Light rail development has to be coordinated with wise planning. It took decades for Atlanta's Metro to be integrated with transit based development because the lines were build on existing rail ROWs which went through brownfield industrial sites. Those developments had to wait for land values to increase to where pollution remediation made economic sense.
The proposed light rail ROW for Raleigh and Cary has much the same problem, plus it won't even go to the Airport. The Durham-CH line is more practical, since it ties medical, college, and downtown Durham together, guaranteeing a strong ridership base.
First of all, the Triangle area needs a coordinated transit authority that will take charge of ALL transit in Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties. Triangle Transit is a barebones regional system and the city/county systems aren't much better. You have four transit bureaucracies when there should be one single authority. This is a piece of cake, folks. Consolidate and expand. Reduce bureaucratic overhead and increase frequency of service.
Steel truss buildings built during the era that the Liberty Warehouse was constructed are structurally flawed and prone to collapse. There is no reason to preserve faulty commercial structures. We are talking about a simple metal box with a simple brick facade.
I understand there is a kind of nostalgia for the Tobacco trade, as long as you ignore the hundreds of millions who died because of it. I imagine there is a potential Buchenwald tourist buzz that goes with that, kinda the way Southern Plantations celebrate the concentration camps of the slavery era.
The warehouse became a dilapidated eyesore because it's function no longer matched the changing economy of Durham. The RDU area is on the cusp of a new boom era. Durham has made great public investments and now will enjoy new private investments.
Not every old commercial property is fit for redevelopment. Liberty was an empty tin shell with a decent brick facade. Unlike American Tobacco, there was little function to be had in its present form. Frankly, I think keeping the brick facade IS what makes the new condo design look out of place.
Check the bumpers for a magnetic key box. A little fresh paint and someone can start a new small business.
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Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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