Rescue Mission Destroys Three More Historic Houses

On Tuesday, October 18, 2011, the Durham Rescue Mission destroyed three more historic houses in the Golden Belt National Register Historic District. Last week, the Rescue Mission had allowed the Durham Fire Department to conduct training exercises which involved cutting up parts of the roofs and sides of the houses. The final destruction came today.  Two of the houses were on Worth St., and one was on Franklin St.

All of these houses were already designated as contributing structures to the Golden Belt National Register Historic District when Ernie Mills bought the properties. Obviously he doesn’t care.

At various public meetings and in private conversations with Preservation Durham, Ernie Mills promised that he would let people move the houses. That didn’t happen. He didn’t even allow people to salvage the historically valuable materials in the house. It’s all just a pile of rubble now that goes to the landfill.

But one question remains: how can anyone believe his future promises when he hasn’t kept the ones he’s already made?


Cafe, Hair Salon, Insurance Agency Coming to Golden Belt!

At long last a cafe is coming to Golden Belt. The space in the very front of Building #2, looking out on the parking lot,  is now being remodeled to be a cafe serving breakfast and lunch. The cafe will also offer ice cream, yogurt, and smoothies. The name for the cafe has not yet been announced, but it should open in January, 2012.

Also opening is Moshi-Moshi, a well known Chapel Hill hair salon, which will establish its first shop in Durham, also in January, 2012.

Finally, a State Farm insurance agency will open in Golden Belt. With these three new businesses, Golden Belt will be 90% occupied, a great achievement considering the difficult economic climate.


Dogstar Tattoo Grand Opening
New Neighbors Auction Party
Open Artist Studio
Bikram Durham Benefit for Kelly Cross
6 – 9 PM

This Third Friday we are excited to welcome new neighbors to Golden Belt. Join us in Building 6 to celebrate Dogstar Tattoo’s Grand Opening in their newly built out space on the West end of Building 6. Come in for live music, wine, martinis and meet and greet the Center Studio Architecture staff from 6-9pm. In the parking lot, Fullsteam will serve a variety of their local brew while Blood Red River and Beloved Binge play into the night. Also in Building 6, Bikram Durham is putting on a special donation class at 4pm for Golden Belt artist Kelly Cross. Please join and sweat it out for a wonderful cause!

Stop by Building 3 to visit our 43 talented studio artists along with the New Neighbors Auction Party in ROOM 100 from 6-8pm. Dave Alsobrooks is auctioning off his New Neighbors paintings to benefit the Durham Art Guild and Project Red. This will be your last chance to view the New Neighbors paintings before they become part of private collections- maybe even your own! Or buy a raffle ticket and enter to win a New Neighbor. Bidding opens at 6 and closes at 7:45. Raffle tickets will be sold till 7:45.

In Building 2, LabourLove is celebrating the arrival of Dogstar Tattoo at Golden Belt with a tattoo-inspired art table set up for the entire family to enjoy! LabourLove will have washable markers available to decorate your body if you so dare and if you are feeing a little shy, there will be paper too! To learn more about LabourLove Collective Gallery artists, please view all current artist profiles here.

Foodies, don’t leave hungry! Outside, Parlez Vous Crepes, Only Burger, and The Parlor will be on hand for dinner and dessert items. All of the events are Free and open to all ages!

Storm Drain Problems in Golden Belt Neighborhood

This picture was taken Saturday, May 28, at the corner of Elm and Franklin Streets.  This was long after the rains had stopped.  Obviously, the storm drain was badly clogged because the water was not moving.  Friday, there was serious flooding on Belt St.  Cars parked along the street had their interiors flooded.  You can see pictures of the flooding here:

 The City needs to clean its  storm drains.

Here’s what the City’s website has to say:

“Does the City have a map of the drainage system?

No. The City is in the process of locating and mapping stormwater drainage systems located in the City of Durham. Fieldwork for the citywide stormwater inventory project began in June 1999 and should be completed next year. The inventory will identify and catalog stormwater drainage system components such as pipes, culverts, bridges, pipe outfalls, manholes, junction boxes, catch basins, and yard inlets. The City will use the inventory data to: produce a comprehensive map of the stormwater drainage system; develop a drainage system maintenance schedule; address localized flooding and drainage problems; develop priorities for watershed master planning; and identify priorities for future capital improvement needs.”

The City has been working on a map since 1999, and it’s still not complete!  Once they have a map, then they will “develop a drainage system maintenance schedule,”  which suggests that they don’t have one now.

So is any maintenance ever being done?  It’s time to have some answers.

UPDATE  (June 30):     Paul J. Wiebke,  Assistant Stormwater Manager for the City of Durham, responded to an inquiry by Gary Kueber of Scientific Properties.  Here’s what the city has planned:

 Short term (this summer):

 The drainage systems in this area will be evaluated (video inspection) to determine if there are failures/blockages in the existing drainage system.  We would then evaluate the system failures/blockages and pursue corrective action.

 Longer term (remainder of FY 2012):

 The drainage system will be evaluated for condition (are pipes and/or basins in need of repair/replacement) and capacity (are pipes of sufficient size and are there sufficient drains).  This will be completed in time to make budget recommendations for FY 2013 budget cycle so that changes or improvements needed can occur beginning in FY 2013.

For future updates on this project please contact Dana Hornkohl at
or at 560-4326 ext. 30246

Golden Belt Home Tour: After the Tour

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The Home Tour was a great success:  we had around 200 people come through, and the event attracted a lot of attention in the Triangle.  See Jim Wise’s story in the May 2 News and Observer:

Durham neighborhood comes ‘back to life’ – Real Estate News –

and Laura Oleniacz in the May 3 Herald Sun:

Neighborhood walk offers glimpse of restored homes and works in progress among Golden Belt’s mill houses

via golden community.

Thanks to all of the people who generously put their houses on the tour, the volunteers who helped show them, and to the businesses that helped underwrite the event:  Acanthus Construction, Bikram Yoga Durham, Labour Love Gallery,  Regulator Book Shop, Riverbank Custom Homes, Scientific Properties, Seagroves Realty and Urban Durham Realty.

Tour Property #8:  1211 Wall St.

The newest listing in the neighborhood

Update: Before and After Home Tour

This week, we’ll be previewing the properties on the Tour.  Please come back to see more!

Tour Property #7:  1102 Taylor St.

This one-story hip-roofed bungalow with a gable attic dormer appears to have been among the second wave of houses built by Golden Belt, probably in the late 1910’s when Taylor St. was added to the mill village.  A bathroom may have been original to the house since they were being added to other houses about this time, and the back bedroom may have been a later modification to the “three-room” plan. By the time Scientific Properties acquired the house, it was in desperate shape.  The foundation and part of the floor system had collapsed.  The house was jacked up and then put on new footings and foundation.  The aluminum siding and porch enclosure were removed,and simple Tuscan columns were installed on the front porch to match what was probably there originally. This simple, spacious house  with mature trees and a pleasant yard is now available for sale, with the interior renovated to suit a new owner.  Historic preservation tax credits are also available. For information about purchasing the house, contact Urban Durham Realty:

InterNeighborhood Council may Oppose Alston Avenue Widening

Here’s the story by reporter Jim Wise in the News and Observer, December 3, 2010:

Alston Avenue, a.k.a. N.C. 55, is a major corridor north-south corridor through East Durham. NCDOT considers the street congested and has plans to widen it from the Durham Freeway to Holloway Street.

But neighborhood groups and others interested in the long-depressed area’s revival see DOT’s plan as splitting their neighborhood in two.

“A four-lane highway is just a wall lying on its side,” INC President Tom Miller said at the council’s meeting this week.

Besides that, they don’t see the need.

“We can’t see the congestion,” said Golden Belt neighborhood homeowner John Martin. “We just see that this has gotten on the front burner and they’re going to go ahead with it.”

“To me, DOT’s traffic numbers are highly suspect,” said East Durham resident Chloe’ Palenchar. “They’re smoking crack to say that road is over capacity.”

Under DOT’s current plan, Martin said, Alston Avenue at Main Street would be eight lanes wide, or as wide as Fayetteville Road at Southpoint shopping mall.

DeDreana Freeman, another Golden Belt homeowner, said she has met with City Council members, and many residents turned out to speak their minds at a DOT open house in November.

“I don’t get the feeling they are hearing anything the neighborhood is saying,” she said.

“I’m very concerned about the wisdom of the Alston Avenue/55 thing,” Miller said. “One or two neighborhoods over there probably aren’t going to be able to step in front of that thing and stop it, but maybe INC could.”

Read more: