Published: Jun 08, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Jun 06, 2011 09:56 PM
The City-County Planning Department is investigating "demolition by neglect" in the case of Liberty Warehouse.
Liberty Warehouse, between Rigsbee Avenue and Foster Street at Durham Central Park, has been condemned since a section of its roof collapsed in May. Greenfire Development owns the former tobacco auction house and rented space there to about 35 tenants, some of which are still looking for new quarters.
Condemnation has also rendered useless the city-owned Hill Pavilion for the Arts, a metal-casting facility that adjoins the Liberty Arts sculpture studio inside the warehouse.
Meanwhile, the city's Neighborhood Improvement Services has received complaints about leaking roofs at three other Greenfire properties. Housing Code Administrator Rick Hester said Monday that the city received is investigating conditions at 609, 619, and 621Foster St., buildings that back up to the outfield at Durham Athletic Park.
"Demolition by neglect," a violation under Durham's Unified Development Ordinance, means allowing a building to deteriorate by neglecting its upkeep. The provision, according to the Durham Historic Preservation Commission, is intended to prevent the loss of historic landmarks.
Dating from the 1930s, the Liberty is the last of more than a dozen tobacco auction houses that once operated in the area just north of downtown. From the early 1970s, Durham lost business to larger markets in eastern North Carolina and auctions ended in the city after the 1987 season. Other warehouses have since been demolished, but Liberty was converted to multiple uses and is a designated local historic landmark.
Durham law requires owners of historic landmarks to keep their properties in good repair. Faulty roofs, ineffective waterproofing, defective weather protection, or "deterioration that has a detrimental effect on the surrounding historic district, or on the special character of the historic landmark" are among violations listed in the UDO.
The owner of a property found to be in a state of demolition by neglect may be required to make repairs and subject to civil penalties.
Public comment will be heard at a meeting on June 16 at City Hall. The Liberty Warehouse situation is also due for discussion by the city-county Historic Preservation Commission at its next meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
A determination in the demolition-by-neglect matter will be made by June 30.Correspondent Virginia Bridges contributed to this report.