A hydroponic greenhouse funded by the City of Winston-Salem is now on track to open in October, after city staffers took over management from the nonprofit first tasked with the job.
The project, which was launched in 2016 and slated to open in 2018, was spearheaded by Goler Community Development Corporation – a firm that was selected without a bid process. In total, the city approved $1.4 million in funding for it, and continued to disperse the money to Goler as deadlines flew by.
A July 2021 WFDD review of invoices raised questions about how the funding was spent. This past winter, city staffers began to take the lead on the project, after Goler produced a first crop of lettuce. Assistant City Manager Johnnie Taylor says they made the shift for a simple reason.
“We needed to bring this particular project to a close," he says.
Taylor says the effort has been successful since they took the reins. Several crops are now growing in the greenhouse and being donated to charity.
The city is now exploring transitioning operational and administrative responsibilities to a new contractor. They opened a request for proposals process earlier this year but ended up rejecting both submissions they received. Taylor says they couldn’t find the right match, but left the door open to launching another round in the future.
The greenhouse is now set to officially open on October 15.