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Because we're curious: What's behind the gray fencing in Black Wall Street Plaza?


While our attention is on Black Wall Street Plaza — and its uses, public or private — we wondered what was the point of the large gray, screened boxes in that green space. You know, the ones with the decorative cardinals peeping over the edge.

If you guessed a Duke Energy electrical switchgear cabinet then you get free power for a year! (Offer not valid in the U.S.)

The utility applied to the city to place these transformers in the plaza in 2010 as part of the Downtown Reliability Enhancement Project. Additional transformers are at a second site in a parking lot at 315 Holland Street, near the Durham Hotel.

The cabinets in the plaza are 45 1/2 inches high. Each one takes up 37.78 square feet, according to documents filed with city. The entire project area is 108 square feet, about 1 percent of the total area of the plaza.

Download Duke Energy_reliabilityproject

Duke Energy paid a $1,010 fee to place the switchgear cabinets in the city-owned plaza. However, an official with the General Services department, which maintains the park, said the city doesn't receive an additional money, such as rent, for the space the cabinets consume.

Download Duke Energy - Mangum Street Open Space Area

Time Warner also has a utility box in the plaza, on the east side of Luna and near the sidewalk along Main Street. 

IMG_3374You are beautiful, but these cabinets aren't:
A message written on the side of a Duke Energy switchgear cabinet in Black Wall Street Plaza.



They could be an interesting platform for public art.


That is a really good idea Annette. Public art could help liven up the park a bit more. Here are some examples:


Can we put a countertop on them? Standard Bar height is 42 inches? Bam.
-Off to solve another problem...


I thought we could hold public executions on them for the press coverage, and, you know, to keep it real; but I'm cool with drinks.

Bro Ray

I like Annette's public art idea and the link provided by Rick..... let's do it Durhm!


Not sure how safe or receptive Duke would be to that idea, Victor. Beverages and electricity don't typically mix.


Just happened to walk by there tonight and wondered about the cardinals. A quick glance at the project plans didn't show them. Are they guerilla public art? Either way, I liked them (the birds).


The birds were done by Cassandra Gooding, a board member & artist at Liberty Arts:

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