New Leadership and Justice for Rocky Mount Is At Hand – Thanks to Investors with Vision, The Reimagining and Revitalization of Main Street Is Picking Up

Let us look to New Orleans for preservation inspiration with this trio of mid-19th-century buildings that sat vacant for decades. Even in their key location, the buildings suffered the indignities of leaking roofs, rotting floors, and termites. This situation sounds familiar to us on Main Street.

**Constructed in 1858 during the city’s booming antebellum years, this visually united row of three four-story masonry stores stood for decades as dismal reminders of the bad things that happened to downtowns in the 1960s. Neglected, unused and failing structurally, the buildings overlooked a vast parking lot. Taking advantage of the economic benefits of federal historic rehabilitation tax credits and the Preservation Resource Center’s façade easement program, the developers crafted a successful mixed-use development of 16 spacious apartments and three ground-floor commercial spaces. The new development is called 419 Carondelet. (This same concept is being developed here.)

The same successful preservation and repurposing of buildings can be ours. We thank the investors who have embraced the promise of Rocky Mount and will not be deterred. Read about: A hallelujah chorus of bright, young entrepreneurs that have come home.  We have a newly energized, emboldened citizenry that will be voting this fall and will prevail. I believe the investigation will bring justice and remove the obstacles of mismanagement and corruption that have prevailed. Our word and agreements with ECC will be restored. There will be no public housing sited on Tarboro Street.

Before long, we will have photographs of our own newly restored and repurposed buildings to brag about. Ours can be the most beautiful Main Street in North Carolina. PLUS – Our existing affordable housing will be saved, restored, and safe to live in again. I hope you will join me with an AMEN! to that.

**Information about 419 Carondelet came from the article – Honoring Top Historic Preservation Projects in New Orleans • Hillary S. Irvin, Sally Reeves, and Michael Duplantier • April 2019, Preservation in Print. I subscribe to this excellent magazine and follow their Facebook Page, an endless source of delight and research.



A successful approach to urban infill 




One thought on “New Leadership and Justice for Rocky Mount Is At Hand – Thanks to Investors with Vision, The Reimagining and Revitalization of Main Street Is Picking Up

  1. Great information Stepheny.

    When I read the article regarding the robbery at the restaurant on Washington Street in today’s’ paper–I thought–this is exactly why low-income cluster housing (AKA projects) should not be built in downtown RM.

    Before I get called a racist let me say it is not a race issue it is an income and cultural issue.
    Many, years ago as a young professional in Chicago I took the subway to a meeting with clients who were building income-sensitive housing on the South Side. I had no fear as I left the security of the stops in the Loop and headed for the southside. However, as I got up and left the subway car at the stop near my meeting an elderly African American woman took me by the arm and asked where I was headed. I explained I needed to walk a few blocks for a meeting. Fortunately, she said, “Honey you cannot do that by yourself—you do not belong here—I will walk with you there—but you make sure someone gets you back to the subway safely.”

    As we walked, we chatted and in that few short blocks, I learned that sometimes it just is not safe and that doesn’t mean it is black or white—rich or poor–it just is. The two of us continued to talk outside the building where my meeting was and I spoke briefly about the lofty goals of the income-sensitive housing project and my role–she simply smiled and said “Honey it will never work—wrong place and there is no benefit for us—it isn’t a good fit.”

    I listened to her (I HEARD her) and I walked into my meeting and said basically that it was ill-conceived, unwanted and would not work. I explained my encounter with the lovely woman from the subway and asked for a ride back to the Loop. In a few short weeks, the project was canceled. Why? After further exploring and ASKING for community input—guess what? The subway lady was right. The project was unwanted and not useful.

    Sometimes a parking lot is a parking lot—not a housing project!
    And sometimes what people need for the benefit of the community is a parking lot.


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