I am sentimental about historic buildings, but I do also understand that sometimes the cost of renovating or rehabilitating a building is too high... or at the very least, unattractive to an investor.
That said, I am deeply saddened for the city of Durham and in particular the community that currently exists in the DIY district. King's, Fullsteam, Motorco, Geer Street, Cocoa Cinnamon... my fear is that those beautiful and thriving small businesses will suffer because of the new development, particularly if chains do come in (in spite of what developers are currently claiming, that remains a possibility). Those small business owners have worked ridiculously hard to be a part of that neighborhood and have put their own hands to the work of strengthening the community. Take a look at Leon and Areli, owners of Cocoa Cinnamon - they have created living wage jobs - not minimum wage jobs. They offer benefits to their employees. Isn't this a business model that we should support? I understand capitalism and all, but it just strikes me as plain unfair... now that the DIY is growing and appears to be a "trendy" location for "hipsters", someone who has a bunch of money can come in and do whatever they want, standing on the shoulders of what others have sacrificed to build. I think that could do significant damage to the area. And what's more, my guess is that there will be even greater disparity between economic classes in the neighborhood.
I love Durham's "grittiness". I love the movement that is coming within and throughout the existing neighborhoods - people improving their community bit by bit, not because they want to make money, but because they have a personal interest in how the city grows and is sustained. And yes, there are still improvements to be made... but I can't help but still take offense when someone talks about not being able to walk around Durham without a weapon of some sort. I have often walked from east of Mangum and Roxboro to Central Park, to downtown Durham... during the day and at night. I have never been bothered or harassed or felt myself to be in any danger.
Perhaps I am just a useless, naive hipster, or maybe even foolish, but I think the current plans for the demolition of Liberty Warehouse and the new development are disheartening, to say the least.
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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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