with more than one appealing area of town. Towns with fresh, local, and seasonal restaurants as opposed to the overwhelming mass of corporate restaurants and fast food joints. Towns with mature night life as opposed to stumbling, trash talking, wasted kids fresh out of high school. Mostly if the city of Greenville didn’t EXCLUSIVELY cater to ECU and its students it could be a nice little place to visit. YOU CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER GREENVILLE!! TRY A LITTLE HARDER!!

  78. Candy Pearce

    MUNICIPAL SERVICE DISTRICT!! It’s something solid the City Council could do!!!

  79. Juanita

    What an EXCELLENT article! It was well written and thought out, not only pointing out some of the downtown shortcomings but offering realistic solutions to the problems. I grew up in Greenville and graduated from ECU. I agree and can recall my Dad going downtown after church each Sunday to buy a paper and my Mom taking us shopping for clothes or shoes and eating while we were out and my sister and I meeting friends for movies. Downtown need a couple “big box” stores and the support of the citizens of Greenville not just students. Very few stores can survive summer and spring breaks if students are their only customers. How about a movie theatre downtown? There use to be two there. It just takes a look at the past to give guidance to what will work now. However no one will put a store where there is no foot traffic, so the council will have to work to ensure businesses a fighting chance with subsidies until the traffic can work itself up. It needs a variety of businesses and Greenville needs to be famous for more than the University. With the river as a nice downtown attraction they should be concerts, farmer’s markets, art shows, etc. they have got to find something to attract folks from other cities to Greenville besides a bar scene. I’d love to see the city grow up but it seems no one is seriously interested in it being more than what it is.

  80. melifluous

    I loved this article and have enjoyed reading the comments. As someone who (1) was raised in Greenville in a social group that was well connected, (2) moved away for college and grad school, and (3) still comes back to visit family 2-3 times a year, here is what I think is missing in the comments and the article:

    What is missing is the fact that Greenville’s wealth is held in the hands of a few – the “old boys network” if you will. A white, hetero-normative, conservative group, that intends to keep their wealth and their power. It isn’t the “nouveau riche” that have the power, they just enjoy the relatively low cost of living, the proximity to the coast, and the ability to build 10,000 sq.ft.+ homes on the outskirts of town. No, it is the families that have been in Greenville since it was founded that have the power. Those families control what does and doesn’t happen in Greenville, particularly downtown.

    Here are a few examples:
    The family that owns UBE put a lot of money into revitalizing downtown a few years ago – the lofts over what used to be Filibusters in the 90’s (I don’t know what the name is now), widening the sidewalks, updated storefronts – were their ideas. Heck, Jefferson’s (an old Greenville over-priced shop) even went down there in support of the revitalization. But, the natives of Greenville didn’t buy in. Customers that shopped at Jefferson’s for years on Arlington Blvd. stopped shopping as frequently because some of the women that lunch were “afraid” to drive downtown because it borders East 5th and god forbid they have to actually see people more needy than them in line for social services. I admire the UBE folks for trying a few years ago to jump start things but it takes buy-in from the locals that control the economy for such ideas to flourish.

    Also, the Brody’s, an old family in Greenville that used to have a department store called “Brody’s.” Well, the Brody’s (Hyman Brody, mainly) do so much to recruit businesses to Greenville. He brought in all the shops over by Old Navy, also the Gap, and Fresh Market, to name a few. Of course, these aren’t downtown. The reason why, I believe, is the fact that corporations like these are not going to occupy space that is not supported by the locals (i.e. Greenville’s elite). If they aren’t going to go there to shop, then these shops are going to go into large commercial spaces where people will shop.

    My point with these two examples is this: There is an effort to (1) boost local economy and (2) bring some uniqueness to Greenville by locals but, all of those efforts have to be supported by those who have the power to say yes or no to such development. Many of the Greenville families I speak of as holding the wealth, own the land downtown, the buildings, the land all over town for that matter. If they don’t want a socialist bookshop renting their storefront, it isn’t going to happen. They have power to decide what comes and goes both because they own the property and because the can choose and influence how money is spent in those places.

    I am ALL for a downtown revitalization in Greenville. I too remember the Park Theatre and Dapper Dans and Hearts Delight Ice Cream. But, I do not think it is going to happen until the mindset of those who hold the wealth in town changes. It is a reproduction of elitism in Greenville and a sad one at that. ECU is not to blame (though I do think utilizing space downtown for classes is a fabulous idea that ECU should look to partner on). Since it’s inception the university has gone from a teacher’s college to a more research oriented institution. No, they are not an R1 (for those of you in academia like me) but they have strong graduate programs and obviously produce good writers like Angus. ECU and the medical school have added to the diversity of the town as well. Until a few years ago, Greenville never had an Indian Restaurant, Mediterranean, sushi, anything. I remember when the Japanese steak house came to town and hibachi was actually considered Japanese and exotic. ECU is doing its job. The residents of Greenville are not. They are not supportive of local business that wants to move downtown because they don’t want to shop in that area of town and they own the property and can afford to keep it empty, frankly.

    The other thing to consider is this: It is Eastern NC. According to the National Institute for Literacy, 2003 National Assessment for Adult Literacy, in Pitt County, 31% of the population read at a Level 1 and 23% reads at a Level 2. This means that roughly 30,000 or more, can sign their name and fill out an application but can’t read The Daily Reflector or this article. You can check the facts here http://nces.ed.gov/naal/index.asp
    Social advocacy, social justice, eccentricity, etc. are not things that have long been valued by hard-working folks in this area. Farming and family have been appreciated and so when new places like the “Olive Garden” (as seen on TV) come to town, they become the epitome of fine dining for some folks. This isn’t to discredit any lifestyle, just to point out differences and stereotypes. Further, when you consider that ECU undergraduates are 73% white and 87% come from in-state, you aren’t necessarily setting the campus or the town up for change anytime soon- you can check those facts here http://www.collegeportraits.org/NC/ECU/characteristics

    I guess after this long banter that anyone still reading has indulged me in, the main point is that Greenville is controlled by a few wealthy families that don’t support change unless it benefits them. ECU is not to blame for the fact that Greenville lacks flavor, its long time local residents are.

  81. david carpenter

    What a great article. Well written. I recently made a trip to Asheville NC and was so impressed with the energy and how vibrant it’s downtown district was. we parked in one of the centrally located parking decks and spent the whole day on foot going to the many shops, bookstores, restaurants etc. this article very accurately points out why it is impossible for the university to not play an integral role in the improvement of a downtown that is within feet of the campus. Over and over again i talk to people who all say that a vibrant downtown with lots of variety of places to shop and eat is what they desire. this article offers possibilities to make this happen. Let’s not let this just be a good article. i think it is time to put some these great ideas to work. I am very hopeful that ECU will pay attention to the enormous response to this article.

  82. PirateDuke

    Great ideas, I’d love to see some growth incentive and more locally owned businesses pop up. I’ve gotten away from the chain restaurants for the most part and really enjoy the fresh food and service I get at locally owned eateries. There is accountability and personality you won’t find at nation wide chain anywhere. I’d like to see the whole country back out of the assembly line McDonaldization of society because it’s taking us nowhere at the speed of light. For starters – obesity epidemic anyone? (Ask Dr. Pories) Chili’s, Subway and Chic-fil-A are ‘cool’ to have on campus, but imagine the quality of food and health if the university tapped into the culinary program a bit more. Run it like a restaurant and let the students learn first hand, cooking, marketing, web-design, sustainability, logistics and of course utilize fresh foods grown locally – farmers market! Practice green methods of operating – put the GREEN in Greenville, etc. The opportunity is there, but it falls into the hands of the movers and shakers, and where their own convictions are. It doesn’t require boatloads of cash, just some vision backed by common sense. Make a list of 5 things you love about Asheville, Charleston, Chapel-Hill, or anytown USA and think about how it could be utilized here and better yet, improved upon. If not now, when? Go PIRATES! ARRRGGHH.

  83. Transferring Sophomore

    I could not agree anymore with this article, i want to scream it at the top of my lungs. I am a sophomore that is trying to transfer next year, because I am lacking my culture fix. Don’t get me wrong I’ve met some great people at ECU, but the closed mindedness of people here is ridiculous. I do not feel challenged whatsoever by my peers, and the lack of diversity is depressing. The comments made on here about this being an article about “hippies” or “socialists” are absolutely hilarious. Please, for the benefit of society, open your mind…your level of intellect is appalling, and laugh worthy.

  84. Delia

    Well. First of all, pirating music IS a crime – One that I never wanted to pay for. But since Wednesday of last week, I HAVE PAID ASCAP DUES and covers can now be played at my venue. Legally and without fear of being sued. That said, this live music venue is booked pretty much solid until April, so cover bands can’t get in yet…But the occasional cover can be played by scheduled bands, and covers can be played between sets. Operating a live music venue in a town that doesn’t seem to want one is really difficult. Many lament the ones that are gone, but not enough folks support the ones that are here now. So, Old Dirty, I’m not sure what else I can do to gain your business…I will not stoop to penny drafts, and I will not serve liquor…But I hope you (and anyone else looking for really amazing live music written and played by some exceptional talent) will visit soon.
    To all the naysayers, until you’ve tried doing what the small businesses and other stake holders here are trying to do, you really have no earthly idea what it takes, and sitting anonymously at your computers attacking the area and the people and the effort is cowardly and unhelpful.
    I hope this article and the conversation it has inspired will be a portal to a more vibrant downtown area. I hope the powers that be won’t ignore what people are saying. Thank you, Angus, for opening up this giant can of worms! = )

  85. a;ex

    yea but ecu does not want any of that all they want to do is bulldoze down town and turn it into a parking lot

  86. Nieves Villaseñor

    Thank you for writing this article. This entire article is pretty much sums up my thoughts of Greenville while I’ve been here. When people ask, I always seem to say that I love ECU but I hate Greenville, and it’s because of the one-faced-football-party culture that it seems to have. Truth is, we want more, and it can be more. Great article.

  87. Clif Watts

    Angus brings up a lot of good points, but the Greenville planning board shares as much blame as anyone else. The location of the conference center and allowing big box stores to settle into Greenville boulevard has hurt the uptown area as much as anything else. This killed the uptown area, by moving everything away from campus. Uptown needs more than just eateries, bars, clubs, and specialty shops. There is no grocery in the uptown area (aside from the little place off Jarvis), there is no conference establishment of any size, there is no hotel, no movie theatre, no area for recreation beyond Town Common, no place for children. Having these types of establishments would draw more people into the area, and increase the profile of the uptown area. It would also help reduce crime, because we would have more people on the street. The Uptown Greenville Group is a remarkable force in helping to re-establish the area, but we need more than what we have now. Greenville could be such a great university town if we could reduce the bar and club presence, and make it a place that the entire community can enjoy.

  88. jeff davis

    What a good well written thoughtful article! As a former student and restaurant manager at a downtown establishment, I can attest to the fact that downtown(Uptown) Greenville is a ghost town during the day. The only draw is late-night bars and drunken scantily clad co-eds. I now live in Wilmington and the downtown here is eclectic and interesting. Yes, there is the late night drunken element, same as in G-Vegas but the place is bustling during the day. The problem is ECU wants the downtown area to fail so they can buy all that property. They are not gonna lift a finger to help the downtown area. It is so sad. While I look at Greenville for the dump that it is, it is somehow strangely still “my” dump and I would like to see the downtown thrive.

    • Nick

      Nice article! ECU was the first college I attended, and after a year there, I was ready to transfer. My decision to do so was mostly influenced by many of the points you made in this piece. I found that for someone who didn’t drink alcohol, ECU could end up being quite a dull place once class was finished and my homework was done.

      I ended up leaving for Wilmington, and not once have I regretted that decision. No matter what people like to say about ECU being a “party school” I feel it was sorely lacking when it came to providing a truly impressive and eyeopening “college experience”.

  89. John

    The author’s comments were interesting. Although calling UNC-Asheville “rinky-dink” was a bit judgmental. I’d call ECU “rinky-dink” myself. So what’s more “rinky-dink” than “rinky-dink”? Ultra rinky-dink? Super mega rinky-dink? And the idea of a Socialist bookstore in Greenville just buggers the imagination. Did the author grow up in Chapel Hill, or what?

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  91. Kagi

    This is a great article — not just and insightful, but well-written, too. Hooray for Angus!

    I just want to add that it’s really important that everybody in town keep a close watch on City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission. How many times, in recent years, have those two bodies approved outrageous exceptions to the City’s master plans, allowing even more big-box development on the edge of town? They’ll keep doing it, as long as we let them. Let’s kick out the worst offenders (starting with the two longest-serving Council members).

    Also: I’m not a fan of hookah bars myself, but I’m really happy to see a new business opening on Dickinson. That street has tons of potential. ECU students: maybe you’d like to stick around after graduation and start a new business there?

  92. Kagi

    One more thing: ECU’s most recent Master Plan does include a lot of the things commenters are asking for: a downtown hotel and convention center, a performing arts center, and redevelopment of the Reade St. corridor linking downtown to the river. http://www.ecu.edu/masterplan_docs/MainCampus.pdf All this is great — but will the Legislature and the City Council ever let it get built? We’ll see.

  93. John

    I COMPLETELY agree with this article. I personally believe this article is honestly reflective of Eastern, North Carolina as a whole. The entire region has so much potential but every downtown district is in similar disrepair. The local governments make sometimes small and sometimes large efforts to make things move. In the end most people “locally” just don’t seem to care. They care about getting to the beach on the weekend or tailgating but not the falling apart downtown districts. Wake up Eastern NC and start caring about your community again! We need to get rid of this “not in my backyard” mentality that seems to plague this region. We are sitting on the cusp of have a great regional infrastructure here for business due to location and climate. However when many send recruiters down to look at our areas well that is when they turn up there noses. It doesn’t make sense for a town of nearly 90,000 people to have a downtown district that is falling apart. I’m so glad someone in a prominent position finally said something!

  94. Gville expat

    Angus, you should move to one of the places that has all of the things you want and stop trying to change Greenville. I grew up in Greenville and there are really nice people there and it’s a perfectly fine place to live, but it’s never going to be a true creative capital. There are bunches of cities that already have what you want, and it would be a waste of your youth not to go experience them now. Don’t wait for Greenville.

    The dynamics you’ve written about have all been explained — see “The Rise of the Creative Class” (a few years old, but it still holds up): http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html

    • AppleTim

      Gville expat,

      I just read the Creative Class article….thanks for sharing.

      I think the big question to be asked here is if Greenville has the capacity to become a future Creative Capital. Because at some point, many years ago, Austin was just a small TX town, and Raleigh was just the state capital with a few colleges. Then, they grew into what they are today. So could that happen in Greenville? And if so, what would it take? How did Austin do it? How did Raleigh do it?

  95. AppleTim

    Angus, this is an excellent article, and rings very true.

    To all who are interested and have not seen it yet, this video does a great job to further the conversation:


  96. Matt G

    What does it say that more than half of the business that were there when I wen to school (97-02) are gone! There is no passing it on to the next generation. You cant sit with a Granfather, father and Grandson and here them all say how they spent time in the same place.

    Greenville needs to be taken up a few notches and the school should be headlining this effort, but its true that even the school cant beat out the board if the board has their own personal interests in mind.

  97. Ashley

    Basically, Greenville is shit. It’s Rocky Mount on acid. It’s trashy. And if you’re looking for a beautiful, culture and history-rich environment, not to mention much more attractive people, just go to UNC-W … if you can get accepted.

  98. Mike

    Comment above – YESSSSS! Wilmington is the Hollywood of the Southeast. Who needs a football team when you live somewhere that beautiful? Greenville is to WIlmington as Detroit is to San Fransisco. It’s garbage vs beauty.

  99. I fled as soon as I was able

    Greenville is a pit.

  100. I am now not sure the place you’re getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend a while learning more or understanding more. Thank you for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  101. Matt

    ECU officials would rather tear downtown and make it a parking lot than any other suggestion.

  102. Thank you so much for writing this article! My hat goes off to you. As a downtown business owner, I appreciate your ideas and commend you for your awareness of how important the Uptown (downtown) district is to Greenville. We depend on the students venturing down to walk around and explore what’s available to them. The historical district has already taken huge strides to redevelop this part of our city and I can only hope that this revitalization will keeps its momentum. If you haven’t already, please pop in and check out The Closet! 403 S Washington St., in the parking lot behind Winslow’s and across from Wells Fargo/Greenville Utilities. Shop small, shop local!

  103. Eric Walls

    This article is dead on point. Greenville used to have a much more happening and vibrant downtown in the 60′s and 70′s and it saw a brief resurgence of sorts in the 90′s. I would love to see Greenville have a downtown more like Asheville or Chapel Hill. That would be amazing.

  104. Another Grown-Up

    I would have to say if you had done more research you would have found out the 10 year plan for Greenville and the University and would already have some of your questions answered. There is a plan for a conference center and possibly hotel downtown and the university plans to develop another section along 10th street and into the Downtown area.

    I would have to agree with some other people on here that the students are to blame for this. No grown up with any money wants to risk their lives to shop or eat downtown, especially after hours. The only places making money are the bars because they are geared toward the students. Also the population of our students is very different than any UNC schools. They are made up of peace makers and tree huggers while ECU students are thugs and partiers.

    Let’s get it right, grown ups with jobs that have respect for their environement equal profitable business areas (think Mayfaire in Wilmington). Students with pennies that have zero respect for anything or anyone equal Downtown Greenville.

  105. Sandy

    The main problem with downtown is safety. People in their mid 20′s and 30′s, especially people not from Greenville, don’t want to go hang out downtown where you might get robbed or shot. Also, the options downtown are lacking. You’ve got the bars where you have to deal with drunk college kids,Peasants, where the music is always so loud it is deafening, or the shops that close at 5. Greenville definitely needs to take a page out of Chapel Hill or Asheville’s play book.

  106. wanting to help

    I have a big club downtown. .how can I turn it into something that will benefit ECU and still make a living ? Any ideas. I want to help clean up downtown. Even if I open it up in the daytime

  107. Mike

    The idea of the Pirate Bucks being used downtown sounds like a good idea, however, most universities get paid millions of dollars by the food corporation on campus, in this case aramark, to be on campus. By the school forcing those who live on campus to purchase Pirate Bucks, it is a way for the food company to earn the money back that they gave to the school to be on campus. These contracts usually forbid any outside food being used during campus events, expect in certain circumstances, and usually forbid such things as Pirate Bucks being valid at places located off campus. I do not know about ECU’s contract with aramark, but it may be worth looking into.

  108. anonymous old fart

    Greenville is without a doubt the most “ageist” town in which I have ever lived. Does not surprise me that an article about how to improve downtown area is followed by people insulting each other about age. In Greenville, if you venture downtown and you’re over the age of 30 be prepared to be condescended to or outright insulted.

  109. Dee (Kansas City)

    I am a Greevillian, and agree with this story. greenville has become such a ghost town from what I remember. I remember cubbies, andies, courthouse cafe, the bicycle post, the old drug store with best hotdogs by the libray, summer time dollar movies, and lets not forget about the family bonding of Sunday in the Park………. all of those small mom and pop shops that kept families coming back and sometime offering in store credit to families in need. I kind of got carried away reminiscing, the exact same these colloege should be when asked how is college. Great Story and I have not been to town in years. Therefore; I know changes have been made, but should be made to prevent and benefit more memories.

  110. Bob

    Greenville is a dump; always has been. The only thing me and my friends got going to ECU was STDs. My friend Andy even got aids from a girl who went there.

    All I remember about ECU are the dingy apartments with fast-food wrappers all over the place, the tired women who banged every big dumb frat guy with drugs, and I’m pretty sure the “knockout game” was invented on 5th ave as I had a number of friends laid out by roving packs of delinquent youths (who I have heard upgraded to drive-by’s near campus???).

    A degree from ECU means next to nothing outside of North Carolina and even in North Carolina you tend to get a smirk and eye-roll when you mention ECU.

    The only good thing I can say is at least cigarettes are cheap in Greenville. I guess that’s something.

  111. Rose

    Well, this just makes me want to leave even more. I absolutely hate it here. ECU sucks for me and trust me I do want to leave but having to start all over at another university isnt appealing either. This place is pathetic but it did good to fool me that it was a good university when I went on tour.

  112. Ignorance is a bliss

    People never cease to amaze me. By people, I am referencing the above posters who are bashing/insulting the students of ECU.

    ECU is an excellent place to get a degree. Many people who graduate from ECU are highly successful. I graduated last year (2013) and had a job lined up in DC paying $70k plus benefits. I also don’t have loads of debt racked up due to the affordability of the education.

    College is what you make it. I chose to focus on all of the positive rather than the negatives. In my experience, those who were actively involved on campus and in the surrounding community LOVE ECU. There are pros and cons to literally every campus, town, organization, company, etc. In the end, it’s your own fault for not enjoying college. Choose to focus on whatever you want, just know that your thoughts and words reflect you overarching personality.

    Hate to break it to you, but people really don’t enjoy being around negative people and REALLY hate to hire them.

    Have a nice day and GO PIRATES!

  113. Jason

    NEWS Flash Greenville is not Asheville or Chapel Hill there isn’t money here like there is in those places. A Nice hotel downtown will be great and may even be booked up for the two weekends a year that parents come to visit ECU or the 5 home football games but you can’t run a nice hotel on 7 booked weekends a year. ECU is the only reason Greenville is as big as it is and believe me it has grown a lot over the past 10 years and no business don’t want to go downtown where there customers are likely to get robbed after 5 pm or the store broken into. The poverty and the crime in certain parts of Greenville isn’t ECU faults its ECU that is being a victim.
    Finally you believe so much in downtown Greenville so much you start a buisness there oh wait your a broke college student like most of the other ones that go there. Unless they start a ramen noodle outlet downtown I don’t see ECU being able to make alot of change to it.

  114. ECU might “disappear” you for screwing with their agenda. Great article though.

  115. almoghty

    what does he first talk about

  116. Jared

    Just give me Bojangles and a Budlight, that should be the motto of Greenville. The place is a black hole, why you would ever want to stay there after graduating is beyond me. I wish this place would change but it never will. It will never be downtown Asheville, Wilmington, or Chapel Hill cause the people that live in Greenville don’t care. They don’t value art, free thinking, progression. They are stuck in their ways and will be for the next 100 years.

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