Preservation Voters 2017


Welcome to Preservation Durham’s Candidate Questionnaire for the 2017 Mayoral and City Council elections. This questionnaire addresses local preservation issues and challenges in order to gauge candidate’s knowledge of and opinions on preservation issues, as well as to provide information for voters. At a time of immense change and growth in Durham, preservation is an often forgotten issue, but is of utmost importance as we choose elected leaders and the city that Durham will become. Candidates’ answers are published verbatim and Preservation Durham does not endorse candidates for office.

Mayoral Candidates
Farad Ali
Tracy Drinker
Pierce Freelon
Kershemia Ramirez
Steve Schewel
Sylvester Williams
No Response: Michael Johnson

Ward 1 Candidates
Cora Cole-McFadden
DeDreana Freeman
No Response: Brian Callaway, John Tarantino

Ward 2 Candidates
LeVon Barnes
DeAnna Hall
Robert Fluet
Mark-Anthony Middleton
Dolly Reaves
No Response: John Rooks Jr.

Ward 3 Candidates
Sheila Ann Huggins
Don Moffitt
No Response: Vernetta Alston, Lenny Kovalick

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MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Farad Ali

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

There are so many, but there are two that serve to preserve Durham’s rich history and keeps the legacy of the past living in the future that I would consider my personal favorites:

The North Carolina Mutual Building, which is the landmark for the Black Wall Street, on Parrish Street is my personal favorite. The history of Durham’s Black Wall Street, now designated with six historic markers, honors the pioneers and legacy of Black enterprise at a time where Jim Crow laws enforced segregation and limited the opportunities of African Americans.  Black Wall Street entrepreneurs John Merrick and Charles Spaulding propelled an era of significant black-owned enterprises anchored by the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Mechanics and Farmers Bank as well as business, professional practices and services.  The Hayti District, also flourished as a major residential and business center for black life and the Heritage Center downtown have always been close to my heart –The story of Durham is deeply tied to the African American community, black enterprise and Parrish Street and Hayti are critical part of our city’s black cultural heritage. I see with revitalization efforts a time once again where residents can once again prosper in the neighborhoods where they live and work and own business.   Decades ago of black enterprise, this area drew interest from civil rights leaders and prominent African Americans including Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, each of whom made appearances in Durham. The organization I lead, the NC Institute of Minority Economic Development, owns and operates from this building today…carrying on the legacy of black entrepreneurship.

My other favorite historic site is the Pauli Murray homestead, which was recently restored and recognized as a National historic Landmark. This site preserves and recognizes the childhood home of civil rights activist, lawyer and Episcopal priest Pauli Murray.  A woman before her time who advocated for both women’s and civil rights which lead to the formation of the National Organizations (NOW).  With the preservation of the her home, her work continues and is preserved.  I am moved by her legacy and her reputation and vision of an inclusive America, which embodies my campaign theme “One Durham.”  The struggle for Civil Rights, Immigrant Rights, Women’s Rights, the recognition of the contributions of the Jewish community and LGBTQ Youth activism are all a part of Durham’s history

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Absolutely. There is no question that the revitalization of Durham’s downtown including American Tobacco, West Village, the Durham Hotel, or Brightleaf would not have happened without the adaptive reuse of historical buildings. Preserving our history – and doing it in a way that makes financial sense – must be a central part of downtown development.

The City as well as private developers Duke, Chamber and civic have been partners in preservation and adaptive use. Of course, it’s imperative to invest and partner in a way that makes strategic sense for the city and financial sense for the taxpayers, and that grows Durham inclusively.  Educating the public, developing policies, allocating resources as well as commitment by city leadership are necessary ingredients in partnerships with property owners, foundations, and neighborhoods that make these projects possible – and I hope to strengthen those partnerships as mayor.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

HPC has an important role to play – it fulfills its mission well, and it works to preserve the city’s history and facilitate growth. The collaboration between city officials and the HPC on development projects has been positive, and I certainly do not think its role should be diminished. Our downtown is a place where people want to spend time because we have worked to preserve the resources that make it desirable – both economic and cultural – and HPC plays a central part in that effort.

Yes, our local historic districts do provide value. Preserving our architectural past certainly helps keep alive the beautiful history of our city, but historical designations can also have economic value. In some cases, policies like demolition delay can save historic buildings from rash decision-making; in others, when homeowners agree that historic designation is right for their community, the neighborhood can benefit from more valuable homes.

Yes, it’s possible that I could support additional historic districts – but these decisions must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It’s difficult to answer without specifics because every community is different. The most important thing a mayor can do is to bring people together. With these decisions, it’s critical that the mayor listens to residents and community members, and so long as I am mayor, a decision will not be made until everyone has an opportunity to be heard.  

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

There is no doubt that preservation is central to the revitalization of historic neighborhoods. Time and again, preservation work that is done with concern for the community has proven instrumental in enriching the lives of residents and retaining what is so valuable about our city’s history. The Preservation Association has been a tremendous leader and asset in the advocacy efforts and in increasing awareness of historical structures as an asset and stabilizer of neighborhoods particularly in the east Durham Community.

Practically, this means city leadership must maintain strong relationships with neighborhoods; earn the trust of homeowners by preserving properties while affording agency to residents; and think critically about how projects affect all residents. It is certainly true that these projects cannot come at the expense of the most vulnerable among us: we must work hard to minimize the impact of gentrification on low-income communities. We must not allow historical preservation and affordable housing to become mutually exclusive. The growth Durham has witnessed over the last 15 years stands testament to our capacity to reinvest in communities, retain the historical feel that reminds us why Durham is home, and recommit ourselves to empowering an economic and cultural revitalization of our city.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

I believe we must continue to take steps as City Council has done with passing proposals that provide assistance for long-term homeowners and elderly citizens with deferred maintenance needs as well as tax relief when property values have risen due to the city’s revitalization investment in the community. Such investments will stabilize and further strengthen the ability to counter gentrification.

Tracy Drinker

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

I’m not sure if Historic Stagville is considered a part of Durham but it’s one of two landmarks that I think are significant and important to the history of Durham along with the Hayti Heritage Center.  Approximately 4 years ago I visited the Historic Stagville property as part of our family reunion here in Durham and it truly resonated the struggle and oppressive nature in todays society.  Then my visits to the Hayti Heritage Center represented how far as a community the African American Community had come and represents a presence of where we can truly take our city in the coming years as we look back on it’s history.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

I believe the City of Durham has done an excellent job in trying to preserve some if not most of it’s very profound and rich place in American history with regulations on use or reuse of historical edifices. I believe moving forward that the communities which have these landmarks should become more aware of their existence and are part of that decision along with the City Council.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

I feel the Historic Preservation Commission plays a big part as to the bearing of our historical properties along with landlords and other entities. Together as a unit I think they will do table, discuss and bring forth what they feel is best for our growing communities. As to the value that can only be determined by what form of districting and property being evaluated.  I do support additional local historic districts as long as it doesn’t take away from our move towards affordable housing, but of course it would be voted on a case by case basis.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

It would play a bigger role if the people of the community are included in the conversation to either bring it to the City Council or the Preservation Commission. Inclusion and transparency are vital.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

I do support long-term homeowners particularly our elderly citizens here in Durham.  We must start by reaching out educating those homeowners more frequently about programs like the Homestead Exclusion, Disabled Veterans Exclusion and Circuit Breaker Deferred program for our elderly.  These programs appear to be very helpful but we must be more aggressive in helping our elderly citizens even more.

Pierce Freelon

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

I am sitting on the steps of the Hayti Heritage Center on the corner of Lakewood and Fayetteville. To my right, in the distance, the skeleton of a 28-story skyscraper towers over the city. A loud pop draws my attention. Gunshots? No. Fireworks ricochet from the Durham Bulls stadium, off the County jail. The roar of the crowd finds me on the steps of the Hayti. Durham is celebrating a victory.

To my left, a community is under siege from decades of disinvestment. No banks, bakeries, or breweries here. Instead, I see bail bondsmen, corner stores, and fried chicken; anchored by The Hayti, with her strong red bricks, erupting defiantly out of the fading legacy of Black Wall Street.

Decades ago, Highway 147 opened the veins of the Black community here. I can still see the scars.

Down Lakewood Avenue, a large mural adorns the side of Food World at Heritage Square. It is in a slow process of decay. Painted in 1999 by Emily Weinstein, the Black Wall Street Community Mural depicts a vibrant intergenerational black community. Images of children, churchgoers, business people, musicians, and educators grace the wall in homage to Hayti’s legacy of resilience. After years of neglect, the mural is crumbling. Large swatches of hardened paint protrude from the wall like blisters. The adjacent neighborhood, St. Teresa, suffered a similar fate of deterioration. In a process spanning over a decade, families were evicted and the homes of working-class folks were boarded-up, condemned, and bulldozed. Today those homes, and families, have largely been replaced by new homes with new tax-brackets.

This is gentrification. This is the story of Durham, and the story of the United States. This scene reflects in visual form the issues we’re struggling with as a city today. We have a rich history here, and risk erasing that history by perpetuating displacement. As Mayor, I will work to address these issues and preserve the legacies of our ancestors.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes, I do believe that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be central to development, downtown and throughout Durham. This should be meaningful historic preservation, and not superficial lip-service. There should be a thorough examination of the sites, and accountability for promises of historic preservation by the developer, as well as a measure for ensuring equitable results in questions about whose history is preserved and how.

Liberty Warehouse Apartments is one example of a development that fell short of its potential to preserve Durham’s history and culture. Another example is the former Penny Furniture Building on Morris Street. When the out-of-town developers the Caktus Group bought the building to “renovate” it, they erased a beautiful mural with over 800 local flora and fauna on its side, which took dozens of local residents over 6-months to paint, without a second thought. We can learn from these examples, when we weigh the opportunities for development against the costs of sacrificing the preservation of our historic culture and values. I was born and raised in Durham, and as the city continues to grow and gentrify, I will be a Mayor that champions people over profits, and culture over bottom lines.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

A recent controversial zoning case in which the guidance of the Historic Preservation Commission was crucial was that of the Golden Belt Historic Designation, where Golden Belt was zoned a historic district in a 3-4 split against the wishes of the Durham Rescue Mission. This was a tough issue with valid arguments on both sides. The Golden Belt community, aligned with the Durham Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission, wanted to protect the historical integrity of their neighborhood while the Rescue Mission wanted to be excluded in order to avoid the bureaucracy and higher cost associated with developing a historic area. With the knowledge I have on this case, I believe the city decided correctly, and that the two goals are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps, though, as members of the Golden Belt community noted, the controversy is really rooted in the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood. If it was a upper-income neighborhood, the question of whether homeownership should be preserved or promoted would not even exist. The guidance of the Historic Preservation Commission, as well as the input of community members themselves and stakeholders such as Preservation Durham and others, is necessary as the city makes decisions about preserving our history, while meeting other goals such as affordable housing and equitable growth. As mayor, I intend to bridge these kinds of divides.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

The aforementioned example of the Golden Belt community speaks to this question. Preservation is a value, rooted in our desire to preserve legacy. It is a shout-out to our ancestors. I am reminded of the West African Adinkra symbol sankofa . Symbolized as a bird moving forward but looking backward, sankofa emphasizes the importance of learning from the past to guide one’s steps. Often times, the most vulnerable populations don’t have the privilege of being preserved, they are simply erased. When highway 147 was built, hundreds of homes and businesses in Historic Hayti were erased. Fayette Place was erased. The St. Theresa neighborhood is in the process of being erased.

Let me put on my sankofa hat real quick. My ancestor James Baldwin once called Urban Renewal; “Negro Removal”. He had a lesson to teach us, which is still relevant today. We need to make sure revitalization in Durham does not mean “displacing/erasing” in Durham. We do that through preservation, and through investments in jobs, job training, affordable housing, mixed-income housing and education.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

One way I hope to support long-term homeowners is through the implementation of a circuit breaker to provide property tax relief to low-income homeowners, including to low-income elderly citizens, to ensure that long-term homeowners are not displaced, and to help ensure that they have some of their own resources available to address maintenance needs.

The circuit breaker could be implemented using a multiple threshold formula, which takes several factors into account, including age, ability, and income, when determining the extent of the tax break. Circuit breakers that help renters and homeowners exist elsewhere. We should learn from those models that work.

Importantly, circuit breakers are another way the city can play a role in slowing the growing racial wealth gap. Rising property taxes undermine wealth building opportunities for local residents who, all of a sudden, see their property taxes jump and who do not have the bandwidth to keep up. Circuit breakers alleviate some of the pressure on them to move out of their homes, or sell out and relocate. This is only one tool in our kit to stabilize the rapid growth and alleviate pressure off low or fixed income residents. If structured correctly in relation to our city’s eviction crisis, circuit breakers could also provide relief for the low-income renter as well. Specifically, landlords would not feel the pressure to increase rents to keep up with rising property taxes.


The city had no problems giving breaks to developers, which contribute to the rising costs of homes, so let’s use the same incentives that we gave to developers to create reciprocity for citizens who have historically been pushed out by development.

Kershemia Ramirez

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

Durham has a lot of rich history, but my favorite would be Historic Parrish Street/Black Wall Street. It reminds us of a time when black people flourished in business and wealth. A time when we worked together for the common good of or community and supported each other. It also reminds me of now. I think we are just at the edge of another emergence of Black Wall Street. As a business owner, this is an exciting time.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes, I think preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings is very important. I’m sure lots of people did not think Durham would recover after the closure of the tobacco factories, but look what was done to the buildings. They are beautiful and remind us of our history, but take us into a modern future. I would like to continue to see other sites done in the same fashion, but give Durham residents some ownership in the properties.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

I would like to see HPC continue to carry out their current functions with guiding us into the future. The current sites and landmarks that are determined to be historic sites are appropriate. I also, feel that the way in which properties are determined to be of historic importance is appropriate through use of community residents and the HPC. Durham is now known for its combination of historic and modern feel. It captures the heart of tourist and residents and I would support the adding of additional local historic districts.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

The historic neighborhoods should be revitalized in a modern fashion to capture the period of current architecture, but could have sites within the neighborhoods that highlight the history of that site. This could be captured through use of signage, pictures, sculptures, or parks.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

When a site is deemed to be historic, it is important that the elderly citizens are a part of that history. All structures should be revitalized in the same fashion with residents having input and maintaining ownership. Citizens and elderly should not be displaced from their neighborhoods due to revitalization.

Steve Schewel

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

I have several favorites, and I’ll mention four. I love beautiful little Massey Chapel because it reminds me of a bygone rural past. The John O’Daniel Exchange is one of my favorites because of its location and the way its preservation and re-activation have helped revitalize a neighborhood. The Gray Building and the old Erwin Mill textile mill buildings are a wonderful re-use, and they remind us that Durham has an important textile past as well as a tobacco past. But my favorite has got to be the Hill Building, now 21c. It’s such a Durham icon. The architecture is so interesting. It represents the prosperity of Durham’s gilded age in much the same way as the tobacco factories do. And the current renovation is splendid.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes. One of the main reasons Durham has re-ignited our downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods is the preservation and adaptive re-use of our historic buildings. In fact, Durham’s downtown comeback would never have occurred without the adaptive re-use of Brightleaf, West Village, American Tobacco, and all that followed from the Kress Building to the Parish St. renovations to 21c and the new Unscripted Hotel. People want to be in those buildings. They want to walk by them and enjoy their architectural uniqueness and beauty. So we need to continue this tradition by identifying and protecting landmark buildings and keeping the standards for historic preservation strong within downtown.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

I think the HPC has an important role to play, and I think it plays that role well. HPC’s vetting of the appropriate projects with the guidance of City staff is working well, and I am not in favor of weakening HPC’s mandate. By providing protection for our historic resources, the HPC is keeping downtown Durham attractive to the people who want to live, work and play here. Historic preservation is driving growth in Durham, not hindering it, and the HPC is a key element of this work.

Yes, I think historic districts add value. I live in one–Watts-Hillandale–so I know the additional work this designation can require of homeowners who want to make repairs or renovations or additions to their homes. I have applied for and received permission when we rebuilt a stone foundation for our house. But this extra hassle, and sometimes extra money, is worth it to both our family and to the community. I feel certain that the historic district designation has raised the value of homes in Watts-Hillandale. And I know the community benefits from the preservation of older homes.

I can’t answer in the abstract about whether or not I would support other historic districts. I will have to answer this on a case-by-case basis. During the last year, I was proud to strongly support the historic district designation for the Golden Belt neighborhood along the borders recommended by the Historic Preservation Commission, which passed the city council on a 4-3 vote. We now have eight historic districts. There are other potential historic district designations among Durham neighborhoods from Trinity Park to Old East Durham, and the council will soon be considering an expansion of the Holloway Street Local Historic District Overlay. I will make a judgment in this case and all others that might be brought to us on a case-by-case basis, listening to both preservationists and neighborhood residents to make my decision. I especially value the comments of the Historic Preservation Commission during these deliberations.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

I think preservation is critically important in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods. I am glad to see the preservation work that is being done on older homes from Cleveland-Holloway to Driver St. by homeowners who recognize the value of this historic construction and architecture. I know that conflicts sometimes arise between preservationists and neighborhood advocates who want old, abandoned or boarded up houses torn down. But I am glad to say that there is much less of this in Durham than there was 10 years ago as neighborhoods have embraced the value of their historic properties.

Unfortunately, historic preservation and redevelopment often go hand-in-hand with the ills of gentrification. We need to decouple this relationship insofar as we can. We need to recognize the need for reinvestment in communities that have suffered from disinvestment, but we–the City and the community–need to support affordable housing initiatives that will mitigate the negative effects of gentrification on established neighborhoods. This can occur alongside historic preservation if we have the civic will to make affordable housing a priority. I work every single day to push forward our affordable housing agenda.

The prosperity of downtown, spurred by the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, shows the way for our neighborhoods. We want beautiful and functional new architecture in Durham. But we also need to preserve the old buildings that give our City its unique and lovely character and help us make an emotional connection to our City and its past.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

First, I want to commend Preservation Durham for its own creative efforts in this direction through its Preservation Equity project. This project combines free technical assistance under the auspices of Preservation Durham with a low-interest loan from the Self-Help Credit Union to help people in homes at least 50 years old maintain and stay in their homes. This is a new program, but it has great promise, and I support it fully.

Second, I commend the work of the Durham non-profit organizations who have come together to form the Home Repair Collaborative, and I support City funding of this effort through the City’s dedicated housing fund. These organizations all participate in home repair in different ways. Some of them do minor repairs, and some major. Their work together seeks to rationalize our citywide system of home repair for low-income homeowners, matching the right kind of repair with the right non-profit organization to do the job well.

Third, we need to ramp up City funding for these repairs for low-income homeowners, and we need to do it through the dedicated housing fund. The City’s housing consultant, Enterprise Community Partners, has recommended a significant increase in the City’s work in this area, and I look forward to City staff coming forward during the coming fiscal year with a comprehensive plan to fund this work. We know that the most significant barrier to low-income homeowners being able to remain in their home is usually their inability to pay for critically necessary repairs. The City can make a real difference in this work, and we should.

Sylvester Williams

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

Editor’s note: Williams cited the North Carolina Mutual Life Building Wikipedia page in naming his favorite historic building in Durham. He writes: “it testifies to Durham’s interracial business heritage and also a place where, if given a chance, everyone can succeed.”

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Preservation and adaptive reuse is a constant reminder of the struggles and accomplishments of past generations.  As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words, so are the buildings with such rich history attached.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

Historic Preservation Commission should be smart in planning.  It should not try to displace or prevent growth in areas where jobs are scarce and housing lacking.   

If historic districts are planned properly it can be a boon to development and growth in the city.  

Yes, if planned properly.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Before any consultation is made with the local government, the people in the community being affected should be consulted.  The community should also be encouraged to prevent information or data to support their positions.  

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

Long-term homeowners would have a moratorium on their taxes as long as they are the homeowners or the homestead is maintained in the family without significant changes to the external structure.

WARD 1 CANDIDATES

Cora Cole-McFadden

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

My first  favorite landmark is the Lyon Park Community Life Center because it was at one time Lyon Park Elementary School where so many of us had to walk to school from my neighborhood, Brookstown, to school because of a system of segregation in Durham.  Brookstown was located between the East and West campuses of Duke University; one of the neighborhoods completely wiped out by Highway 47.   This school helped to shape my life and zest to make a difference.  When I enter the building now, fond memories of my early years warm my heart.  A photo of teachers who were a part of my life hangs in a prominent place as you enter the building.  My 2nd favorite is the Veranda at Whitted School.  Whitted School was a Jr. High School when I was growing up.  We had to pass predominantly white schools every day and travel across town because of segregated schools.  Many elected officials have come through this school.  My 8th grade teacher still lives. Such a rich history.  That’s Durham.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

I recall the Liberty Warehouse development and the discussions regarding preservation.  As result, what could be safely preserved was and it is beautiful.  The preserved pieces represent what was a booming economy where many people were employed and prospered during that time.  People make history /places worth preserving.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

HPC is governed by the terms of the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement, the UDO and NCGS 160A.  When we embark on a rewrite of the Comprehensive Plan HPC will play an important role in this work.  Local historic districts can add value but sometimes seniors and lower income homeowners face displacement when so many limitations are placed on their properties and tax increases can also be a hardship.  I prefer to make decisions when recommendations come before the council based on the merit of each case.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Cultural sustainability, economic sustainable and environmental sustainability.  Preservation is key to Sustainable development.  Maintaining as much of the original fabric as possible is maintaining the character of the historic neighborhood.(Rypkema)

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

I believe elderly homeowners should be top priority for maintenance and home repair through the dedicated housing fund.

DeDreana Freeman

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

This is tough! Both the Golden Belt Historic District and Pauli Murray House have personal significance. I live in the Golden Belt Historic District. Pauli Murray house was home of Anna Pauli Murray, an Episcopal minister, Woman of Color, and Civil Rights Leader who took on the the fight for women’s rights and won. That being said, I still have to go with the historic neighborhood I live in as my favorite. With bungalows and farmhouses of centuries past, the mill village beckons the history of working families here in Durham. Since my neighbors and I worked to have it designated a local historic district, with the Golden Belt Manufacturing Company as the anchor, it will always hold a special place in my heart. In the process of historic designation, I learned so many tidbits about the history of the site, the developer and Durham as a whole. It is also one of my favorites because of the re-use, re-purpose and creative possibilities that it represents for our city and community to be a sustainable mixed-income, mixed-use and mixed-community space, which embodies the essence of Durham as the culture capital of the Triangle. This is why my neighbors and I worked to preserve the surrounding mill village as Golden Belt’s Historic Neighborhood in 2009. The battle with a local developer who tried to limit the small neighborhood to half its National Historic District resulted in a 4-3 City Council vote in our favor.

https://durhamnc.gov/1552/Golden-Belt-Historic-District

As stated on the Preservation Durham website: “Golden Belt Manufacturing Company’s industrial buildings take up more than one-third of the district. This seven-acre complex of factories, warehouses, and offices covers the gentle slope that descends from the railroad tracks at the district’s west edge. The Romanesque Revival architecture of the factory buildings features towers, ornamental brickwork, rows of closely spaced arched windows, and Doric pilasters on the main facades that face the railroad tracks.” http://preservationdurham.org/index.php/golden-belt/

My family and I have visited so many historic properties that are listed on the Open Durham site (it’s such a great resource), and there are so many more I have yet to visit. My favorite might shift in the future.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes. Preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development. I think it is important to preserve historic architectural structures as part of preserving the history of the people of Durham. Project RED is a good concept that can be enriched with a racial equity lens that tells the story of redlining and the historic context of disparities in homeownership for so many disenfranchised property owners. The current development in downtown has expanded into surrounding locations in suburban historic neighborhoods of color causing gentrification and displacing residents. To combat this process, we could combine adaptive reuse into the city’s Minor Repairs program with the Preservation Equity Project to seek funding as well as state and federal Preservation Tax Credits. For example, the Fayetteville Street Plan in Hayti could be revived to prevent forced displacement. The Economic and Community Development departments of the city could collaborate with Preservation Durham to support a program for both historic structures and property owners, based on income with a priority for seniors and people with disabilities, to preserve historic properties and our housing stock by preventing the City of Durham from condemning houses or issuing a repair order due to deterioration caused by limited income.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has a primary role to play in preserving the history of Durham. However, it is extraordinarily important that it does not cause harm to residents or community in doing so. The architectural and structural integrity of many properties, as well as future growth, can be supported and guided by the HPC plan. I think the Pauli Murray House is a great example of the positive outcomes produced by HPC’s guidance. This house has been restored and opened as a museum to tell the story of Durham in terms of the actual history living on and the importance we place on historic preservation. The value of local historic districts is three fold in that we tell our city story to future generations, prevent filling landfills and we as a community define what is valuable to us. As a Planning Commissioner for the last three years, I have supported additional local historic districts and would continue to do so on the City Council. The value that historic properties bring to a city is not just in tax revenue but in city pride.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Revitalizing and creating both equitable and sustainable historic neighborhoods through preservation is obtainable in Durham. We can look to Denver, Colorado as an example. In Denver, they took an equitable approach to revitalize LoDo using preservation as a tool to provide jobs, affordable housing and economic growth. With an equitable focus on revitalization, we can drive outcomes that decrease disparities. We have a chance to create and breathe life into the vision of an Equitable Durham where everyone’s needs are met. Revitalization has to go further. We have to continue to work against systemic and institutionalized oppression. As a Commissioner, I have pressed for the environmental justice responses that allow for an analysis of the impact to people of color and other marginalized populations. If we had these analyses included in staff reports to the Planning Commission and City Council, we could track our equitable decision making.

Additionally, the current city preservation plan is limited to fiscal year work plans without reprioritization based on lapse of time. For instance, while I appreciate the petition process that the City/County Planning department has put in place — when it operates inefficiently (i.e. Golden Belt and Cleveland Holloway) it creates community frustration. But, with great efficiencies in addressing community requests, within a calendar year or two, we can engage resident participation in the process. For example, a community where preservation plays a supportive role is in the link below, noting it is necessary to preserve what communities deem to be historic.

https://rampages.us/sustainability200/2015/03/17/from-skid-row-to-lodo-histo ric-preservations-role-in-denvers-revitalization/

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

Please see my response to Q. 2 above about collaboration and combined services and programs of Preservation Durham and the City. It is important to note that we need more equitable services to accommodate the section of our population that is aging in place. To address equity issues in preservation for long-term homeowners such programs and services mentioned in Q.2 will need to take a higher priority than it currently does. City and County collaboration with partners in preservation can support funding social impact bonds that address a multitude of housing needs for long-term homeowners, to address deferred maintenance needs of seniors and people with disabilities throughout the City and County. Vetting contractors and providing funding for the repairs are a start in developing supports.

WARD 2 CANDIDATES

LeVon Barnes

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

My favorite historic site is Hayti community. When I moved to Durham, all I really heard about what was Black Wall Street and Hayti. As I began to research how you had the tale of two self-containing cities on each side of the railroad tracks that for the most part had mutual respect for the other. The post civil war saw a huge economic impact in Durham especially in Hayti where the self-made businessman thrived innovation and imagination blossomed but also how one key decision destroyed the history of what was once so promising. The decision to build Hwy 147 has had such a profoundly negative impact on the black community, but the concept of Hayti and Black Wall Street is something that needs to remerge from the ashes. We need to reinvest in this area, where we see local innovators and business folks are able to bring their ideas to light in an area where there is a lot of gloom. We need to preserve the spirit of this district and bring it back to prominence.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

As the city continues to grow and develop a new life of its own I find it imperative that we preserve buildings in our downtown area that have historic meaning. I believe you can create a new vision and history but you always have to remember where we started. The students we serve and the new visitors and residents all need to see Durham’s rich history. However there are buildings and structures that do need massive renovations or if they cannot be saved be demolished for public safety but those recommendations should be viewed on case-by-case basis. I would like to see our downtown district be a mixture of new modern style while maintaining our historic feel.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The Historic Preservation Commission is a valuable organization within the communities to ensure that areas deemed important maintain their historic charm and changed with modern construction. Yes, maintaining historic districts adds value to a community in most cases it maintains the community property value even in a downturn economy and restricts developers from new construction that would reshape the beauty of a neighborhood with new developments. Yes, I do support additional local historic districts. As Durham is vastly changing, historic districts within the inner city can preserve their inner beauty and ensure that significant changes will not undergo in matured areas while retaining its character. But if elected I would also make decisions based on public comment because I like to hear from all citizens that are either in favor or not.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

While revitalization will have a significant impact and aide in local economic and community preservation, simply economic growth at the expense of local community and the quality life issues is to find a balance that will accommodate all members of the community. I find that the best solutions come when we work with groups and organizations on the ground to help the city leadership in making informed decisions. I believe that more discussion is needed between the HPC, property owners and the city because this will continue to be an issue as gentrification continues to take control in Durham.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

Providing tax credits and grants to encourage and facilitate rehabilitation for existing long-term homeowners and assist with the high rising costs that will bestowed on them as their property value increase. I think the city has taken a step in the right direction by passing a budget that focused on affordable housing. I do however feel the city needs to invest more in making sure our long-term homeowners are not being forced out of their homes or have to go back into the workforce. As a council, a city we must use and apply all possible resources to help alleviate the burden placed on our most precious commodity our most seasoned citizens. I’m passionate on this issue because we all know someone who has built a home and invested in this city long before this new growth occurred, it would be a complete disappointment and against the common values all Durhamites believe in if we as the city could not keep these folks in their homes. I look forward to being a champion in this endeavor working with HPC and other organizations to ensure that Durham is a place for everyone.

DeAnna Hall

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

The North Carolina Mutual/Mechanics & Farmers Bank Building (114-116 West Parrish Street, Durham, NC 27701) is my favorite historic property/landmark in Durham because it not only represents the hub of African American businesses and financial services in Durham during a time when disenfranchising and openly violating rights was common, but also represents the spirit of entrepreneurship that has endured even in 2017.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes, preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development when possible.  A balanced approach to retain historical integrity, while creating livable and usable spaces for current and future generations is optimal.  Additionally, reviewing properties for feasibility and how reuse relates to the vision of downtown development should be considered.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The duties of the Historic Preservation Commission are to determine the appropriateness by state law, local ordinances and historic preservation plans.  Partnerships between the HPC and City staff will help guide future growth in Durham.  

Historical districts add value in safeguarding the architectural integrity of existing properties and inspiring reconstruction efforts of those same properties; all the while giving residents designation to help direct the path of their community.

Similar to the partnership between HPC and City staff ensures growth, a partnership between preservationists and neighborhood residents would be the foundation for determining the feasibility of additional local historic districts.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Preservation opens the windows to the past and how the past affected the way our community was built-thus influencing the way we live today.  Historic neighborhoods provide a view into the journey to the present, but also set the direction for the future.  Additionally, preserving our history promotes civic participation and alliance.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

Lack of funding for routine maintenance can cause neglect, allowing minor repair work to evolve into more serious conditions.  Educating elderly citizens and their caregivers on tax exemption options; the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency programs; partnering with volunteer/college student; civic, religious and charitable organizations; ensuring elderly citizens are participating in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs; and collaborating with developers, non-profit organizations, community and city leaders to establish a housing and home improvement program for aging adults are all strategies to support citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs.

Robert Fluet

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

My father and I bonded over baseball when I was a child. In the time that he had when he wasn’t at one of his jobs, he’d play catch with my two brothers and I. About four months after I first moved to North Carolina my parents came to visit. Of all the places I needed to show my father, at the top was Historic Durham Athletic Park. When we walked by, funny enough my mother commented, “I think I saw this in a movie once.” There are so many great sites in Durham that have been preserved, but this memory brings a smile to my face every time.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

We have two options as we develop. We can cookie cutter everything, and look just like every other cookie cutter city; or we can have some Durham Flavor. I choose DURM. By combining the history of this city with first rate design we can develop a city that is visually appealing, and tells a story. An example is the Vault in the 21C. My firm holds their annual conference in Durham, and the generally our attendees are made up of Architects, Engineers and Construction Executives. We held an event in the Vault and these business leaders were giddy as children, talking about history and marveling at engineering feats. That makes Durham a destination. That’s my vision of Durham.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The HPC has an important part to play in the city’s growth. I believe that the HPC should serve as the city’s Jimminy Cricket. Remind us of where we came from, and help be a voice of reason for our city.

I believe that historic districts add value, however I would like to review some data regarding the numbers regarding value. We must understand that a project in a historic district has more rigid requirements then one that sits outside of one; those come with additional costs, sometimes custom engineering, and often times more forethought. This would obviously drive up the costs of preservation, as well maintenance costs.

I would be open to supporting additional local historic districts, however I would need to see data that ensure that historical districts provide opportunity, and do not push out the existing residents due to rising housing costs. I would review these on a case by case basis.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Preservation is a beautiful thing. It helps tell our story; however our story is also changing, it ebbs and flows. Change happens.

Preservation can mean many things to different people. Some may see a beautifully preserved home and be amazed by the accomplishments of our predecessors. Others may see dilapidated properties, with boarded windows as a blight on their neighborhood, or a hot bed for crime. Some may see those locations as an opportunity for profit. Some may see preservation as the first step to them being forced out of their homes.

We must, as a city, ensure that as we build a vision of what our new Durham will look like every citizen is considered. One of my mantras is A City should not be judged by the number of millionaires that dwell inside it, it should be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable and weak inside it. We must not allow Historic Districts to add to our gentrification problem.   

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

I would like to review and implement a program that would provide low interest deferred loans for the elderly, as well as the handicapped, to assist them with significant deferred maintenance. I am hoping to be able to find federal funding through HUD. HUD has previously provided funds to assist with this program for the Elderly.

Mark-Anthony Middleton

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

I am deeply moved and inspired each time I visit the Stagville State Historic Site. The life transactions that occurred on that sacred ground renew my commitment to fighting for a more just city and reminds me of how vested all of us are in the soil of our great state. I consider it a jewel in Durham’s crown to have a sight of such national significance within our limits.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

I certainly want it to be a significant tenet. I don’t know if I would characterize it as a central tenet. The central tenet of downtown development should be inclusion. I want an economically thriving and aesthetically pleasing downtown that is reflective of our city’s diversity. With that said, some of the most indelible images of cities around the world that I have visited are a result of adaptive reuse of historic buildings. This includes shopping arcades, hotels, and apartment buildings. I would be open to exploring the use of incentives for developers to maintain the historical integrity of downtown structures while adding to our local economy and experiencing profitability.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The bequeathment of an intact historical legacy to successive generations is one of the noblest pursuits of a government. The Historic Preservation Commission should always have a seat at the table in my opinion. However, I realize that this is because I believe that local historic districts are valuable to the culture and marketability of a city. This is not a given, however, among all who seek leadership positions in our culture. There is a school of thought that emphasizes development and market saturation over historic preservation for the good of a population. For many economics trumps nostalgia. I believe that it is important for Durham to elect and empower leadership that seeks a balance between honoring our past and embracing our future.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

I am in favor of preservation in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods so long as it does not place any undue financial burden on low income and/or elderly residents of the neighborhood. This is of particular concern for me with respect to low income and/or elderly residents that are long term residents of the neighborhood in question. In my assessment, most neighborhoods are “historic” precisely because of the people rather than the structures.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

As a city councilor, I will ask our city manager and staff to ensure that we are maximizing our eligibility and receipt of Federal HOME funds to assist in various areas of housing including maintenance issues. I am also in favor of homeowner stabilization grants for qualified long-term homeowners in areas that have experienced large tax increases due to gentrification. The hope is that these grants would provide greater financial flexibility to address maintenance needs.

Dolly Reaves

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

I really don’t think I can pick one “favorite”. I have certain appreciations for different historical landmarks, districts, and buildings, so I can offer two, in no particular order, to mention. One is the American Tobacco Campus. This blending of old and new with the utilization of the old tobacco warehouse is a wonderful testament to how Durham came to be known as the Bull City. The other one is the Hayti district rich in culture and history, being the place where African Americans could eat and sleep without discrimination and being turned down for service during the Jim Crow era.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Historic buildings are what keep the history of Durham, and any city, alive. We stand on the shoulders of our history and should aim to keep it alive by ways of creative utilization that stays true to its past.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The role that HPC should play is in building the city and county government in the processes of zoning (or not zoning) districts that should be historic and preserved. Bringing the history lesson to the table to justify why something should remain preserved is important. These historical properties are invaluable and should be preserved when feasible.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Preservation in historic neighborhoods is vital to ensure that any revitalization done in that area captures the moment in time to be preserved. There is a concept called “zoning by design” that I follow closely to learn how to implement that here in Durham.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

On the City Council, I will fight for homeowners in the city by continuing to support, expand, and improve services, like circuit breaker, for homeowners who can’t afford their property taxes. For maintenance needs, the city can implement or support programs that offer services for senior citizens and anyone who is disabled. Habitat for humanity is one such program.

WARD 3 CANDIDATES

Sheila Ann Huggins

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

My first Preservation Durham tour occurred before I was even a resident of Durham. The advertisements about the tour mentioned old (yet-to-be renovated) tobacco warehouses, and I was hooked. We probably should have been wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots, but we weren’t. We simply watched where we stepped and kept going. Since that time, I’ve attended many Preservation Durham tours including tours in Old North Durham, Hope Valley, Downtown, Watts-Hillandale, and Duke Park among others. I’ve worked in Golden Belt where I had an office with original brick walls, and I’ve managed bond-funded construction project work at the Hayti Heritage Center. To pick a favorite is a hard task when you’ve been around so many properties that capture the essence of historic and community preservation.

If I had to choose a favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, I would probably choose the older cemeteries or older sections of the cemeteries in Durham. It’s a different connection to Durham to walk through old cemeteries and see the architecture, read the names, and explore our history. It’s a way of getting to know the people behind the places, the people who gave Durham its start. As a genealogist, I have visited many cemeteries and studied my family history back to the 1830s. For me, community history is just as important as family history. In fact, they are inter-related in a way that gives our community its strength.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

I wholeheartedly support the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, not just in downtown, but throughout Durham. Additionally, I support the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic properties in general, not just buildings.

I worked for the City of Durham for nine years. During my tenure with the City, I managed the real estate division and oversaw the Request for Proposals process for the sale of 102 Morris Street. In coordination with the property purchaser, Preservation Durham, OEWD, City-County Planning and other City departments, I submitted an agenda item for Council approval which included detailed information about the historic preservation of the building including the following historic preservation terms:

“102 Morris Street is located within the Downtown Durham Local Historic District for which there is a Downtown Durham Historic District Preservation Plan. The plan states that the preservation of the City’s historic fabric is a continuing concern in the face of growth and development, and the overlay zone provides a means of achieving a sound policy for rehabilitation, new construction, and streetscape improvements within the historic district. The purpose of the district is to safeguard the heritage of downtown properties by preserving and protecting historic buildings, structures and sites that embody cultural, social, economic, political, and architectural history. Consequently, 102 Morris Street is bound by the Unified Development Ordinance, Paragraph 3.18.1A:

From and after the designation of an historic district or historic landmark, no exterior feature or designated portion of any building or other structure (including masonry walls, fences, light fixtures, steps, pavement, and other appurtenant features) nor any above-ground utility structure nor any type of outdoor advertising sign shall be erected, altered, restored, moved, or demolished within or on such historic district or historic landmark until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to the exterior feature or designated portion has been submitted to and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission.

The proposal from Re:Vamp Durham includes plans to preserve the exterior façade of the building by restoring existing storefronts and transoms, repairing and repainting existing exterior masonry and wood trim, and restoring interior plaster walls, pressed tin ceilings and beaded board ceilings. All exterior modifications would require approval by the Durham Historic Preservation Commission.

In order to ensure that the historic preservation of the interior of the property is

executed in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and because of HPSD’s expertise in managing the rehabilitation of historic properties, the City proposes to sell an option to HPSD conditioned upon HPSD entering into a purchase option agreement with Re:Vamp Durham. The cost of the HPSD option is $250.00, and the initial option period shall end September 30, 2011. The option may be extended for no more than four additional consecutive three calendar month periods for an additional $100.00 for each extension period. Once HPSD exercises its option with the City, Re:Vamp Durham will then exercise its option with HPSD, and the closings will be simultaneous. The end result will be ownership by Re:Vamp Durham, conditioned upon its rehabilitation agreement with HPSD.”

102 Morris Street is now home to several businesses and has a combined property tax value of over $1,000,000. It has business owners and provides services and jobs to our city, and it does so without destroying the legacy of our past. Imagine what the Biltmore Hotel and the Woolworth Building could have contributed today if they were still standing. This is why preservation and adaptive reuse is important to our community.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

When North Carolina Central University sought to tear down 1712 Fayetteville Street, the former home of the renowned civil rights photographer Alex Rivera and African-American architect Gaston Alonzo Edwards, I attended the meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission and spoke against the tear down. Although the home had been renovated over the years, I believed that the history of the home’s owners provided an opportunity for the university to expand its public history program and also provided an opportunity for the university to support the College Heights neighborhood by renovating and reusing the property. Unfortunately, the university’s administration did not believe that the property fit within its plans for growth.

I believe that the HPC provides a valuable service to our community. I also believe that the HPC can work well with residents, developers, and community organizations as a guiding platform for discussing and considering the redevelopment of historic properties in the city as the city continues to grow. I support additional local historic districts to the extent that the property owners in the districts support the designation and that the districts being considered will contribute to overall city vision and comprehensive development plan.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

I believe that preservation is one of many components that can play an important part in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods. However, we need to make sure that as we support revitalization and investment in our historic neighborhoods, we are not contributing to the displacement of the current homeowners and tenants living in those neighborhoods. Because of years of neglect and disinvestment in our lower-wealth neighborhoods, those very neighborhoods have become attractive for investors with the resources to renovate properties and change the culture and fabric of these communities. The renovation of sub-standard or under-invested rental properties can significant increase the rental costs for tenants, can result in increased evictions, and can leave residents feeling that there is no longer a place for them in the city that they have called home for years. Therefore, although I support the revitalization of historic neighborhoods, I believe that we must take care to support revitalization in a way that does not displace current residents.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

I would propose considering the following options to assist our elderly residents with their significant deferred maintenance needs:

  • Partnering with community organizations that provide assistance to help elderly citizens complete projects resulting from deferred maintenance
  • Providing financial support through a city grant program and/or low or no-interest loan program
  • Partnering with businesses and community organizations to teach homeowner maintenance and repair skills that may alleviate the extent of future deferred maintenance needs.

Don Moffitt

  1. What is your favorite historic property, landmark, or site in Durham, and why?

The Carolina Theatre. It’s past is an important story in understanding Durham’s transformation from a segregationist southern city to a community dealing with issues of racial equity. It provides historical context for downtown, and it was protected through a vigorous community effort. It’s a lovely building that is well maintained and that is full of activity.

  1. Do you think that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be a central tenet of downtown development? If so, how? If not, why?

Yes, adaptive reuse of historic buildings should be (and is) a central tenet of downtown development. Downtown is shaping up to be a mix of old and new, with the old being two story “low rise” buildings and the new expanding upwards.

  1. What role do you think the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) should play in guiding future growth? Do you think local historic districts provide value? Do you support additional local historic districts?

The HPC plays an important role in deciding whether to issue certificates of appropriateness for work in historic districts and advising City Council on the historic value of buildings and neighborhoods. Local historic districts have both positive and negative attributes that must be carefully considered when creating a new district. They have value in protecting the fabric of a community, but can also constrict infill development of additional housing that can add to the supply, ease demand and help reduce gentrification.

I supported creating a new district around the Golden Belt facility, where the district was thoughtfully drawn and—to my knowledge—every home owner in the district supported its creation. Council is now considering the expansion of the Cleveland- Holloway district. When I joined the council in early 2013 some of the first people to seek me out were residents there who opposed the district’s creation. Today, in stark contrast to the Golden Belt District, the HPC is advising Council to carefully consider the neighborhood opposition. The Planning Commission refused to recommend approval. A minority of home owners actively support the creation of the district. We will take all of this into account, as well as any testimony offered in the public hearing, before making a final decision on whether this particular district has enough merit to warrant its creation.

  1. What role do you think preservation should play in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods?

Homes in local historic districts must obtain a certificate of appropriateness before proceeding with renovations to ensure that the historic elements of the home and community are preserved. It’s a good system that we need to retain. However, it’s a changing world, and we must look beyond simply preserving the past, to integrating it with the present. This might mean that some infill development, in a historic community, might look different, be smaller, be more affordable, than the historic properties.

  1. How do you propose supporting existing long-term homeowners in Durham County, particularly elderly citizens with significant deferred maintenance needs?

As property values skyrocket, long-term homeowners are facing financial pressure both from rising property taxes and the need to perform critical maintenance (leaking roofs, deteriorating foundations, etc.) We must move to create a neighborhood stabilization fund for homeowners who are low income facing these challenges. We took a step towards this goal with our short term tax assistance for Southside low income homeowners; we need to expand it to other areas and make it available for critical repairs.