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Developers move ahead with plans for Durham high-rise

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DURHAM, N.C. -

A meeting with Durham residents has tried to reassure them that a planned high-rise project downtown will be good for them and for business.

Tuesday morning, Austin Lawrence Partners convinced the city's historical commission that the project would not adversely impact the area along Main, Corcoran and Parrish streets.

Tuesday night, those developers answered questions from the public about the high-rise, which will incorporate and preserve five historic facades.

Some who came to the meeting were skeptics initially.

"At first I was concerned about the height of the building; the impact on traffic and closing local businesses," said area resident Renee Leverty.

By the end of the meeting, she'd changed her mind. "From this meeting, I feel they are conscientious developers and doing a good job trying to work with the community."

Just across the street from the high-rise, developers plan to convert the Hill Building into a boutique Hotel.

Between the two projects, that amounts to about $90 million in development occurring in the same block, and that will go a long way towards helping to revitalize that part of the downtown.

"This was the economic center for a lot of Durham for quite some time; especially black Durham," explained Rep. Larry Hall, a Democrat from the 29th district.

Back at the turn of the century, he says Parrish Street was a vital, vibrant area which leaders hope the high-rise will help resurrect.

"It will bring more people to downtown Durham; a lot more business, a lot more context,'' he said. "Hopefully we can have the same success they had when this street was called the Black Wall Street."

Developers told those attending the meeting they want to return that sense of vitality back to the Parrish Street and the surrounding neighborhood.

Urban enthusiasts believe the development will actually encourage local retailers to locate in the area.

"Our focus over the last ten years has been to recruit the mom and pops into city center," said Matthew Coppedge of Downtown Durham Inc. "I think this will help create that environment that will help them thrive and survive in downtown."

The developer believes the project will attract many different kinds of folks to the urban environment of downtown Durham.

"That segment of the population doesn't have the option to experience what they did in other cities, so we think it will appeal to those folks who are either here or might come here in the future," said developer Greg Hills.

The developers must now come up with a site plan, which should take about six months.

  • DIG DEEPER: Read the full 83 page PDF presentation made by the developers to the Durham Historical Commission by clicking here.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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