by Lisa Sorg
For years, I despised this building, and took the architect's name in vain. The front is adorned with toothlike gold and white columns that threaten to bite anyone who walks beneath them. And is that a silo on the side of the building? But, over time, I warmed to the Mutual Community Savings Bank, with its desiccated fountain that doubled as a garbage can. It had possibility.
Now, the old bank at 315 E. Chapel Hill St. is being transformed into Hotel Durham, a swanky 54-room boutique hotel equipped with a restaurant rooftop bar. It's scheduled to open next year. Recently, the letters were removed from the back of the building.
I've been thinking a lot about the friction points in Durham: The places where new collides with the old, wealth abuts poverty, promise brushes against adversity. This block of Chapel Hill Street is one of these places: Next door to the future hotel is the old Bargain Furniture/Organic Transit building, where homeless people sleep in the alcove at night. One evening, I saw two men sleeping there, and on a recent morning, I noticed they had made their beds and headed out for the day.