More news on the Kings' Daughters home bed-and-breakfast conversion proposed for Buchanan Ave., at the edge of Trinity Park just off Duke's East Campus:
According to local realtor Joan Austin, the property has sat on the market for about a year, thanks to my mind to three strong restrictions the society that owns the former old-age home has placed on the use of the property: the facility cannot be torn down, aesthetic changes visible from the street cannot be made, and the building can never be used as undergraduate housing.
Most of the interest in the property according to Austin came in the form of re-use as condominiums (no surprise there), though that would require significant zoning changes -- more significant at least than what's required for a B&B, which is a use generally felt to be more compatible by its very nature with neighborhood integrity.
The property is only recently under contract, as noted last week; local architect Scott Harmon of Center Studio Architecture (and friend of the blog) is tapped to figure out how to adapt the beautiful old facility into a B&B, with landscape architect and Gregson St. resident Rob Emerson working on the site plan. The plan is to perform a historically-appropriate renovation (preserving and allowing use of tax credits for such work) to bring 17 rooms to the facility.
The basement is proposed to remain in its current form to serve both as a community room and to provide wheelchair access (the building has an existing elevator), with the first floor preserved with its existing parlor, dining room, and other facilities. In the newer addition to the building, which on its upper floor features smaller-sized rooms with shared bathroom facilities between, the goal is to transform these spaces into two-room suites with attached bathrooms.
The Crossmans -- one a current Duke grad student, and one a former Dukie -- would live in the converted attic of the older building.
One challenge still to be solved is the matter of parking, since a 17-room B&B would require 17 parking spaces per code, whereas the old-age home doesn't have any on-site parking (not much of a necessity for its past use, as it were.) The Crossmans are negotiating with a neighbor to acquire site control of a vacant lot that could be used as parking; however, the contract on the facility is contingent upon the parking question being resolved. The hope on the Crossman's part is that the parking would be access via the alleyway entrance off Buchanan, minimizing local traffic impact.
Although B&Bs are usually allowed in residential areas, a minor special use permit may be needed, in which case the project might need to come before the City Council for approval.
Personally, I'm pulling for this project to succeed. The location is great, allowing visitors to the Duke campus to stay in walking distance from East Campus and Duke's bus system, while providing great accommodations for out-of-towners looking for a more personal experience than they'd get at the downtown Marriott -- or the new extended stay facility going in around the corner.