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May 19, 2011

Comments

Sean Sondej

I agree that seeing businesses flounder is not in the best interest of Durham, but I think that the bad press for Greenfire around the Liberty Warehouse is well due. What the warehouse roof collapse has demonstrated is that though a locally-born company, their sense of community has wandered.

I can see that Greenfire may have overextended themselves in purchasing properties such that they didn't have as much funds for maintenance. But as I was talking with some of the Liberty business owners, they described that as they were being evicted at the beginning of the week, the Greenfire representatives stood across the street and watched as the owners and employees carried things out of their building.

To me, this is as shameful as deferring maintenance and is the cause of the reaction seen across my blog, the newspapers, and in the neighborhood listserves. There is a growing sense that Greenfire is not as concerned with the Durham community as they once were, and compounding that is their PR efforts are at best misguided.

The Liberty Warehouse was symbolic before as the last tobacco auction house, but it has also come to represent something else in the eyes of Durhamites: development gone wrong.

And, potentially the most unfortunate thing in all of this is how the businesses that occupy Liberty Warehouse are not being talked about (with the exception of The Scrap Exchange). They were left without a place of business, no alternatives offered, no leasing/rental help from their current landlord. I pray that they find new homes soon so that they are not further impacted.

The Liberty Warehouse community is coming together tonight, for Third Friday, next to the Liberty Warehouse Pavilion across from the Farmer's market. Stop by between 6-9pm and show your support. They, and Durham, need it.

Down with developers

Greenfire needs to be held accountable for what happened to the Liberty Warehouse as they knew about the buildings deficiencies and barely did anything to fix it. Seems to me that they had other plans for this building other than saving it. Now they potentially are going to be asking Durham for more money/tax incentives for the Sun Trust building. Unbelievable!! Wake up Durham and demand answers!

idigdurham

I know I am out of the loop and didn't realize that there is to be a Diamond View III. I love the view of Downtown Durham from inside the ball park and feel it gives such a sense of place. It will be a shame when that is gone.

Visconti

I would help the artists and nonprofits from Liberty Warehouse find affordable spaces elsewhere. That warehouse is one of the ugliest buildings in the Central Park area. It should be remodeled or redeveloped as residential space: condos, townhomes, brownstones, whatever.

Downtown Durham still lacks residential space and Liberty Warehouse is a very large, ideally located space. There are too many blocks downtown that become ghost towns after 5:00 pm when office and service workers and artists go home.

 not getting it done.

there should be no incentives granted to an organization that is negligent with their buildings and turns it back on its tenants, who live in the same town as the owners do.

In addition to being unable/unwilling? to walk the walk and not just talk the talk ... Greenfire has been morally deplorable.

seems like it time to stop giving them slack and the benefit of the doubt --a nd start expecting them to act responsibly and honestly.

When was the last time Greenfire made public comments about situations and plans -- other than quotes to the newspaper that are obvious lies or blasts of hot air/meaningless promises

jonn

Doesn't Greenfire also own that building downtown with no roof that is in shambles? It's definitely a common theme that they can't take care of or rehab the buildings they buy.

While the rogers alley development is a success with Dos Perros and Bull city Burger..there are still 2 prominent empty spaces.

Guess this means that green space downtown will be there for a while longer.

Good to hear about the ATC expansion as well...nice to have you back BCR.

It's just a lil leak?

"Before Lemanski, Webb and the team can worry about competition, though, there's still that leaky roof to patch."

which leak?... the building with no roof for years on end on Parrish, the Rogers Alley building where Preservation Durham got rained on and had to head on down the road, or the Liberty Warehouse, or...?

This article's conclusion, and kid gloves approach to article, seems to trivialize the situation at both Liberty Warehouse specifically, and in a broader sense with Greenfire's mismanagement of many buildings.

Sean up above hits on a key point when he says "And, potentially the most unfortunate thing in all of this is how the businesses that occupy Liberty Warehouse are not being talked about (with the exception of The Scrap Exchange)."

Greenfire is spending a helluva lot more time painting an unrealistically bright picture to the media (who often seem to buy it instead of digging deeper into the situation) and they are neglecting buildings and its tenants along the way.

Bull City Rising

@Jonn -- Thanks (tho with Mom in the shape she is in, likely to still be hit-and-miss here for a bit). And worth noting that the H-S is reporting that one of the folks behind Crooks Corner are looking to open a cocktail bar/wine bar kind of concept in 200 N Mangum near Dos Perros; not sure if thats the old HSPD space, or the space where Eno publicized their opening before they decided not to open there after all.

JRH

Greenfire's plan from the beginning seems to have been to buy up so much property in Downtown Durham that they could then blackmail the city into giving them incentive after incentive, lest they fail.

They failed anyway.

For every Greenfire owned building that has been renovated in Downtown in recent years there have been 4 or 5 non-Greenfire buildings renovated. At this point they are standing in the way of progress, not fostering it.

BigAl

I try an avoid thinking about DV III. The prospect of losing a great open space and the view from the ballpark is...ugh, there I go ,thinking about it again.

clif

too bad the Durham Central Market didn't work out a deal with Greenfire about using that space. a million bucks can fill a pretty big hole in a roof.

John Davis

What Greenfire does with a building he ownes is his own buisness. Why don't the people complain buy the building and fix it up.

As far as DV III Mr. Goodman should be able to build whatever he wants on property he ownes. After all he owns the ball park so he is not going to build an eyesore.

Jeremy

Do all of you hyper-critical (yet opaquely anonymous) posters truly believe that Durham would have been better off had Greenfire not begun its campaign of buying up vacant, dilapidated buildings downtown over 7 years ago? Yes, their strategy of amassing properties before investment is risky, but well-founded. I would also argue that theirs was a leadership position that fostered demand from other developers to do the same.

They bought many broken buildings and yes, some of them remain broken. But many others have been completely transformed and are now occupied by thriving businesses or happy downtown dwellers.

Diane Wright

I could be wrong, but I don't think Mr. Goodman owns the ball park - we, the citizens of Durham do. Mr. Goodman owns the Durham Bulls.

Opaquely Anonymous Asshole

@Jeremy-
I don't know if having one developer sit on a million square feet of real estate downtown is really a good thing for Durham. Especially when that company has been teetering on the verge of bankruptcy for two years.

Yeah, of that one million square feet Greenfire owns, they've rehabbed about 50,000 of it (I believe you referred to this 5% as "many others"). Here's to hoping they get around to the other 95% of property they own before they go bankrupt. Would Durham be better off when one less developer? Probably not. But no one can argue that Durham will be well off if Greenfire kicks the bucket.

Don't get me wrong, I want Greenfire to succeed. If they don't, then downtown's going to be crippled for an extra decade as the 40+ investors in the company figure out who owns what. Watching the company struggle to start renovations on the SunTrust building has me more than concerned. And seeing Greenfire unable to do simple maintenance on the Liberty Warehouse can't be comforting to anyone in our city and county governments.

@Diane-
You're correct. The city owns the ballpark, and leases it to the Bulls.

gonzo

whether greenfire's folks are nothing but mindless jerks, i dont know. i do know that business plans which looked conservative and cautious four years ago have suddenly become untenable in this lending environment. every developer in the country is struggling with this, some better than others. i do wish greenfire would respond by unloading some of their properties instead of clinging to them while they rot. theres a rumor going round that walker stone offered to buy the warehouse back from them last year. if thats true, i sure wish theyd taken him up on it. stone knew how to manage that place. of course the accuracy of that rumor is worth the paper this comment isnt printed on.

Khalid

@OAA - Equity investors are the last ones to get paid in a bankruptcy and usually get nothing. That is one reason that they require a higher rate of return for the risk involved. If most of Greenfire's undeveloped properties are unlevered or have little debt then the threat is greater that the investors start demanding the return of their money. A typical investment fund lasts 7-10 years. Since Greenfire is not overly transparent (which is common with private investments) in this regard I'm not sure if they have one fund or a separate fund for each property.

As far as transparency is concerned, I'm not sure if it would do them any good because there will still be a more vocal segment that will denounce ANYTHING that they attempt to do. It is hard to form partnerhips in the community in that type of environment. They say that your family is your harshest critic but at the end of the day but at least they still have love for you.

I hope Greenfire gets it together. Its hard to balance things like below market rent for non-profits and maintaining a failing old property that has had little maintenance for dozen's of years. You can only patch so much.

I'm still trying to figure out what a $50M renovation of a 200k sq ft warehouse gets you. It wouldn't take that much to return it to its former state...not sure if that would give you a marketable property in the 21st century...maybe a publicly-funded museum not any type of mixed-used adaptive reuse.

I may not agree with all of Greenfire's methods or strategies but I still wish for their success as well as the non-profits that will probably relocate at some point. The next 5-10 years should be exciting for downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods as long as the wheels don't fall off the Commercial RE lending environment.

Myers Sugg

Like with residential real estate, particularly rental property....if you can't afford to invest in/maintain, the property, you need to find someone else who can. Leaving properties derelict does no good for anyone. Sure, one should be given a reasonable amount of time to make things better. Unfortunately with property in this kind of condition, the possibility of a tear down looms. I absolutely don't advocate for that. It's just that it seems this road is paved with good intentions. At some point those intentions need to be re-evaluated......

AR

Does anyone know why there is a fence around the 'pocket park'(aka Green Wall Park) at the corner of Main and Corcoran?

upvc windows

I support expansion, but I'm a bit worried about tobacco industry expanding. It implies an increasing number of smokers.

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