Wake County

Raleigh council gives Glenwood-Brooklyn historic designation

mhankerson@newsobserver.com

The Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood north of downtown now has extra protections against teardowns and new development.

The Raleigh City Council voted Tuesday to rezone the neighborhood, making it the city’s first streetside historic overlay district.

The change means homeowners or developers may have to seek city approval before making changes to the home or the front yard – the parts seen from the street, said Tania Tully, a city planner.

Property owners could be forced to undergo a yearlong review process before demolishing and rebuilding a home, and new structures must be “compatible” with surrounding buildings, Tully said.

Some Glenwood-Brooklyn residents began pushing in 2014 for the city to make the neighborhood a historic overlay district in an effort to curb new development they felt didn’t fit in.

General historic overlay designations put restrictions on changes to the entire structure, not just the parts visible from the street. Six Raleigh neighborhoods are general historic overlay districts.

“Raleigh is growing, housing demand is high and these properties are desirable because of their location,” said Bob Fesmire, acting president of the Historic Glenwood-Brooklyn Neighborhood Association.

With a streetside historic designation in place, Fesmire said he hopes future generations will be able to walk through the neighborhood and get a sense of what it was like to live in Raleigh many years ago.

“We should not be thinking in terms of the next 10 or even 20 years, we should be thinking about the next 100,” Fesmire told the council Tuesday.

Glenwood-Brooklyn sits on about 80 acres between Peace Street and Wade Avenue and began as a street-car suburb in the early 1900s. The whites-only neighborhood had mostly small homes, but a few wealthier residents built bigger homes.

In the 1980s, some of those larger homes were converted into apartment buildings. Recently, the neighborhood had been seeing more homes being torn down and replaced with larger ones.

Although some of the neighborhood has changed, much of the historic character and structures remain, according to a report by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission.

Fesmire said the neighborhood association polled all 277 properties, and 62 percent favored the historic designation.

Applause was heard in the council chambers after the council voted 6-2 in favor of the change. Council members Mary-Ann Baldwin and Dickie Thompson voted against it.

Some residents weren’t happy with the outcome.

Adam Downing operates his business, Tryon Solutions, at 708 St. Mary’s St. He didn’t want the council to include commercial properties in the new designation.

A plan to exclude eight properties on St. Mary’s Street, one of Brooklyn Street and one on Peace Street failed to win enough council support.

Under historic-district rules, new construction must be congruent with the existing one- or two-story buildings. Until now, Downing said, his property was zoned to accommodate a three-story building.

Downing said he and several property owners near him on St. Mary’s Street don’t feel part of the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood.

“We’re disappointed that we’ve been brought into it,” he said.

He doesn’t plan on moving or selling his building any time soon, but if or when he does, he worries buyers won’t bite.

“It reduces the value of the property,” Downing said. “It is now a commercial property that has a lot of restrictions on it.”

Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi

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