As the clock ticked toward midnight in Raleigh’s city council chambers last Tuesday evening, residents of the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhoodone of downtown’s three original suburbswere in a celebratory mood.
The city council had just voted 6–2 in favor of applying a Streetside Historic Overlay District to the seventy-seven-acre neighborhood. Residents had been working on getting protections for Glenwood-Brooklyn since the citywide remapping process began, and this piece alone took more than a year to come together.
Now, changes to the historic properties in Glenwood-Brooklyn have to measure up to standards set by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. More important, property owners have to wait 365 days before they can tear down buildings in the historic district, a tool the city has used to delay demolitions and prevent developers from flipping historic properties.
Not everyone was happy with the designation, however. Owners of twenty properties on Peace and St. Mary’s streetseighteen of which are considered historicargued that they shouldn’t be included. They worried that the historic designation and accompanying restrictions would diminish their property values.
The council split along its usual “pro-neighborhood” and “pro-development” lines, with council members Mary-Ann Baldwin, Bonner Gaylord, and Dickie Thompson voting against including those property owners in the historic boundaries.
“The real value of a historic district is not fully realized until we are all dead and gone,” says Bob Fesmire, president of the Glenwood-Brooklyn Neighborhood Association. “Fifty years from now it will be great if people walk around Glenwood-Brooklyn and get a sense of what it’s like to live there in this time, or even in the early part of the twentieth century. That is not possible without historic preservation.”