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New event space under construction at Greensboro Coliseum complex

GREENSBORO — When singer-songwriter Elvis Costello brings his concert tour to the city on Nov. 2, he will perform at the White Oak Event Space in the Greensboro Coliseum complex.

Not the White Oak Amphitheatre, the outdoor venue at the complex’s southern end.

What the coliseum now calls the White Oak Event Space will be an adjacent 20,000-square-foot multipurpose indoor venue for live music and other events.

The coliseum complex and Live Nation entertainment company have partnered on the project, Live Nation said in a news release.

A $4 million renovation is underway to transform part of the former Canada Dry plant at 2411 W. Gate City Blvd.

No taxpayer money will go to the renovation, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said.

The site is part of coliseum property, with the Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau and the offices for Greensboro Swarm basketball team housed nearby.

“Our staff identified an opportunity in the Piedmont Triad marketplace for a multipurpose venue with a capacity of 2,300,” Matt Brown, coliseum complex managing director, said in the news release.

“The renovation of the former Canada Dry warehouse was a natural setting to create a dynamic space that would have the flexibility to host a wide variety of events and complement White Oak Amphitheatre and our other facilities,” Brown said.

Coliseum staff declined to discuss the project further on Wednesday.

In its news release, Live Nation calls the venue Piedmont Hall. The venue is scheduled to open Sept. 6 with country artist Aaron Lewis in concert.

A year ago, the City Council approved a construction contract for nearly $3.8 million with R.P. Murray, a Kernersville company now known as RPM Partners. Ticketmaster and Spectra Food Services, the coliseum’s catering company, were to cover the cost.

Vaughan called the new venue “very exciting.”

“It allows us to bring in acts that are too small for the coliseum,” she said. “It is a niche that Greensboro currently doesn’t have. ... It allows us to broaden the acts that we’re looking at.”

It also can be rented out for other events, Vaughan said.

Ben Weeden, chief operating officer of Live Nation’s Clubs & Theaters group, called Greensboro “a logical move for us.”

“It is a vibrant music market with a very large population base with demand for a 2,300-capacity-sized venue,” Weeden said in the Live Nation news release. “It will be an amazing experience for both fans and artists.”

Live Nation’s Clubs & Theaters division owns, operates and books landmark clubs and theaters throughout the world, including such legendary U.S. venues as The Wiltern in Los Angeles and The Tabernacle in Atlanta, as well as the House of Blues and Fillmore venues.

It promotes over 25,000 shows in 1,700 venues worldwide with over 20 million in annual attendance.

“Creating great fan experiences with great musical and comedy performers in a place as special as this wonderful building is something we work very hard at,” Weeden said.

The White Oak Event Space will join a complex that includes the coliseum’s 22,000-seat arena, 5,000-capacity Special Events Center, the 7,000-capacity amphitheater, 300-seat Odeon Theatre, The Terrace banquet room, the Greensboro Aquatic Center and The Fieldhouse, where the Greensboro Swarm plays.

The coliseum also will manage the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, a 3,000-seat venue scheduled to open downtown in March.

The Tanger Center will host touring Broadway productions and concerts, Guilford College’s Bryan Series speakers, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra performances, a Greensboro Opera production, comedy shows and family entertainment.

The Tanger Center will cost $90 million — $85 million for the project itself and $5 million in bond-related financing costs — shared by the city and private donors, and no taxpayer dollars, Brown said.

Photos: White Oak Event Space in Greensboro under construction

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Mustard Seed headlines community celebration

GREENSBORO — The bounce house and food have been ordered, and a variety of community partners plan tables for everything, from gardening tips to housing, as Cottage Grove neighbors come together on Friday to celebrate Community Appreciation Day and the Dr. Charles R. Drew Blood Drive.

The backdrop is Mustard Seed Community Health, which in the past four years has become an integral part of this east Greensboro community. Cottage Grove has one of the highest asthma rates in the city, largely due to housing that has fallen in disrepair leading to mold and mildew.

It’s where Dr. Beth Mulberry is using her medical expertise.

The plan for the English Street clinic, which drew 1,400 patients when it opened in 2015, has always been to provide quality health care in a community where the last doctor’s office closed about three decades ago.

The approach is holistic. That’s why the staff spends so much time building relationships with other community groups and residents who may need services.

It’s not unusual for those residents to skip doctor’s appointments because they don’t have transportation. Or that they may poorly manage chronic diseases like diabetes because they don’t have insurance coverage.

“It became clearer to me that health isn’t just about health care,” Mulberry said.

Mulberry and her staff operate out of the former parish house for New Hope Missionary Baptist Church so that they can be close to those they serve.

“The thing is, if you are trying to preach and this person is hungry, you’ve got to feed them before they can hear you,” said Pat Macfoy, the executive director of New Hope Community Development Group, an arm of the church that takes a spiritual approach to health in helping Cottage Grove residents.

The Mustard Seed clinic is a big part of uplifting the community, as is the Cottage Grove Initiative revitalization effort, which focuses on such issues as substandard housing.

The Mustard Seed clinic’s genesis, in some ways, is tied to the closing of the nonprofit HealthServe community clinic in 2013. HealthServe provided a safety net for most of the area’s uninsured before losing a significant amount of its $4.3 million budget, which came from Guilford County taxpayers, Cone Health and private donations. It had roughly 8,500 patients who logged an average of 25,000 to 30,000 visits a year.

While on staff at HealthServe, Mulberry worried about some of the people coming through the doors. If she sent someone home with a prescription, she wasn’t sure they’d have money to pay for it.

HealthServe’s closing came about the same time the state legislature decided not to expand Medicaid, which left tens of thousands of people with no insurance coverage and no options for basic medical care.

Mulberry knew she wanted to find a way to help those people.

While attending a conference, she happened upon a seminar called the Empowering Community Healthcare Outreach program, which provides a blueprint for churches and nonprofit groups to develop charitable health care clinics.

“I came back saying, ‘This is doable,’ ” Mulberry recalled.

And then some things just fell into place.

That included Mulberry having a long conversation at a health fair with Beth McKee-Huger, who was then executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition.

About the same time, Macfoy had run into City Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, who represents the district, at a convenience store. While leaning over bags of chips with sodas in their hands, Hightower listened and said, “I need to put you in touch with Dr. Beth.”

Mulberry said that patients at the Mustard Seed clinic — which gets its name from biblical Scriptures about doing the impossible — aren’t easily classified.

Many have jobs but no insurance. Others can’t squeeze the money for medical care out of the family budget.

Seeing a patient costs the clinic about $250. Most patients are uninsured and pay about $20 a visit.

The clinic accepts insurance, including private plans and Medicaid. Those without insurance are screened for the Guilford Community Care Network’s “Orange Card” program, which sets a sliding-scale fee for medical services, lab work and medications.

The clinic provides routine medical care, but also screening and treatment of some mental illnesses.

The efforts of the Mustard Seed clinic should keep people who are uninsured from going to emergency rooms for routine problems. Studies show that when those people can’t pay the bill, the public eventually pays for it through higher health care or insurance premium costs.

The clinic is constantly writing grants, but is seeking donations from businesses, churches and individuals.

“We are always in fundraising mode,” Mulberry said.

Woody Marshall