A decade later, American Tobacco Campus continues to revitalize Durham
Posted September 1
Updated September 6
Durham, N.C. — Julia Cobley remembers the days before the American Tobacco Campus when biking to lunch in downtown Durham wasn’t as convenient as it is now.
“As I rode in here on the bike, I thought how wonderful it is to come off the Tobacco Trail and ride straight to lunch,” the Cary resident said. “And I remember thinking that wasn't what it used to be like 15 years ago.”
Thursday marks the campus’ 10th anniversary. A big block party is planned for Sunday to commemorate the milestone.
The area was once a decrepit, dusty space of old tobacco warehouses situated on the edge of downtown Durham. But a $200 million renovation by the Goodmon family has turned the area into a thriving city center with restaurants and cutting-edge office spaces that has drawn more development, including the Durham Performing Arts Center.
Capitol Broadcasting Corporation, which is the parent company of WRAL, also owns the American Tobacco Campus.
“It’s a day gone by but we can’t forget our past,” said Justin Hughes, manager of Tyler’s Taproom. The restaurant was the campus’ first tenant.
Another big draw for the area is the Durham Bulls, which on Sunday broke its all-time single-season paid attendance record. Monday’s game brought the final season total to 533,033 fans, surpassing the attendance mark of 520,952 set in 2007.
The area’s success wasn’t quick or easy, but Durham Mayor Bill Bell says it was worth the wait.
“I don't think anybody would look back and say they wish we'd have done it differently, only wish we'd have done it sooner,” he said. “There's no question in my mind if you look at Durham five, 10 years from now, the whole landscape is going to look different. We've come a long way, but it started right here.”