Downtown Durham sees residential building boom
Posted July 11, 2014
Durham, N.C. — New residential construction projects, from apartment complexes to lofts, are popping up across downtown Durham, and city leaders said they hope a growing population will draw more retailers to the central city.
Nearly 800 housing units are under construction in the city right now, and officials said that could help double the number of downtown residents in the near future.
"In order for Durham to grow and build out, it needs to have inhabitants downtown," said Casey Steinbacher, chief executive of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.
Steinbacher said the new residents should draw grocery stores, boutiques and more restaurants to the downtown area as well.
"The demographic, the traffic isn't here (now) to be able to generate that," she said.
Five new hotels also are going up in Durham, including four near the convention center.
"The biggest obstacle we've had in being able to be an attractive location for conventions has been hotels within walking distance of the convention center," Steinbacher said.
Growth like this is what inspired architect and developer Scott Harmon to move downtown years ago. Now, he plans to move into one of the new properties while he works on a 12-unit project of his own.
Harmon said it's an exciting time to live and work in Durham because he sees more downtown growth in the future.
"Part of what I love is that the story isn't done, and the people that are down here working on downtown are still creating what we want downtown to be like," he said.
Both Steinbacher and Harmon acknowledged that the new residential projects will be for higher-income people, but they said the larger supply of available housing could drive down prices elsewhere and create more affordable housing options across Durham.