A rezoning proposal for the project made it in front of the Durham Planning Commission back in December, but was quickly postponed by agreement of the developer, Glenn Dickson, and representatives of Old West Durham and Watts-Hillandale, which had been deep in negotiations over what project characteristics the development-savvy neighborhoods would support.
OWDNA's John Schelp on Sunday night announced on neighborhood listservs that the developer and neighborhood associations had finally agreed in principle on acceptable development terms; the revised rezoning proposal will come before the Planning Commission at their meeting tomorrow. According to the update from W-H's Tom Miller:
Central to the debate between developer and neighborhoods/local merchants was the insertion of a large (340,000+ sq. ft., including the existing first phase of NSN) mixed-use development between small scale neighborhoods consisting of old mill village housing and other single-family residences and the longstanding commercial zone of Ninth St. south of the development site, which sits largely on the block between Ninth, Iredell and Green Sts.
Most intriguing among the agreements: an agreement between the neighborhoods and a more reticent developer that the 209,000 sq. ft. of residential units intended for Ninth Street North would be organized in a legally more-complex condominium fashion, paving the way for eventual sale even if some or all of the residential units are initially rented -- though Miller notes the agreement hasn't passed muster of city staff quite yet:
Also central to the agreement: building heights, which under current zoning could in theory reach 145' tall; the developer has agreed to a scale-down of heights as the structure moves from the more-commercial Elmo's side to the largely residential Green St.
On the southern end of the site, heights could reach 75' with a 9' stepback making the penthouse level invisible from the street, and with an overall average height of 65'. Heights step down to a low of 50' nearest Green St., with building heights limited to four story for all-residential or three story for office/commercial space. A 50' buffer strip between Green St. and the project would contain no structures, save for possible outside tables for dining.
Most of the new retail space created by the project would sit on the main block between Ninth and Iredell (19,700 retail sq. ft.) or in a new multi-story structure to eventually be built where Vin Rouge and Blu sit today (18,000 sq. ft. retail, with 64,650 sq. ft. of office space above.) For comparison's sake, the existing first phase of Ninth Street North contains 12,500 sq. ft. of retail and an equal amount of office space.
In other requirements, the developer agreed to completely hide the visibility of the structured parking deck at the center of the Iredell/Green/Ninth block via the building structures, save for the entrances -- it initially would have been visible from both Iredell and Green -- and to allow only one drive-in window, for a possible bank, to be located in the deck structure itself.
Stucco can make up no more than 20% and glass no more than 25% of the structure, which must be articulated so as to avoid presenting "a long, unbroken plane to the street."
Given the neighborhoods' agreement with Dickson, and the dense project's location in the midst of one of Durham's compact neighborhood tiers designed to support intensive, transit-oriented development, we'd expect few quibbles when this project makes it before the Planning Commission or the City Council in the weeks to come.