Size small: Tiny development proposed for area off Alley 26 in Durham | News
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Size small: Tiny development proposed for area off Alley 26 in Durham

Posted by on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Pity the mail carrier that tries to find 120 W. Parrish St. The former furniture warehouse—or what's left of it—is wedged behind the former 118 Got Soul restaurant, the Mechanics & Farmers bank building and the Jack Tar motel off Alley 26.

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LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg


Now that vacant space could be redeveloped into a two-story office and courtyard. The Durham Historic Preservation Commission will consider a certificate of appropriateness for the project on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8:30 a.m. in the second-floor committee room at Durham City Hall. 120 W. Morris St.pdf This is an application to the Durham Historic Preservation Commission about redeveloping a small area off Alley 26.

As the INDY reported in July, Arthur Rogers of Eno Ventures plans to put a two-story building behind the existing brick walls.  Since there is no street frontage, the building couldn't be a retail store (or a profitable one), so Rogers envisions space for start-ups and other small businesses.

The National Register Nomination for Downtown Durham lists the "unusual five-sided, two-story building" as a warehouse constructed in 1915: " [It was] severely damaged by fire in 2009, leaving it basically a shell of brick walls. ... The building's second story reached over the alley way to the back of 119-123 Orange Street; those walls also remain"

Five sides? Is this Durham's pentagon?

HPC and planning documents show that the proposed renovations and design comply with historic standards. The only exception are the two spanning walls, those burned-out fixtures above the alley. They used to be the walls to a room, which created a tunnel in Alley 26 below. The HPC has determined those walls need to be retained and repaired, although a tunnel will not be reconstructed. 

These spanning walls were part of a second-story room that formed a tunnel above Alley 26. - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • These spanning walls were part of a second-story room that formed a tunnel above Alley 26.


Rogers also wants to restore the windows, which have been bricked over. A tree, which is growing between the Jack Tar and 120 W. Parrish and towers over the vacant lot, will be cut down.

LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg


One of the great mysteries of the alley is the metal monkey face, which affixed to the motel wall behind the tree. Who made it? How did it get there?

LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg


On a separate matter, the developers behind the Greystone project, originally slated to come before the HPC at this meeting, have requested a continuance until the October meeting. Last month, the HPC and the planning commission criticized the proposal for 140 apartments at the corner of Duke Street and Morehead Avenue in the historic Morehead Hill neighborhood because it did not meet at least eight standards for approval.

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