Even though we're entering the holiday season, a time when things slow down in many industries, all indications are that Durham revitalization and renewal in and adjacent to downtown is likely to keep in the forefront of the public eye in the Bull City.
First up, we have the Rolling Hills subdivision redevelopment, a project in the planning and evaluation stage for the better part of a year. Rolling Hills was built on the ashes of urban renewal with over a million dollars in city-backed loans, but neither developer was successful and the project's ended up an eyesore in the old Hayti/Fayetteville St. area (not to mention a financial failure).
Today, the N&O is reporting that City Council will next week consider a draft redevelopment agreement for Rolling Hills and part of the St. Theresa neighborhood adjacent to it. The players in the draft agreement are national developers McCormack Baron Salazar (which specializes in redeveloping distressed urban neighborhoods) and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse (which is active generally in urban renewal/re-use, and has its hands in American Tobacco and the DAP area here in Durham.)
A McCormack representative was asked about their approach and asked whether the Southside neighborhood redevelopment in Greensboro (see this early post or Gary's blog for more) would be a model for what the developer would propose in Durham. His answer, posted at the Southside Durham blog:
"One significant feature of our community-based approach is the upfront development of mixed income housing for all income levels — at a scale large enough to ensure the neighborhood’s transformation, permanently. We also insist on addressing local schools, employment programs and related community support services right at the beginning of the process."
Rolling Hills is right across the street from Heritage Square, which Scientific Properties is planning to redevelop once it acquires a retail development partner. More on the Rolling Hills agreement next week as it develops.
Next up: The downtown Durham master plan, which has been under a review and renewal process throughout 2007, spurred in part by the faster-than-expected redevelopment of downtown with projects like American Tobacco and West Village. Word is that the updated plan is nearing its unveiling, and will at minimum address concerns about the barrier that the NC Railroad Co. lines presents between the city center and the American Tobacco/DBAP/Performing Arts Center district.
Last, and perhaps most intriguingly -- Greenfire Development has said all along they'd release a master plan of their vision of redeveloping their properties downtown, but that they wanted to wait for the DDI master planning process to end. Does this mean that, with the downtown master planning process ending, that we'll get to hear more about what their plans and intentions are for downtown? The rumor mill holds that we may in fact learn more about their plans and their desired partnerships over the next few months, if not sooner.
Which is to say nothing about the West Village Phase II or Golden Belt redevelopment projects, both underway with construction crews busily working at both sites.
Expect quite a bit of news -- and likely public debate -- in the months to come.