RIP Harvey Davis…

And who is Harvey Davis, you might ask? Just a hard-working guy standing in the way of fantasies on the part of city planners and politicians about how people should travel instead how they actually travel*

I wrote about Davis’ battle with the City of Winston-Salem back in 2011. His business–Davis Garage– was located in the city’s former Union Station rail depot. City leaders wanted the building to become a modern-day “transportation hub,” complete with complimentary mixed-use development. But–you guessed it—in order for that to happen, Davis Garage would have go elsewhere—so the city filed for eminent domain. Turns out Davis did have somewhere else to go. However, as I wrote in 2011:

Complicating matters is Davis’ battle with the city on another front. He owns a separate parcel of property on the corner of Jonestown and Stratford roads where he wants to relocate the garage, but the city planning board voted down his rezoning request.

While nearby residents protested the location of the garage, city staff also made its case based on long-range planning for the area, which calls for moderate-density residential development.

Davis said he can’t understand the city’s motivations in denying the rezoning, with other commercial development nearby. “I don’t know what their issues are, other than they just don’t want me there,” he said.

So basically the city wanted to kick him off his existing property and then make it difficult for him to develop his other property. Eventually the city paid Davis $1.35 million for the Union Station building, and he relocated his business. But his business suffered. In the meantime the old rail depot was renovated and will have its grand opening next month. Davis won’t be around to see it–he died last week at the age of 82. Winston-Salem Journal columnist Scott Sexton pays tribute:

Union Station will be something of which the city should be proud. It’s a big honking deal.

But progress always comes with a price. Sometimes it involves disruption and upheaval.

It’s ironic — and sad — that the formal rebirth of Union Station comes so close to the death of Harvey Davis. He was a gentle man firm in his convictions and in his faith.

“Dad was really comfortable where he was at,” Chris Davis said Monday about his father’s passing. “The last thing he said to me was ‘Tell the Lord I’m coming.’ … He was ready.”

Rest in peace, Harvey Davis.

*Antiplanner’s famous words.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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