At last night’s meeting the Greensboro City Council unanimously approved a loan program to help developers renovate vacant big-box retail buildings:

The program will allow developers to seek market-rate loans from the city that they could not, due to current economic conditions, get from a bank, city officials said. It will target buildings that so-called big box retailers have left vacant, sometimes causing blight in neighborhoods.

“This is great opportunity to help stimulate economic development in those shopping centers and create some jobs for our citizens,” Councilman Jim Kee said.

Some might say the reason why we have so many vacant big-box sites is due to the unregulated free market; yet here’s the city handing out very favorable terms. Not even favorable enough for Mayor Robbie Perkins, who, according to the N&R, said he “he thinks the requirement that the developer must turn over tax return information to the city is too restrictive.”

Interesting that Greensboro developer Marty Kotis and the Sunset Hills neighborhood also come up. Assistant City Manager Andy Scott identified Kotis as a developer interested in the new loan program as a means of redeveloping the old Winn-Dixie store on the east side of town.

Turns out Kotis is seeking to redevelop property in Sunset Hills, including the original Ham’s site. It’s a desirable location –in the middle of the city, walkable for nearby neighbors. Yet it sits abandoned, right next to the former Southern Lights. What does that say? It says there’s a reason why these buildings sit vacant –the economy still stinks.