BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for July 26, 2010
July 26, 2010
The Fishwrap has been on a bit of a hiatus of late, as your correspondent has been spending more time reading the Orlando Sentinel, the Tennessean, the Columbia Daily Herald -- heck, even the Lewis County (Tenn.) Herald -- than we have the Herald-Sun.
But it's good to be home and to crack open the virtual pages of the Herald-Sun and the N&O again. In the headlines:
Greenfire to Seek Local Funds: Greenfire Development already had support from the City for its downtown development plan, though the Great Recession has blown their timeline to smithereens. Now the Herald-Sun notes that besides $25 million in stimulus-funded, non-taxpayer-recourse loans, the developer seems likely to be seeking tax credits and cash support from the City and County governments to transform downtown's Hill Building into a boutique hotel. The H-S notes that a redevelopment could boost tax receipts by more than $230k per year -- though both today and possible tomorrow tax receipt values are cut 50% by the tower's local historic landmark status. (Herald-Sun)
South Regional Library Opens Wed.: The last piece in the regional library puzzle is completed this Wednesday, when the South Regional Library opens up at NC 54 and S. Alston Ave. near Lowe's Grove and Parkwood. The new library -- Durham's fourth all-new or massively renovated regional facility, along with facilities for the eastern, northern and southwestern parts of the county -- completes a bond issue-funded project to replace small leased-space library branches with full-fledged, modern regional facilities. A makeover of the downtown main library awaits County capital funding and likely a bond referendum this decade. (Herald-Sun)
City Steps In on Los Primos Issue: The widening of Alston Ave. through a NECD neighborhood leaves City officials stuck between two unpleasant alternatives, their veritable Scylla (the loss of Los Primos, one of NECD's only grocery stores) and Charybdis (widening the road to the east would squash expansion plans for the widely-respected Durham Rescue Mission.) But local leaders may have found a way around the Strait of Messina entirely, picking up the search for a new location for Los Primos that could smooth the path to the roadway's expansion. (Herald-Sun)
It's Not as Hot: One benefit to being out of town again this weekend? Cooler weather, though it's pretty scary when the heat index in Florida is fifteen or so degrees below that of the Bull City. Still, today we'll see a high of only 92, as rainfall helps to keep the dangerous temperatures down. (Herald-Sun)
Foreclosures Rise 35%: Durham's housing troubles have largely been isolated from the national issues in states like Nevada, Arizona and Florida where rampant overexpansion in housing stock fueled the bust, but the rising unemployment that's come out of the national economic malaise still sees the first half of 2010's foreclosures clocking in 35% ahead of 2009's 1Q/2Q levels. Almost 1,000 properties entered the first stage of foreclosure in Durham in 2010. (Herald-Sun)
Friends of Durham Back 751 South: In perhaps the least-surprising move in the 751 South mess, the generally pro-business Friends of Durham PAC has come out in support of the 751 South development. (Herald-Sun, N&O)
Can't wait for the new library to open off NC 54. It'll be a nice cultural addition for an area that needs it more than, say, another strip shopping center.
Posted by: Wesley Hyatt | July 26, 2010 at 09:23 AM
The city turning town a 3 lane proposal from the DOT feels like a stab in the back to me (an East Durham resident). Ahrendsen has previously made comments to me (and my neighborhood group) that the road design from the DOT was not appropriate for the neighborhood, and he was hoping they would do something better.
Alston Ave should not be a high speed four lane road (plus dedicated turn lanes) through a residential neighborhood and past an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! The widening ends at Holloway St anyhow- so this is truly a highway to nowhere.
East Durham needs to be connected to downtown, not isolated by a ribbon of asphalt. I thought Durham already learned this lesson a time or two.
Thanks BCR and Herald Sun for staying on top of this issue.
Posted by: chloe | July 26, 2010 at 01:51 PM
It would be nice for Greenfire to have at least one of their properties become something more than a vacant building. To turn the Hill Building into a hotel will really help the cities center. My wife will be moving her store "Dolly's Vintage" to 213 W.Main St. this fall. As soon as renovations are completed to the Main Street pharmacy, Dollys will be situated in the west side of the building. New entrances,windows,and transoms will really restore this 1898 building back to is original look. Will keep you posted.Scott
Posted by: Scott Donner | July 26, 2010 at 05:19 PM
If the numbers are realistic, why not help out one of Durham's better developers transform the Hill building into something that feeds growth downtown? What's the anticipated payback period? It would be nice to see Greenfire's comprehensive plan come to fruition to bring more people downtown, and help new businesses start up. Seems a no-brainer (if the numbers are realistic). It can't be that difficult to sponsor a successful developer with all the other examples we have downtown.
Now that the East End Connector is finally on track, the last thing we need to do is widen any more of our inner city north/south connectors, especially Alston Avenue, beyond adding center turn lanes. When the EEC is finished, tons of traffic will either head east to Granville County, or due north to Roxboro and Duke streets. Imagine the pile up of traffic on the I85 off-ramps headed toward North Durham! Avondale and Alston both feed into Roxboro, which then funnels into Duke/Roxboro past Horton. I shudder to think how much Infinity/Latta can get any worse at 5pm. After the EEC, the traffic jams will just shift from U70/Miami to Roxboro & Duke at I85. The issue won't be solved until a bypass is built from I85 to north Durham (the Durham parkway to St. Mary's intersection).
Furthermore, unless there's a huge uptick in east/central Durham residents, what traffic is expected to be reduced? How will rushing north Durham commuters to the proposed Alston Avenue extension to merge with I85 traffic from the EEC going to solve anything? The idea has already been made obsolete by proceeding with the EEC, even if it means waiting a little longer for progress.
Posted by: GreenLantern | July 26, 2010 at 05:52 PM
Kevin: An apt analogy with Charybdis & Scylla, and navigating the treacherous currents of the Strait of Messina. Don't forget that they built (or are building) a bridge to bring Sicily closer to Calabria, making unnecessary the risky trip by ferry.
So where is the likely new digs for Los Primos? How about the old car dealership on Main/Fayetteville?
Posted by: GreenLantern | July 26, 2010 at 07:23 PM