Local News

Property owners stand in way of Durham demolition

Posted September 10, 2009
Updated November 2, 2009

— The owners of five rental properties on Boone Street east of downtown faced off Thursday morning against city crews intent on demolishing the buildings.

City officials say the residences don't meet building codes, and a court order requiring Haskell Properties to upgrade the units expired Aug. 6. Officials said the family that owns Haskell Properties has had years to bring them up to code and has already had repeated extensions.

Durham demolition Durham: Rental properties don't meet building codes

Jameson White, whose father operates Haskell Properties, said the family had a verbal agreement with the city to hold off on the demolition, but officials denied that.

"It's not right at the end of the day because, at the end of the day, we had deals and agreements that they went back on," White said. "It's all about a power thing down there. (Officials would) give me a chance to fix it up (and then) call back two hours later and take it away. Next day, (they would) do the same thing and take it away."

Constance Stancil, director of Durham's Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services, said nearby residents have complained the houses are a haven for drug dealers and vagrants.

The city halted Thursday's planned demolition after the owners said they had obtained a temporary restraining order to stop it. Stancil said, however, that the city would likely carry out plans to raze the residences next week.

White and his sister, Tiffany Corbitt, said they've spent $15,000 adding new siding and windows, and they were starting to work on the inside of the properties.

The family had workers removing windows, doors and siding from the buildings Thursday morning in preparation for the demolition.

"We've done everything (that officials have) asked. It might not have been in the time that (they) asked for it, but it's been done," Corbitt said. "I just don't think it's right. This is my family's livelihood. I just don't think it's right at all."

Robert Perry, an attorney representing the family, said he plans to sit down with city officials to work out the situation and prevent any demolition. He said a sister of White and Corbitt wired $40,000 from her home in Arizona, and the family has hired a contractor to handle the needed repairs.


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  • Tired of thoughtlessness Nov 2, 2009

    I know Tiffany Corbitt and she is lying. She is no relation to this family at all.

  • LEOsprtr Sep 10, 2009

    This is exactly what is wrong with Durham right now. Our city officials do not have the courage to do what is right, which in this case is to tear down these buildings; they had a court order to do so. This is why there is so much crime, run-down housing, and slumlord activity in these neighborhoods.

  • clickclackity2 Sep 10, 2009

    Those apartments should have been torn down years ago, when the economy was good. As old as the buildings are it's no excuse for them to be in disrepair. I'm sure they got their rent every month from Section 8 or some other means...maybe drug dealer money. Poor excuses for land lords. Tearing them down is one step closer to helping Durham, especially that area.

  • Adelinthe Sep 10, 2009

    One can make money in rental properties IF those properties aren't in the slums.

    You rent to those who have little to begin with, don't expect THEM to keep YOUR property in good repair.

    God bless.


  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 10, 2009

    Durham has instituted a new level of enforcement to rid us of slum lords who keep dilapidated, trashy or unsafe buildings...like these. Be warned, slum lords!

    For instance, landlords are no longer allowed to "patch" drywall holes with anything except drywall repair products...not newpaper, duct tape, masking tape, etc. And, they can no longer leave junk cars, broken appliances and other junk to rust away in the yard. Yay!

  • R_U_breakdance fighting Sep 10, 2009

    These folks are making an effort in this bad economy to bring the buildings up to code. Instead, the city rather waste tax-payer money with these attempts of demolition??

    The story said that the city gave them an oppertunity to remove the "NEW WINDOWS AND NEW SIDING" that the owners put up. Duh-huh. How do you give them a continuance order, see the changes and then try to demolish anyway???

  • hott4rotts Sep 10, 2009

    Just some insite from the other side of these fence....I have owned property in the same area (I have since sold out). I would bring my property up to code about every 6 mos, only to see something else distroyed that needed to be replaced or repaired. The only piece of rental property I have now is commercial, but the problems are mostly the same....rent payments are few and far between, I repaired light fixtures and put on a new roof just last month to the tune of 5K...got a rent check today...for 35 bucks.....I think she is in arears for over 2K ....I can't wait for the day I sell that property. To anyone who thinks they are going to make a living dealing in rental property.....run the other way...glad I don't depend on it for my livelyhood.

  • Gnathostomata Sep 10, 2009

    I don't know which is worse, government telling you what is code and what isn't, or landlords who don't care what happens on the property as long as they get paid at the beginning of the month. It isn't as if the government can tell you one day and tear down the next; NC laws are on the books but the wheels grind slowly when you have a firetrap next door or across the street. Guess the owners needed to put some of the rental fees back into the building earlier than yesterday. And if it isn't in writing, it won't hold up in court. Get names, dates, signatures!

  • miketroll3572 Sep 10, 2009

    The whites explanation is pathetic, especially the groveling to the wral reporter. Follow the rules and things are pretty smooth...........

  • uncw05 Sep 10, 2009

    The government is doing them a favor. The housing codes are for safety, and if they aren't keeping the houses up to code, it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt and sues the pants off of them. And with all the official records that they have been told they are not up to code, any judge or jury would find them liable for injuries on their property.