Raleigh, N.C. — After spending a quarter million dollars to renovate a historic building with foundations in local black history and business, a downtown Raleigh business owner now has to pay for costly repairs after recent riots. Insurance, she said, won't cover the damage to this historic structure.
515 S Blount Street is in the Historic Prince Hall District, right across Shaw University, the oldest historically black university in the southeast. Back in the 1950's, Blount Street was predominantly filled with black-owned businesses.
Over the years, this particular building has been a laundromat, an engraving shop and a photography studio.
Now, it’s a public relations agency, co-owned by Valerie Fields, who chose this historic building to show the history of black ownership on this block can continue. Today, it's a black-owned, woman-owned business named PR Pros.
After spending a quarter of a million dollars in renovations to build her business in 2019, Fields said she is angry, frustrated, sad--and also empathetic for the cause.
“When I got here and saw the damage that was done to the building I thought about how much time and effort we put into bringing it back," she said. "And in just a moments time- the destruction that was done."
“I’m married to a black man. I have five nephews, two step-sons, a godson and a grandson. The significance of equal treatment in our society for black men is really important to me," she said.
Having to deal with yet another renovation is a strain on her business, she said. However, she believes the instances of the past week have brought attention to a much-needed conversation.
"I think it’s time for some of us who maybe have been on the sidelines--it’s time to come to the forefront and be more intentional about speaking out," she said.
Insurance will not cover the damage that was done to the glass. It’ll take a few thousand dollars and about a week to get everything repaired.