A very interesting article in today's N&O business section by real estate writer Jack Hagel with help from Jim Wise: the old Jack Tar Motel now owned by landlord-of-dubious-repute Ronnie Sturdivant and featuring the groanworthy "We Want Oprah" sign, narrowly escaped the jaws of foreclosure thanks to a bailout from an interesting source--
A $150,000 loan from Hank Scherich, president of Measurement Inc. and re-developer of many properties throughout the old Durham Athletic Park district. Depending on how you look at it, the Oprah building will either be floating along for a while longer with Sturdivant's hand on the wheel (probably not a great thing for downtown), or is one step closer to eventually falling into the hands of a new local owner, in this case Scherich... which would not be a bad piece of news at all.
Hagel and Wise cover the topic well so I'll refer you to their piece to get the full story. It's interesting that Sturdivant wants the building, if redeveloped, to become part of the resurrection of Parrish Street, known in the early 20th century as America's black Wall Street and one-time home to M&F Bank, NC Mutual Life, and other earlier pioneers of African-American financial institutions.
Personally, I find it depressing to mentally juxtapose Parrish Street's incredible history with the current lack of acumen of the current site owners, whose other building (the Urban Opportunity Center on W. Chapel Hill St.) focuses on a far less grandiose financial institution -- the "Campaign for Wealth" website (www.1hope.ws), which looks on its face to be nothing more than a multi-level marketing program.
Greenfire Development has promised a museum on the history of Parrish Street as part of a skyscraper they hope to build on the site they control at Parrish/Corcoran/Main, across from the Oprah building. As Hagel and Wise point out, they'd love to have the old Jack Tar Motel too, which when partnered with the Hill Building they're redeveloping into a boutique hotel would give them the ability to some interesting things in that part of town.
But whether they end up with the property, or Scherich, or someone else -- the right way to honor the memory of the real entrepreneurs who built Parrish Street will come not simply from a museum to the past, but in transforming an eyesore that weighs on the Durham community into something that the entire community can be proud of.