Sunday, March 9, 2008

Oberlin Village

The News & Observer published a focus on re-development activities in Oberlin Village in today's paper.

Most of Oberlin's early settlers came in the 1860s, with the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War. Hundreds of former slaves bought modest tracts cut from farmland.

The village thrived. Residents planted gardens and reveled in one another's company. Chickens scratched around dirt streets. Watchful mothers fussed at any child making mischief in their sight. Residents named the neighborhood Oberlin, after the college in Ohio that was the first to regularly admit black students.

When newcomers started to arrive, about a decade ago, many of them moved into the modest bungalows lining Van Dyke and Bedford avenues. They passed up larger homes in the suburbs for a neighborhood flanked by N.C. State University, Wade Avenue and Cameron Village. They planted landscaping, painted the bedrooms and installed new cabinets.

Century-old Oberlin Village homes now fetch well over $200,000. But for the newest buyers -- developers -- the homes are the least attractive part of the purchase. Termites have eaten some; others sag with neglect.

It's the land they want. As buildable lots inside the Beltline disappear, developers are making their own, knocking down modest homes to make room for 3,000-square-foot bungalows with hardwood floors and custom cabinets.

This is such a dilemma. As our city loses the valuable history that makes Raleigh who she is today, do we have the collective will make real planning decisions, or are market forces the final answer?

As the streamlined NCOD hits the streets, we will find out whether a neighborhood under re-development can protect itself. Note that the NCOD only covers building, preservation is only available through Historic Overlays. And that gets difficult the more a neighborhood loses of its original character.

1 comment:

Jedidiah said...

I live just behind that white house in a small 950 sq. foot bungalow but in the distance you can see the massive three story structure that is starting to take over Parker Street.