Durham, N.C. — 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.
"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.