"Blade Runner: The Final Cut" comes to the Carolina Theatre
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Fayetteville/751 project draws crowd to neighborhood hearing

An estimated 100 Durhamites squeezed into the tight confines of the clubhouse at the Chancellor's Ridge development last night to hear from representatives of the team proposing a 1,200-plus unit mixed use development on a 164-acre parcel at the intersection of Fayetteville Rd. and NC 751 in South Durham.

The development team -- which included representatives from Boylan Development Co. of Raleigh, Coulter Jewell Thames, Civitech, along with land use, transportation and legal consultants -- talked to the overflow crowd about the project, which as we discussed yesterday has attracted a significant amount of public and media attention. Mike Woodard (City Council) and Becky Heron (County Commission) stopped in as well, along with George Brine of the Planning Commission.

The team stated that of the 164 acres in the parcel, 19 fell within the "critical watershed" area identified for Jordan Lake, with the remaining parcels sitting within Durham's urban growth area. A bed-and-breakfast and soccer fields were proposed as the sole elements for the critical watershed acreage, with all other development occurring on the remaining acres. All told, about 130 acres would be developed under this plan, with almost 60 acres preserved as open space. (Of the site's greenspace, the team noted that about half would remain natural with some trails.)

The developers presented a letter of support from the chief of the Parkwood VFD, noting their desire for a new firestation (a proposed element of the project) and stating the chief's support for the project. (Some residents noted the uncertainty of the VFD's future in Durham given the consternation last year over a new fire services contract with volunteer departments in Durham.)

The team also discussed the well-known issue of overcrowding at the popular Creekside Elementary and talked of the Durham Public Schools' interest in their offer to donate a site within the development that would be sufficiently large for a 90,000 sq. ft. school facility. Heron piped up at the mention of a school site and, while noting the benefits of developers offering land, mused that the county didn't have the $30-40 million cost of a new school in hand and would certainly like to see developers offer complete school facilities, not just land.

The development team confirmed they had been speaking with Triangle of the YMCA representatives, whose interest in a South Durham site emerged as part of the Lakewood Y discussions; the developers noted that rising prices for land in South Durham was squeezing the non-profit in its search for a facility. They noted that the development team had offered a site for a South Durham Y within the development; the YMCA of the Triangle, which has not formally committed to the project, would have to build their facility on the site.

In terms of residential units, the team sketched out a proposal for about 60 single-family detached homes and 200-250 townhouse/rowhouse units, with the remainder of the residential units coming in the form of condo and apartment development, through both standalone structures and through above-retail development. The proposal will call for between 500,000 and 600,000 sq. ft. of commercial and retail space, with a focus on "neighborhood-scale retail" like coffeeshops. The team noted that Randall Arendt, a well-known advocate for both conservation subdivisions and mixed-use projects, had been engaged by the developers to review and guide the planning of the site.

The developers argued that the density of the project in this case could help with runoff, since structured parking (parking decks) with wrapper residential/retail/commercial structures would predominate many areas of the site, and that the developer would have the ability to maximize capture and re-use of stormwater on-site (which is purportedly easier to manage with the large, flat roofs of a structured parking/wrapper building.) The team noted a goal of meeting or exceeding North Carolina's Cape Fear Basin stormwater requirements, with a hope of recapturing water for chiller and other non-potable uses for the institutional buildings like schools and the Y on site.

The team's traffic consultant projected a traffic impact of approximately 10,000 average daily trips, which would roughly double existing traffic on NC 751; the proposal would include a partial widening of NC 751 to four lanes, including the addition of traffic signals at several intersections.

Zoning and the density of the site came up as a frequently-mentioned concern of the homeowners present, notably around the issue of increasing the density from the current level (2 acres per dwelling unit) to a level that could be fifteen times higher to support the number of residential units under discussion.

During the early part of the meeting, some homeowners raised concern about the mix of rental/owner-occupied properties for the site; one speaker expressed her fear that South Durham has too many apartments already, and that further rental growth could contribute to higher crime or impact the family-oriented nature she ascribed to the community. Others asked about the former plan for single-family homes on site, as proposed under the old Colyard Farms project for the parcels.

The development team noted that this project would be proposed as a County project and would thus be reviewed by the County Commission, though it would appear the developers might need to reach an agreement with the City at some point for the extension of water and sewer to the site. As the project would be at odds with Durham's Comprehensive Plan, this project would appear to need both a plan amendment as well as a site rezoning to move forward. The team noted that the proposal was likely at least eight months away from reaching a hearing; the developers currently have the property under contract to purchase.

A persistent concern of some residents was the juxtaposition of some of the commercial/retail development across from the townhouse section of Chancellor's Ridge, giving those units a significantly different vista than they enjoy today. Issues of traffic cut-through and vehicular use of the site were also raised by some neighbors in the adjacent property.

We'll keep an eye out for updates on this project as they become available.

Comments

OhNo!

"one speaker expressed her fear that South Durham has too many apartments already, and that further rental growth could contribute to higher crime or impact the family-oriented nature she ascribed to the community."

Oh my god, we might see some BLACK PEOPLE in South Durham!

steve bocckino

OhNo---South Durham's neighborhoods are more integrated than most of old Durham's are.

OhNo!

Uh huh. Low-income East Durhamites are moving to Southpoint in droves!

steve bocckino

OhNo---you are clueless. I said integrated, I didn't say anything about East Durhamites.

Elizabeth T.

Jordan Lake is already polluted as far as I'm concerned (not that more development near it will help matters). A few years ago I went boating with some friends on the lake. My friend's boat was old and required that he add lead to the engine. The engine leaked and was shooting a steady stream of leaded gasoline into the water the whole time we were out on the water. When I asked, his wife casually answered that it always did that. I have not been swimming in Jordan Lake since! Do any of you know if this is a common occurrence with boats? It certainly doesn't make me excited about receiving drinking water from the lake.

worriedhomeowner

The footprint of this new development is going to be higher (195 acres to 120 as reported at the meeting last night) than Southpoint Mall. Traffic is going to double along 751 even by conservative estimates. Of the 1,200 housing units, there are very few single family detached homes and the vast majority of the units (over 800) are going to be apartments or condos. Ughh, this is not the kind of development I envisioned when I moved into the area.

OhNo!

Seriously, the racist and classist undertones of the people who are concerned about renters, crime and 'family-friendly environments' are glaring. Black, low-income, etc are really just codes for 'people who aren't like us'.

Kevin Davis

OhNo! -- I should have been clearer in my initial post that I didn't sense any racial animus or fear whatsoever. Many homeowners have concerns about living near homeowners rather than renters and there are plenty of explanations for it that don't revolve around race. (I don't agree with the philosophy of it being a concern, but I don't feel obliged to chalk it up to the dark corners of the human heart either.)

steve bocckino

OhNo---you keep implying that we in south Durham are racists. Where is your evidence?

Who in Durham isn't concerned about crime? South Durham has more apartments than any other part of town. South Durham neighborhoods are more integrated than most of old Durham.

You COULD certainly make the argument that new development is expensive and cost prohibitive for many folks, but that isn't what you are saying. You COULD say that Durham doesn't have inclusionary zoning that would construct affordable housing along with more expensive housing. You COULD say that expensive new development displaces existing more affordable housing.

Instead you paint 50,000 Durhamites with the racism brush.

OhNo!

I should be clearer too. I'm not painting all South Durhamites with the 'racism brush'. I'm painting those homeowners who keep talking about crime concerns, family-oriented environments and so on when questions of increased proportions of rental properties come up with the 'classism brush'. Often (but not always) that goes hand-in-hand with race - it's hard to escape the fact that one is more likely to be poor if one is black. I have a serious problem with the idea of 'development' being equated with home ownership. Renters are not evil criminals. I've had a lot of experience with people neighborhood listservs talking about 'good people moving in' and so on. Often this comes from self-defined 'liberals'. Really, it's a PC way of saying 'we don't want people who work in gas stations living around here'.

Michael Bacon

Steve said in another topic that many downtown neighborhoods would object to this kind of density. I actually wouldn't object to it in the right spot (and let's be honest, there's no 190 acre parcel anywhere near downtown, so it would be same density, smaller extent), but I do strongly object to having this kind of density on the very edge of town. High density areas like this are only a good idea if they are transit friendly. If the developers want to subsidize a bus every 10 minutes from there, through SouthPoint, and on up to downtown, maybe I could get behind it.

steve bocckino

Michael,
I agree with you on density in the proper place, but as Paracelsus said, "the dose determines the poison." I don't know of any neighborhood in Durham that would rejoice at 1200 apartments being built on their doorstep. I have seen Durham neighborhoods go to war over one broken promise, let alone 10 years of them.

southdurhamite

There are some areas of South Durham that could handle this density of development. The old EPA laboratory property at the corner of 54 and T.W. Alexander is a good example.

It's the siting next to Colvard Farms that is loony.

JDC

Message to developers: Bring the mixed-use projects to the city's urban areas and let single-use suburbia suffer the consequences of automobile dependency.

durhamfood

JDC: Agreed.

KH

I compare this "proposed" development to University Rd. between South Square and Old Chapel Hill Rd. There are close to 1000 apartment/townhome units (if not more) and a ton of office space all on a short stretch of road. The connectivity and amenities can be better planned with a single developer.

Mixed-Use does not only belong in the urban core! The Southpointe area is a major activity node...I would rather see a developer develop a single plan versus 4/5 different complexes built by different people. I am also sure that this development will be in the Lodge at SouthPoint price range...one particular person will not be able to move there. Inclusionary Zoning in this development would definitely raise eye brows...NIMBYs :-(

My only concern is that Durham is sold a Cadillac and end up with a Fiat (PC: no offense to anyone). Will the developer get approval for 1200 units, 600K sq. ft. mixed-used...walkable...environmentally-"aware" dev. and then build a 1M sq. ft. big box center with some complementary cookie cutter homes? I realize the economy will affect the final product but if you're going to build an "Auto Park" just call it an Auto Park. LOL

steve bocckino

Just to put the 500,000 sf of retail that Boylan proposes into perspective:

The Homestead Market SC on 54 is 163,000 sf

"Renaissance Village" anchored by Target on Renaissance Pkwy behind Southpoint is 400,000 sf

"Renaissance Center" across from Southpoint on Fayetteville Rd is 750,000 sf

Southpoint is 1.3 million square feet.

In short, we're not talking about a little "neighborhood commercial." And you downtowners can't even get a grocery store.

Elizabeth T.

Oh No! and others,
South Durham is being portrayed unfairly. This is an extremely diverse place. Most of the neighborhoods around here contain apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes. My street has houses owned by African-American, Chinese, Middle Eastern, French, and white families. No, we can't easily walk to stores, and that's a bummer, but we have lovely walking trails, scenic lakes with abundant wildlife, and other outdoor amenities. There is lots of diversity in terms of income, profession (my street has a mechanic, a secretary, a nurse, a chiropractor, a professor, a programmer, a stay-at-home mom, retired people, and doctors. Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and gasp, even Republicans! Christians and non-believers. So lay off South Durham all the time! Your attitude is just as intolerant as all the people you profess to know here.

OhNo!

"my street has a mechanic, a secretary, a nurse, a chiropractor, a professor, a programmer, a stay-at-home mom, retired people, and doctors" South Durham: Middle Income Central. Point proven. How many gas station attendents live in your neighborhood? What about checkout people at Food Lion? Factory workers?

Elizabeth T.

OhNo! My daughter goes to our local elementary school. Our neighborhood has an apartment complex in it (not on my street, but a five minute walk away and definitely a part of the neighborhood). The school bus is filled with kids who live in that complex. Let me tell you, the economic diversity in this neighborhood and in her school is amazing. It's one of the reasons I like living in Durham. Almost 60% of the kids in her school get free or reduced lunch. So don't try to tell me that there are no lower income folks in South Durham or in my neighborhood! Just check out the demographics of Southwest, Githerns, Parkwood, Creekside, Pearsontown, and Hope Valley schools if think that only rich white people live in this area! I enjoy reading this blog, but I get sick of the misrepresentations of people who live in certain areas and the snarky attitude that come along with the blind generalizations.

I can't speak to the beliefs of the homeowner who asked about rental properties--she may well harbor her own prejudices and classist attitudes, but I think that to paint an entire part of the city with that brush, just because it's not part of the urban core, is unfair.

Melissa Rooney

I am appalled to hear people even imply that South Durhamites are discriminatory in any way. I live in Fairfield, very near this proposed development, and my neighborhood prides itself on its heterogeneity, in terms of race, nationality, and even political party membership.

Besides, the issue of race or any other form of discrimination takes us away from the more important issues that are integral to this development case:

1) As one Durham activist recently wrote:

Just to put the 500,000 sf of retail that Boylan
proposes into perspective:

The Homestead Market SC on 54 is 163, 000 sf

"Renaissance Village" anchored by Target on
Renaissance Pkwy behind Southpoint is 400, 000 sf

"Renaissance Center" across from Southpoint on
Fayetteville Rd is 750, 000 sf

Southpoint is 1.3 million square feet.

In short, we're not talking about a little "neighborhood commercial."

2) The importance and anticipated controversial nature of this development is evidenced by the attendees of the neighborhood meeting, many of whom live far outside the required 'notification boundary,' and who have been involved in achieving TRULY environmentally responsible development in the past, including but not limited to:

George Brine -- long standing planning commissioner and currently CHAIR of the planning commission.

County Commissioner Becky Heron, who made it clear that, even if developers offer land for a school, it may very well remain vacant until tax-payers pony up the millions of dollars to build that school. Chapel Hill has been very successful in getting developers to donate BOTH land and money toward schools. Durham should not sell itself short in this regard.

City Council Member Mike Woodard.

I would hope that the development team (and immediate neighbors Chancellor's Ridge) would welcome these knowledgeable and experienced gov't officials' involvement, and would take their comments and concerns deeply to heart.

3) Regardless of the economic and convenience benefits to Chancellor's Ridge residents (which are arguable), the fact of the matter remains: this plan is not a tweaking of the land use plan, it is a major disregard for Durham's land planning with serious consequences for future land use not only in our area but throughout Durham County.

Just two years ago, Durham gov't wrote the comprehensive plan, specifically preserving this area as Rural Residential for the health of Jordan Lake. Developers were heavily involved in the writing of the comprehensive plan (in addition to planners, environmentalists, and heaps of Durham citizens). Why did we spend the time and money to write the comprehensive plan at all, if it was going to be ammended only 2 years later? Our property tax valuations are good for 8 years -- at the very least, the comprehensive plan should hold for this long.

4) If this mixed commercial development is approved, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will only be used as reason for putting in more commercial development -- as developers will argue that the area has changed since 2007 and such commercial developments are now in line with the 'rest of the area.'

5) As this development is on Inventory land, and is immediately adjacent to, with 10-15% actually WITHIN, the Jordan Lake watershed, I would think that all Durham residents should be welcome and privy to discussions/negotiations with the developer. Jordan Lake is an assett for ALL of Durham -- environmentally (wildlife, including bald eagles, still abound on Jordan Lake), recreation-wise (canoeing, boating, kayaking, hiking, swimming, etc.), and in terms of Durham's drinking water supply (due to the drought, which is presumed to reoccur in the future, Durham is in the process of tapping even MORE Jordan Lake water for its drinking supply).

5) Conservation Subdivision Requirements in Durham's UDO (ordinances governing Durham development):

If the development team is sincerely interested in conservation and environmental responsibility, they should consider the requirements (including the revisions now under consideration) for Conservation Subdivisions (in Durham's UDO).

At the neighborhood meeting, Byker stated that they planned to provide 35% open space, but did not indicate whether this was on buildable land or not.

Regardless, 35% seems like a lot, but it still doesn't reach that required by the UDO's conservation subdivision section, nor by Randall Arendt, himself
(see below).

For a 'conservation subdivision, the UDO requires a MINIMUM of 40% Open Space (of the gross area of the development, proposed amendments require this not include unbuildable land).

Since the developers pride this project (and others) on their environmental friendliness (and conservation efforts), it is not unreasonable to request that they increase their OS to > 40% (not including unbuildable land, like powerline and sewer easements), so that they would be complying with the most up-to-date conservation subdivision requirement.

6) Randall Arendt's Recommendations for conservation subdivisions:

The development team said that they have sought the help of conservation development guru, Randall Arendt.

Randall Arendt, himself, states that "The key difference is that this technique requires new construction to be located on only a portion -- typically half -- of the parcel. The remaining open space is permanently protected under a conservation easement co-signed by a local conservation commission or land trust, and recorded in the registry of deeds."
For full article, see:
http://www.plannersweb.com/articles/are015.html

In another reference Arendt states:
"Conservation subdivision ... permanently preserves 50 to 70 percent or more of the property's total BUILDABLE land as natural areas. Trails meander through natural areas and provide outdoor recreation for subdivision residents."
Full article:
http://www.amerisurv.com/content/view/2678/

If Randall Ahrendt is, indeed, involved in this development, shouldn't it provide at least 50% Open Space?

And, if this is a development that is truly conservation-oriented, I presume it would not involve massive clear-cutting and mass-grading, but would save ALL specimen trees that are not in the line of fire (where roads and buildings are to be constructed).

7) I don't see how extending commercial zoning to this portion of South Durham encourages the city-center mentality that is supposedly encompassed within the comprehensive plan. In addition, it is my understanding that a virtually identical mixed-use development proposal was recently rejected IN the city...so why should it be appropriate for the rural tier?

7) Don't sell Durham short. Making any and all concerns known to developers and ensuring that they provide committed elements to actually address these concerns is NOT 'anti-development.' We only get one chance, and this is not a reversible process.

Sincerely,
Melissa Rooney


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barry

i can't tell if OhNo! is claiming that all of Durham's poor and working class residents are Black, or that all of Durham's Black residents are poor and working class.

Can you enlighten me?

Melissa Rooney

It appears that Boylan had the development plan all along (see below)...it's frustrating, and instills mistrust, that they didn't present this formal plan at their neighborhood meeting. In fact, it seemed implied that they were taking neighbors' comments into consideration in forming their development plan.

From Planning:

"The application(s) we received yesterday was a request for MU(D) zoning (for the portion of the site in the Suburban Tier) and RR(D) zoning (for the portion of the site in the Rural Tier). The development plan proposes 1,300 residential units, 500,000 sq. ft. of non-residential floor space, and several civic uses. We also received a plan amendment application for the suburban tier portion of the site to change the land
use designation to Low-Medium Density Residential (4-8 Du/Ac)."

KH's comments are right -- the developer isn't asking for 1200 homes: He's asking for 1300!!

Mark

OhNo! I live in South Durham and have families from 5 different races/ethnic groups on my street alone. Your ignorant comments are distracting from a serious topic that has far reaching implications about zoning and environemental impact of development in this area as well as to Durham in general. If this project manages to get approved, it will render irrelevent a zoning/land use system altogether. Perhaps we can have condos above a Wallmart....

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