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Good Idea: Vacant Storefronts to Get Decked Out for Charity

Good Idea: Vacant Storefronts to Get Decked Out for Charity

Donald W. Patterson / YellowBrix

December 01, 2009

Downtown Greensboro Inc. and the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro have come up with a way to brighten the holidays, spruce up some unused storefronts and assist local nonprofits.

The groups have arranged for a dozen organizations — such as the Alzheimer’s Association and Win Win Resolutions — to get their messages out by decorating the windows of vacant buildings along Elm Street.

The displays should be finished by early next week and will remain up through the new year.

The nonprofits will join more than 20 center city businesses that plan to decorate their windows for the holidays.

On Tuesday afternoon, volunteers from the Alzheimer’s Association put the final touches on their display at 318 S. Elm St.

It promotes the association’s downtown walk on May 15, 2010.

“We are very appreciative of DGI and the United Arts Council and all of the landlords that are allowing nonprofits to decorate the storefronts,” said Kathryn Mittelstadt, an association volunteer. “This is a labor of love for us.”

Across the entrance way at 318 S. Elm, officials with the Greensboro Ballet decorated the building’s other window Monday and Tuesday. Their display promotes “The Nutcracker,” the holiday classic that the dance company performs every year.

“It’s kind of like free advertising and another way to get our name out there,” said Becky Turner, director of children’s dance. “It was kind of a no-brainer.”

Organizers, who selected participants on a first-come, first-served basis, had to turn away some nonprofits because they didn’t have enough storefronts.

They believe the displays will benefit property owners as well.

“Ninety percent of the properties that we are utilizing for this window showcase program are great opportunities for development or redevelopment,” said Jeff Yetter, president of Iron Hill Investments, a commercial real estate brokerage firm downtown. “Hopefully, this will further our efforts to accomplish that.”

Even though most of the buildings haven’t been decorated, nonprofit leaders already hope the opportunity becomes an annual affair. Organizers share that desire.

“It’s a great way to build community,” said Altina Layman, the arts council’s director of marketing and community affairs. “It’s a great way for the spirit of Greensboro to come out. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

© YellowBrix 2009