The latest buzzword in Durham residential development is the “teardown”. Emigres from Massachusetts and New Jersey are already familiar with this word and its nefarious impact on communities. Heck, it is probably part of why they decamped for Durham.
The teardown implies buying a house for the express purpose of tearing it down and rebuilding on the same lot.
It is a strategy employed by the wealthy to purchase undesirable structures, particular old, small, and/or rundown homes, demolish them and replace them with new construction. Rarely is consideration given to how well the new construction might mesh with the existing homes in the neighborhood.
I ran into one such example just the other day in the Durham DIY district; around the corner from Fullsteam Brewery and The Accordion. A small house was being demolished on Hargrove Street.
I spoke to the foreman on-site. He told us that this teardown would take less than an afternoon. He added that his company had two more teardowns scheduled that same day on Geer Street. They had already torn a house down on Glendale that day.
Four Durham teardown in forty-eight hours.
The foreman said the ranch they were tearing down was going to be replaced with a three-story home.
This is another integral part of the game plan -as practiced in the Northeast- if the teardown lot is too small for all the house you want to own, build vertically.
Neighborhood resident Eli McDuffee said, “It’s sad. I cannot welcome this approach to development, probably because it doesn’t feel welcoming… It’s out of touch.”
The three-story house going up on Hargrove will tower over the ranch homes that comprise the rest of the block. According to the foreman on-site, there will a rooftop patio deck on the property overlooking the neighborhood. With a first floor garage underneath a tall narrow structure, it will be as if someone took a Wrightsville Beach design and slapped it down in an old Durham neighborhood.
This kind of development chicanery was what prompted Old West Durham to pass a neighborhood protective overlay.
Don’t want for the Planning Commission to save you. Act now.
Or enjoy the North Jersey style development.
The foreman’s last words, “If you know anyone else looking to sell an old house…”
*Author’s Note: Yes, there are some hyperbolic over-claims herein rooted in fear, steeped in my past: gradually watching all of the woods near where I grew up torn down and re-purposed as beautifully Orwellian subdivisions.