Speed kills. Again.
Culture Crawl on for tonight

Old Durham, New Durham

Yesterday was by any account an interesting day for re-development and renewal in the Bull City.  Downtown, one building with an old history and life was dedicated for a new purpose: helping us remember and celebrate that which came before.  Meanwhile, the same day in south Durham, an old and dying shopping center has officially been christened for a mixed-use renewal.  Two fading edifices, two new purposes.

Despite the bitter cold and snow -- yes, snow in Durham in January, I know, quite shocking -- city leaders and renowned Duke scholar John Hope Franklin dedicated 200 N. Mangum St. downtown, the old Rogers Drug Store, as the new home for the Parrish Street Project and Preservation Durham.  The Rogers Drug Store building is one of numerous buildings that Greenfire Development has snatched up in and around Durham as part of a re-development strategy... or, depending on how you look at it, a massive land assemblage strategy.  (More on that in an upcoming post.)

It's great to see these efforts taking such a prominent space downtown.  Preservation Durham has a long history of both educating the community on Durham's architectural history, be it through neighborhood tours, lunch-and-learn sessions, or publications -- and spearheading programs to support the rehabilitation of historic homes and properties in the Bull City.  For its part, the Parrish Street Project has the opportunity to help recapture the spirit and accomplishments of Durham's early-20th century African-American financial and insurance community, the so-called "Black Wall Street" phenomenon that was unique in the southeast US, if not all of America, and from which NC Mutual Life, M&F Bank, and Mutual Community Savings Bank all still stand proud.

As quoted by the Herald-Sun, I think Bill Bell was right on in his assessment of what the future holds for downtown:

City officials like Bell touted the opening as another move in their attempts to revitalize downtown, an effort that has included subsidies for massive real-estate projects like the American Tobacco and West Village complexes.

"What we're doing in downtown Durham is going to make this place a focal point of the Triangle," Bell said. "This place has a character none of the other downtowns have."

Meanwhile, on the south side of Durham, the once-fading district surrounding the former South Square Mall has taken another step towards its own renewal.  From the N&O--

A development group wants to spend at least $50 million to transform the half-empty Regency Plaza shopping center on Shannon Road into an upscale mix of retail shops and residences.The group has filed plans to turn the ragged plaza at Shannon Road and University Drive into a mixed-use community dubbed University Marketplace.  [....]

The marketplace would have retail shops at street level and apartments or condominiums stretching four or five floors, Allison said. Plans call for up to 140,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 389 residential units, according to the rezoning application. A preliminary rendering depicts six retail and five residential buildings -- some combined, some separate -- as well as surface parking and a five-level parking deck. Those details may change, Allison said, adding that it isn't yet clear whether the development will include apartments, condos or both.

If you don't know where this is, here's a view from Google Maps.  The property in question is to the right of the green arrow; on the left of the arrow across Shannon Rd. is the current home of SuperTarget and Sam's Club at the old South Square Mall.

The N&O has a terrific analysis that is best read in full; there's not a lot of value I can add to their insight.  As they point out, this seems most likely to be an apartment play rather than condos, which makes sense to me about the area as well.  One terrific advantage that developers Hawthorne Capital have with this property is its proximity to 15-501, easily  accessible northbound and southbound.  Strikes me that this will be a very attractive property for Duke and UNC grad students and staff, who'll be a short drive from their campuses (well... short is relative if you're ever taking 15-501 to Chapel Hill, but I digress) and very close to the neighboring SuperTarget/Sam's Club/Harris Teeter complexes.  Given the tremendous growth at both UNC and Duke, this project seems to have some good legs from a developer's point of view.

Not much in the way of pedestrian possibilities here, but this strip center is certainly a space that could use some renewal.  At the same time, it's an extremely well-hidden center, quite hard to see from University and Business 15-501 and far from any residential spaces, both of which should help get the developer the needed rezoning. 

One day, two renewal projects.  Not a bad count for a single day in Durham.


Freddie Estremera

Hey man,
I am a member of city-data.com and go by the name of elnene2k...I have been seeing your posts on the positives of the Durham future and recently seen that you have a website...I have been looking at it for the past 2 hours and am amazed at all the info you have on it...I just moved last month and have been falling more and more in love with the area as the days go by...I just wanted to say that I appreciate your commitment to informing people on the "Urban Renewal" of Durham...I look to become more involved in the community in the coming months and look forward to seeing the city flourish right before my eyes...Keep up the good work...

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