As new luxury high rise breaks ground, many long for affordable housing

Jennifer Wilford knows all about the issues facing low-income families in Rock Hill. She is the director of housing and neighborhood services for the city.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — On Tuesday, Rock Hill leaders broke ground on a luxury high rise apartment complex, the first of its kind in the city.

Following that event, several people in the community spoke out to Channel 9, concerned about the lack of good, safe and affordable housing.

“That looks good for downtown, but there are people struggling,” said Jazmine Hunt. She grew up in Rock Hill, but said it’s hard to find something that’s nice and affordable here.

“I just want a cheap house, but I want it to look nice. Nice enough to have kids running around outside. Safe enough,” she said.

Antonio Mitchell moved out of an apartment in town because he could no longer afford it.

“I was paying $1,400 for a two bedroom. Not a three. Not a four, a two. I was living check to check for that house,” he said.

Mitchell now pays roughly $200 a month, and lives in an income-based complex run by the housing authority. Many of the complexes considered affordable are HUD-subsidized and have long waiting lists to get in.

When the upscale apartments called the Exchange at Rock Hill broke ground on Tuesday, some saw the $45 million project as a game changer for Rock Hill. Others saw it as the same game. $1,500 a month rent is an amount that many just can’t swing.

Jennifer Wilford knows all about the issues facing low-income families in Rock Hill. She is the director of housing and neighborhood services for the city.

“Affordable housing in Rock Hill, and everywhere. It’s a huge challenge,” Wilford said.

She said change has been slow to arrive, but a new policy put in place this summer requires builders who get certain financial incentives to set aside some units for lower-income renters.

“All of the developers that I’ve spoken with are open to those types of partnerships, but it’s finding those layers of the different programs, different policies, and different incentives to make these things work together,” she said.

One example is the former fairgrounds at Cherry Road and Constitution Boulevard, where a 100-plus unit mixed-use complex will go. It will all be affordable housing.

According to HUD, “affordable” basically means monthly rent is between $800 and $1,100. However, some don’t consider that affordable enough.

Some less expensive options are substandard or viewed as unsafe.

The high end “Exchange at Rock Hill” will have some affordable units when it opens next fall. However, the city and the developer are still negotiating how many there will be.

Housing complex demolition in north Charlotte has residents worried about moving

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2020 Philanthropy

2020 Philanthropy. The charity benefit model of the past is, frankly, history. Local organizations face a new challenge: Taking their annual soirees to …

Mele Sosa

Mele Sosa

“We were all in different parts of the U.S., but we felt so close. I dressed up, even though I was at home, because for me it was a big celebration!”—Mele Sosa, wine educator and ambassador for Bodega Garzon

A majority of “attendees” of this year’s University of Minnesota WineFest didn’t wear tuxedos or ball gowns. And philanthropists connected to the 2020 Children’s Cancer Research Fund’s Dream Gala didn’t rub elbows with the CEO of This Company or the president of That Group. Instead, participants in two of the Twin Cities’ most successful annual fundraisers cozied up at home with their laptops—just like many of us have for happy hours, birthday parties, and seemingly everything else the last six months.

“We tried to throw the word ‘Zoom’ out of everything we did and said, This is a dedicated link to watch a livestream, to let people know that everything we’re doing is organically driven,” says Nick Engbloom, the University of Minnesota Foundation’s director of community partnerships. “We didn’t want to mimic other events, and we didn’t want it to be your typical Monday-to-Friday Zoom meeting.”

Katie Harms and Dana Harms

Katie Harms; Dana Harms, orthopedic surgeon at Allina

Katie Harms and Dana Harms

“I was surprised I got just as excited about silent auction bidding from a video platform as I would in person!” —Katie Harms, living spaces specialist at Space Options ID

But that’s not easy to accomplish—even when livestream events include emotional messages from young patients and messages from Twin Cities notables. And it comes at a price. WineFest, which benefits the U’s Masonic Children’s Hospital, was on track to raise $2 million at its May in-person gala. After initially postponing until 2021, the event team decided it was too important to the funding of the hospital—and the community—to miss out this year. The team started planning the June 13 virtual event less than two months before it happened, with a new goal of $500,000 (which they met).

Team leaders for another pillar community event, the CCRF Dream Gala, faced the same challenge: cancel and lose key funding for the year, or try something totally new and go digital. The first-ever Dream Stream took place in late April and raised more than $330,000 for cancer research—almost $1 million less than last year’s in-person event.

Mike Moore and Scott Hierlinger

Mike Moore; Scott Hierlinger, vice president at Nelson

Mike Moore and Scott Hierlinger

“This year wasn’t short on fun and helping the U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital! ” —Mike Moore, director of sales at Star Tribune

“It’s hard to say we exceeded our goal or didn’t meet our goal, because we didn’t even know how to set a goal,” says CCRF’s senior events coordinator, Sarah Ober. Raising money virtually—without live auctions, person-to-person connections, and the halo effect that comes from the shared-giving vibe of the room—is challenging. On the flip side, hosting virtually comes at a much smaller investment—no expenses for caterers, venues, florists, and other services that add up quickly. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean the organizations are coming out on top.

Event teams are quick to acknowledge what they learned and can change and add to future virtual and in-person events. “I’m trying not to see these new virtual events as being temporary fixes for 2020,” Ober says.

Organizations also realize that with free “admission” to virtual galas and the ability to log on from anywhere, more people have access to events—people who previously couldn’t afford a three-figure ticket, or those who may have attended the event in the past but now live elsewhere. Families were able to introduce their kids or parents to philanthropic organizations they’re passionate about. Many in-person galas and fundraisers will still have ticket prices in the future, but organizations are considering free digital elements to engage broader audiences.

“We learned that even in the time that we’re living in, with this pandemic, people still want to make a difference and give back,” Engbloom says. “And we saw our dedicated donors are going to stay dedicated.”

Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup aims to process thoughts; TikTok & Walmart

Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup aims to process thoughts; TikTok & Walmart. August 31, 2020. GZERO Media. Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of …

Ian Bremmer’s Quick Take:

We’ve got coronavirus still going on, you wouldn’t know that from watching the American media right now. A lot more focus on social violence, on Kenosha, on Portland, but certainly coronavirus.

And the pandemic remains by far the most important issue, both for the United States and globally, not only because there are over a 180,000 dead in the US, but also the extraordinary economic impact and the fact that it is going to stay with us and have such a big impact on lives of the average Americans, on lives of the average citizens globally as we fight to reopen economies, get people back to work, get kids back to school, get a vaccine, or vaccines, that we can trust and we can take. And it’s important to understand that even though the election is going to distract us maximally and hopefully engage us maximally over the coming two months and more, because I don’t think it’s over on November 3rd, that that’s still we are dealing with the biggest crisis of our lifetimes and it’s going to be with us for a lot longer than this election.

Having said that, getting away from the United States a little bit, there’s a lot of news happening. And I thought I talk about a couple of those things. One is that the longest standing prime minister in Japanese history, Shinzo Abe, is stepping down, the second time he has stepped down for health concerns. This time, I would say it is for good. The good news is that Japan is very stable. The Liberal Democratic Party is very entrenched. There’s not a lot of inequality in Japan. There is not a lot of individual upset or dissent with the idea that elections are rigged, or institutions are illegitimate.

A first look inside Virgin Galactic’s glamorous new spaceplane

While SpaceX has made progress with reusable rockets and its successful flight of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in May, Virgin …

Designed in collaboration with London-based design agency Seymourpowell, the cabin is an attempt to set the standard for this particular form of high-end travel. Jeremy White, director of transport at Seymourpowell, says it’s like creating a whole new space aesthetic. “We had the rare opportunity to have the freedom to do that,” he says. And though the agency has experience designing interiors of private jets and details on cars for Ford, White says it was important to start this assignment on a clean slate. “We sort of purposely didn’t look to aviation or automotive for inspiration.”

[Image: Virgin Galactic]

Virgin Galactic’s release of this cabin design is as much sneak peek as it is a thumb of the nose at the two other big names in the commercial space business: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Tesla founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX. While SpaceX has made progress with reusable rockets and its successful flight of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in May, Virgin Galactic is hoping to beat Blue Origin to the space tourism market. Virgin Galactic flights were once expected to take off at some point in 2020, but that timeline has since been delayed. The company is accepting flight registrations, at a refundable cost of $1,000, and is also releasing an augmented reality app people can download to explore the cabin design—and maybe convince themselves to sign up for a ride.

The cabin is not wholly unfamiliar, despite the designers’ blank slate. Something like a small-sized jet, the tubular interior space has the dimensions familiar to any commercial air traveler. But the interior has been completely rethought to accommodate the unique conditions of flying at great speeds into zero gravity.

[Image: Virgin Galactic]

The interior is a mood-lit minimal space lined with eight specially designed seats that recline back to look up at a ceiling bubbled with 12 windows that, upon exiting the atmosphere, will offer a view back to Earth. Passengers will be released from their reclining chairs and left free to float around the cabin, grabbing onto soft handholds around the windows while embedded cameras record photo and video keepsakes of the experience. The seats will fall as flat as possible to help transform the cabin from passenger seating to zero-gravity playground. A large mirror inside was added to give passengers the experience of seeing themselves floating in space.

Customer feedback and ideas were used to guide the physical space and the flight experience, says Stephen Attenborough, commercial director at Virgin Galactic. Roughly 600 people have already reserved flights from the company. Their expectations for the flight and motivations for signing up—from childhood aspirations of working at NASA to space dreams straight out of science fiction—have been used to inform the design. “We have effectively built this spaceship from the inside out,” Attenborough says.

The customers will also be guiding the physical infrastructure of the cabin. Seats made from aluminum and carbon fiber will be adjusted specifically to fit each passenger’s body measurements, ensuring safe harnessing against the flight’s high gravitational forces, expected to peak at roughly four times as strong as what’s experienced on Earth. “Unlike other transportation environments where we don’t know the customers or who’s going to come through the door, we know the customers well,” White says.

When ‘Tenet’ Opens on September 3, Theaters Will Confront Their Future

AMC Entertainment and Regal Theaters, the country’s two largest circuits, already announced that they expected to open by late August, if allowed.

Warner Bros. kept its promise and quickly made good on announcing “Tenet” release plans: If you live in the U.S., expect to be able to buy a ticket to Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on Labor Day weekend. At worst, it will be available within a few hours’ drive. And, much of the world will have the chance to see it before you do.

Although the new date brings answers, it also inspires a lot of questions.

How many theaters?

Select cities will open Thursday, September 3 for a full day, not just evening previews. In film distribution parlance, “select” is more than “limited” (which suggests a handful of cities), but less than nationwide. Per a Warner Bros. source, drive-ins will be offered the title on a case-by-case basis.

That said: We are in unusual times. “Select” is an uncommon delimiter, one that’s more often used for VOD releases. More loosely translated, it means “We’ll take what we can get.” And that applies here: “Tenet” will take as many theaters as COVID-19 safety measures will allow. At this writing, the number of theaters that are actually available for “Tenet” could be around 3,000 — tantamount to a wide release.



Currently, brick-and-mortar complexes are open in more than 40 states. However, they don’t include top metropolitan areas like New York; all indoor theaters in California and Arizona are closed. Most of Chicago is closed (although there are some theaters in suburban areas); many are open in Georgia and Texas.

Of course, September 3 is still five weeks away, and no one knows exactly what we’ll face by then. COVID-19 has fiercely resisted any attempts at prediction; one weekend into Major League Baseball and the season is already threatened by the diagnosis of two ballplayers.



Warner Bros.

“Tenet” means pressure to open

AMC Entertainment and Regal Theaters, the country’s two largest circuits, already announced that they expected to open by late August, if allowed. It’s important to clarify that the chains remained closed largely for lack of product — but we can assume that individual companies and NATO, the exhibition trade association, will apply a full-court press in states and cities that currently forbid theater operation. Also, theaters will expand their efforts to get public backing; already NATO is promoting a congressional campaign called #SaveYourCinema. (It creates a form letter that urges Congress to pass “the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), which will give movie theaters access to partially forgivable seven-year loans covering six months of expenses.”)

Theaters in 70 Countries Will Open August 26

In addition to the U.S., the current exceptions are China, Brazil, and Mexico. Currently scheduled are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Spain, and the U.K.

Here is a complete list of the initial schedule with firm dates:

Wednesday, August 26:
Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Thursday, August 27:
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Middle East, New Zealand, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates
Friday, August 28:
East Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Vietnam
Thursday, September 3: United States, Kuwait and Qatar
September 10:
Azerbaijan, CIS Others, Kazakhstan, Russia
September 17: Cyprus
September 18: Japan
Dates TBD: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela

This very staggered schedule is not without precedent, but it’s unusual for a top title. Japan often lags, and China is usually a last-minute date.


Skip Bolden

Other films should follow

Already, “Unhinged” (Solstice Studios) had reset the release of its Russell Crowe film to August 21. Expect other distributors to to also date their secondary titles accordingly. And don’t be surprised if Disney gives “Mulan” a new date in September. If Warners’ “Wonder Woman 1984” can hold to its October 2 release, it could be a sign of box-office normalcy.

The Unknowns

Christopher Nolan always insisted on a full theatrical play for “Tenet,” and was happy to let it take the risk of being first. Presumably, that will now happen September 3 — and if it does, there’s a number of things we’ll learn beyond what his movie is about.

We will get a sense how much the virus damaged audience desires to watch movies in theaters.

Lower grosses would increase second guessing and concerns over exhibitors’ long-term viability.

If U.S. grosses are weak and international looks strong, that could encourage more domestic home-platform releases while continuing to release in theaters overseas.

Opening September 3 ticks the theatrical box. At that point, the marketing is spent; if the film is forced to lose theaters, or doesn’t perform, Warners can now take advantage of streaming whether it’s HBO Max, VOD, or both.

And finally: Is any of this truly viable? Does opening risk further damaging theaters if they’re viewed as sparking outbreaks?

Of course, there’s no right answer; the only alternative is holding back until (or if) a vaccine is available. By then, theaters could be in terminal — so for now, even that uncertain future is better than the alternative.

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