Local News

Durham residents gladly make way for car dealerships

Posted September 17, 2013
Updated September 19, 2013

— A south Durham neighborhood is set to be razed and replaced by an auto mall – and residents couldn't be happier.

The Durham City Council voted Monday to rezone the Kentington Heights neighborhood, off Fayetteville Road south of the Streets at Southpoint mall, from residential to commercial and annex the property into the city.

Residents have lobbied city officials for years for the rezoning as a way to increase their property values and sell their troubled homes to a commercial interest.

The neighborhood is plagued with a failing septic system and water quantity and quality issues.

"We don't cook with it, we don't drink it and it's really not the best water to take a bath with," resident Theadore Nicholson said.

Most residents buy jugs of water for most of their daily needs, Nicholson said.

Turned off by the water and sewer issues, many homeowners have abandoned their properties, leaving several vacant, dilapidated homes. Fewer than 15 of the 36 homes in Kentington Heights are occupied.

Hendrick Durham Automall Car dealership buys out south Durham neighborhood

"It's time for us to go. We should have been gone," Nicholson said.

The rezoning and annexation cleared the way for Hendrick Auto Group to purchase the neighborhood for a new auto mall. Hendrick plans to move its operation from South Dillard Street in downtown Durham to the new site, which will include eight to 10 dealerships.

"It will be an automobile park similar to the one in Cary," said Lewis Cheek, an attorney for Hendrick Auto Group.

Nicholson and his wife went house hunting Tuesday, and he said the buyout has given him a sense of relief he hasn't felt in years.


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  • TriangleMommy Sep 20, 2013

    I may be way off base, but I thought the whole point of Autopark Drive (also right by Southpoint) was that it was to be an Auto Mall? But right now there are only the Lexus and Honda dealerships (10 years after it was built).

    I am all for helping the residents of this neighborhood, it sounds like it needs to be done. However I would think it could be a better use of space.

  • thewayitis Sep 19, 2013

    Thanks for the info, pause.

  • Good Bye WRAL Sep 18, 2013

    Regarding the Herndon/Barbee Rd intersection: There are plans for a roundabout to replace the off-angled intersection. It's in early planning stages and at least a year off, if approved. Yes, this needs to be fixed.

  • thewayitis Sep 18, 2013

    LOL, the traffic increases won't affect me -- I've already moved out of that area and glad for it. Still own a home near Parkwood, however. Maybe this will improve the property value -- all those folks who will be happy to pay a premium to be near a car dealership. ;-)

    Herndon and Fayetteville near the mall is an accident waiting to happen. Hope they'll at least put a stoplight in there.

  • SomewhereLeftOfRTP Sep 18, 2013

    I'm glad that the residents will be able to move somewhere where they'll have better water quality. I just hope it isn't anywhere nearby -- between 751 South and a few dozen new acres of impermeable surface from this development, you sure won't be finding much good water around here.

  • Good Bye WRAL Sep 18, 2013

    I live near there and glad to see the change. Traffic is not that bad, except at Christmas time. At rush hour, it's bad everywhere around there, same as most of the Triangle. Too bad the Chevy dealer is moving out of downtown, though, but that's not where their business is.

  • Jack Flash Sep 18, 2013

    I bristled at the headline, but this actually sounds like a great deal all around, like TaxMan said. I think it's pretty sad and selfish, thewayitis, that you care more about how possible traffic increases will inconvenience you than you do about people not having access to safe drinking water.

    Separately, I'm kind of excited about what possibilities will open up downtown when Hendrick moves out. Time was I would worry about the loss of stable commerce there, but there is so much attention being pumped into that area right now, the potential positives outweigh the possible negatives in my mind.

  • xylem01 Sep 18, 2013

    @thewayitis - IT IS NOT!

  • st5937 Sep 18, 2013


  • Tax Man Sep 18, 2013

    Great deal. Proper use of property, many property taxes, clean water will be piped in along with sewer, hundreds of well paid jobs. Win Win. And the folks leaving the area will get a lot more for their property than they could sell it for on the open market. Hendrick runs a tight ship and this will be a successful business area. Also lots of jobs in the construction of the car dealerships. Good deal!