If you thought that the pairing of director David Lynch and Duke Basketball had nothing to do with Old City real estate development, you would be mistaken! This is an example of that classic tale where art films and alley oops cross paths to reinvent a historic building.

OK, we know you’re likely confused by now. But with the on-going work at 122 N. 3rd St., we can start to make some sense of all of this for you. This building was long the home to LaPelle Art Gallery, which included some early works by David Lynch when he famously lived in the Eraserhood back in the 1960s. Sadly, Rodger LaPelle passed in 2020 and the gallery has stood empty since then, save for occasional work here and there on-site. When the property changed hands, it was purchased by Duke center-turned-developer Brian Zoubek, whose Zoubek Properties has been active in the city for quite some time. Let’s hop in the way-back machine to see how things looked in the past.

My Project (2)
From the past on the left, with the future to the right
My Project (3)
An image from 50 years ago shows 122 N. 2nd St. on the far left

As we mentioned earlier, work has been on-going for quite a while at this point, though no obvious progress has been made on the exterior. That is until the other day, when scaffolding started to rise over the face of the building. Zoubek Properties is joining forces with DesignBlendz and Full Court Development to update this quintessential Old City building. You can see how things have progressed from the empty gallery to where we are today.

My Project
LaPelle's blue awning still present a few years ago, with scaffolding starting to rise a few days ago
My Project (1)
Recent scaffolding progress

Expect to see a mixed-use project with ground floor commercial. Zoning permits indicate a 10-unit building, though a recent Instagram post states there will be 13 units. While uncertain of the final unit count, we think this is a great approach for this building. It is sad seeing Old City lose a gallery, but we are thrilled that the building will be given a proper treatment to restore it back to its former glory.

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Elevations and site plans show layout of what's to come
Side elevation shows layout of units

We love seeing these types of projects, when a breath of fresh air is injected into a building that is in need of a little TLC. Falling within the bounds of the Old City historic district also ensured that this building would be handled in an appropriate way as it gets spruced up. We understand the pluses and minuses of new historic districts across the city, but we hope to see more adaptive reuse projects like this in lieu of tearing down pieces of the city’s interesting and colorful history, to the extent possible. Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to go practice our post up moves while watching Blue Velvet.