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Historic Greensboro homes being demolished for new urban development

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A Greensboro neighborhood is losing its history. Homes lining Cedar Street are being turned into a new development.

FOX8 spoke with Roger Coble, from West Market Realty, about the development. They're working with a developer on the project. They said: "Some of the properties had been damaged and condemned. Repairing them would not have been cost effective due to their condition. The new owner intends to turn a negative into a positive by providing an upscale walkable urban project, which supports the city's vision of downtown development."

Cedar Street is known for being home to a number of artists and musicians. If you look around the neighborhood, you'll notice a creative touch on many of the homes. It's also a place where many people live for an affordable home near downtown. Many of the homes are owned by investors and are rented out to tenants.

Beyond the quirks in this downtown neighborhood, there's also a lot of history.

"Most of the houses in this neighborhood are about 100 to 120 years old," Preservation Greensboro Executive Director Benjamin Briggs said.

A number of these historic homes are on the way down.

"I was driving through the neighborhood one day last week and I noticed one of the houses was being bulldozed," Briggs said.

It was also a surprise to the people who live in these homes, like Casey Williamson.

"They're wrecking history and they're wrecking a community and it's really sad," she said.

A developer is coming in to build what they're calling an upscale walkable urban project. It's not clear what exactly that will be. Even though the developer said this area needs some help, some neighbors are not happy with the changes.

"The fact that they're taking away my community. The fact that they're taking away the history. The fact that so many people are being displaced from their homes for no reason other than progression," Williamson said.

While it may be too late for some of these homes, Briggs says they can still try to save others on Cedar Street and in other Greensboro neighborhoods.

"Let's use this as a learning opportunity to go ahead and plan for the future. It might be Cedar Street today, but it might be your neighborhood tomorrow," he said.

He said Cedar Street actually had a meeting with Preservation Greensboro in 2005. In that meeting, the community agreed these homes should be preserved because their historic charm added to the neighborhood. The meeting was more of a guide though, and it didn't have any restrictions put into place to stop any demolition. That means the city could not stop a demolition permit.

The only way to stop these kind of changes is if the homes have a historic design permit. That will help make sure there are no major changes without a review of them, or at least a cooling off period. It's also possible for people to get historic tax credits on the federal and state level. Those tax credits can add major savings for renovations on these historic homes.