DURHAM — Durham City Council members are hoping they can learn a lot from some of their counterparts in Virginia. Roanoke has some similarities with the Bull City. It's roughly the same size, has a similar population and both cities are having to deal with a reputation for crime.
The biggest difference between Durham and Roanoke is a vibrant downtown centered around an active farmer's market. Those city leaders, business leaders and elected officials who took the tour saw people flocking to a centralized downtown area. Durham leaders admit that currently the Bull City has many spread out pockets of development. Durham lacks a focal point.
"The main thing was that their master planning process has driven everything," said economic development manager Ted Abernathy "They created a master plan that was a market plan, a design plan and an action plan. They implemented it. And every five years, they update it again. I think in order to be successful in Durham, we have to have a fairly clear vision of what we want."
Speaking of master plans, Durham has just set aside $100,000 for a master plan for the downtown area. The trip to Roanoke was a kickoff for that effort. Planners are in the very early planning stages, but they plan to revitalize downtown Durham.