Why it’s important:
Initially nominated to Places in Peril in 2011, the nine parcels along the South Gregson Street corridor between the railroad overpass and West Chapel Hill Street remain a vastly underutilized land resource. Now that a new apartment complex has gone up south of Chapel Hill Street, this strip faces development pressure from both sides, especially as parking needs grow.
The most prominent building on the site is a mid-1950’s low slung modern commercial building with distinctive cantilevered canopies. Known as the Medical Arts Building, it has been vacant since the 1990s. Two older brick buildings sit up the hill, one vacant and the other an early example of mixed-use development: the primarily residential structure was designed by George Watts Carr, Sr. in 1928 for Dr. Baird N. Brooke, whose medical practice occupied one of the units in the detailed Colonial Revival building known as The Eloise.
The revitalization of this corridor will provide a vital link between West Chapel Hill Street and Brightleaf Square, and care should be taken to fill vacant lots with compatible structures, not parking areas, while retaining and renovating the existing structures.
The site presents a unique opportunity: a sound mid-century building and a substantial amount of vacant land in close proximity to Brightleaf Square, Peabody Place, West Village, and Chapel Hill Street. Preservation Durham supports a comprehensive redevelopment plan that preserves and renovates the Medical Arts Building and the other structures and adds new, appropriately-scaled mixed-use infill buildings to increase density. Investment in public infrastructure, including shade trees, improved lighting, and other streetscape improvements should be made to increase pedestrian connectivity and safety, and to spur private investment.
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