Local News

Property owners stand in way of Durham demolition

Posted September 10, 2009 12:20 p.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2009 3:00 p.m. EST

— 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.

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.