The N&O's announced that the Patterson Place shopping center is getting itself some new tenants, courtesy of its latest expansion.
And if you're a fan of Moe's, Five Guys, or Applebee's, and you happen to live off Mount Moriah Road? Well, hey, it's your lucky day. All three are coming to the South Durham center, along with a Duke Medicine clinic -- where presumably you can get your heart checked out after gorging on Five Guys burgers and Applebee's, well, whatever they put in that stuff.
It's no surprise that such retailers would pony up cash to be part of the So-Dur retail "node" at that intersection. And more confirmation of the grim secret of national-scale retail, something Barry Ragin and I talk about when he grouses about why no one will lease-up the old Kmart and movie theater on Avondale Drive, and why instead mega-franchises like these seem to sidle up next to each other like old pals.
We've talked here before about the South Durham National Retail Distortion Field, that demographic asterisk amidst Durham's funky self that magically persuades national retailers, "Hey, it's safe to open your business here!"
That clarion call sounds remarkably like the advice sometimes seen on Internet message boards like City-Data, and roundly chortled-about by downtowners and North Durhamites, that southwest Durham -- which, mind you, is a perfectly nice place with great neighborhoods -- is somehow the "only" place in the Bull City where one should live, thanks to its new homes, new schools, new roads, and of course, new mall and shopping.
Of course, Durham, even its southwestern frontier, doesn't get all the credit for our new retail overlords. There's I-40 playing a big part of that. So too does the presence of Chapel Hill, which in the cross-tabs of retail plays sits at the curious intersection of a community with a lot of money and a very small appetite for development and retail.
Hey, Chapel-Hillians, come on over the border! Bring your gold cards, please. You don't have nearly enough working class housing (almost-April Fool's Day headline here: "Chapel Hill Rejects Three Sites, Votes to Ship Low-Income Housing to Durham") so at least give us your sales tax revenue so we can house the folks who work at your hospital and university? 'Kay, thanks!
As we've kvetched about here before several times, of course, the new wave of new along 15-501 has displaced the old wave of new, the 1970s wündermall that was South Square, and which with an expanded Northgate helped to kill off Durham's preceding new wave of retail, the neighborhood strips like Forest Hills and Lakewood and Wellons Village that -- wait for it -- killed off downtown retail.
Heck, if you dig in to those yellowing 1850s maps that my friend Gary likes to parade on Endangered Durham, I'm sure somewhere you'll find signs that Durham's birth killed off a trading post in Gorman or Hillsborough or something like that.
Anyway, the modern wave of Durham retail displacement has seen the rise of New Hope Commons, then Patterson Place, then Indigo Corners.
And it's a perfect intersection to go to if you're looking for a Lonestar Red Robin Carrabba's Panera Jason's Deli Barnes & Noble Best Buy Party City Kohl's Home Depot Verizon Starbucks Walmart OfficeMax Dick's-perience.
Not, mind you, that there's anything wrong with that.
The notion that somehow us downtowners sit around eating pâté and caviar while sipping Chardonnay at James Beard-nominated restaurants whilst we thumb our collective noses at 15-501's retail mall-sprawl is a bit ridiculous.
Hell, I've never had pâté or caviar, and have no idea if either would go well with Chardonnay.
The BCRs aren't adverse at all to a little national retail. We've long liked Panera as a place to go to check email in the mornings over a bagel and coffee. We love downtown restaurants like Tosca and Piazza Italia, but there's times we're in the area and stop at Carrabba's.
And so forth.
No, as much as Durham's a town where local is celebrated -- and rightfully so -- there's always going to be different tastes for different folks. Or different nights of the week.
My concern has long been more about the wisdom of throwing so much chock-a-block in one little corner of town.
Of course, the public sector and neighborhoods don't have that much of a say over where these businesses end up.
There's plenty who'd love to have seen more restricted development at the 15-501/Mount Moriah corner. It's not a pedestrian-friendly area; it's barely a car-friendly area.
On the other hand, if Patterson Place didn't disgorge a plate of trees for its second phase, it's not as though Moe's and Five Guys would be opening up shop at North Pointe or Northgate instead. They simply wouldn't come to town.
And Applebee's used to be in town. Northward, up on 15-501, by South Square Mall.
You know, the one we displaced.