Monday, May 27, 2013

Take a Lesson from Durham on Moving Forward Through the Power of Compromise

Last week, Preservation Durham, The Durham City Council, Greenfire Development, and East-West Partners came to a mutually agreeable determination for the future of the Liberty Warehouse. In a day and age where lack of compromise has resulted in stagnation, I wish to commend all parties on working together to achieve what is a win/win for Durham, Preservationists, and the blossoming Central Park District.

I am a devoted Preservationist who has processed dozens of the Secretary of Interior’s applications and produced projects recognized with Capital Area Preservation’s Anthemion Award and Preservation Durham’s Pyne Award. I am an enthusiastic modernist who believes we should not build replicas of 200-year-old structures with modern technology that begs to be used in new and different ways (potentially of its own historic significance in 200 years). I am an environmentalist that believes in the use of regionally appropriate design and materials to best prepare a building for a long and healthy lifespan. I am a Durham Resident and Building Owner in Durham Central Park. I firmly believe that “old” does not define “contributing historic significance” and think they often get confused. I believe that bringing together smart and experienced individuals on a case-by-case basis yields far better results than blanket statements of what is allowed and disallowed.

That’s the interesting dilemma of Liberty Warehouse. There’s more significance to its former use and interior structure than to its exterior appeal and interaction with the adjacent properties. Without compromise, it would likely have sat stagnant, financially prohibitive from development. With the stipulations as laid out among the participants (see, it is possible that we can have the best of all worlds. With thoughtful design and execution, it is possible to integrate the greatest strengths of its history with the greatest strengths of our blossoming Durham. If East-West Partners see these parameters as guidelines to excellence and not hindrances to be worked around, that should be the case. Let’s keep an eye on the progress to help make it so.

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