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Developers jump at chance to work in downtown Durham

Posted June 18, 2008

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— The amount of residential space downtown is expected to more than double in the next two to three years, and developers are jumping at the chance to get in on the expected boom.

Andy Rothschild left his medical practice several years ago to develop real estate in Durham. The founder of Scientific Properties is transforming the former Golden Belt textile mill on East Main Street into a mix of offices, shops, restaurants, artist studios and 37 loft apartments.

"I thought there was just so much potential here," Rothschild said. "It's already a cultural capital, a dining capital, an arts capital (and) an education capital, and now we are just bringing that all into the downtown."

Alexandro Washburn, the director of urban design for the New York City Planning Department, decided to invest in downtown Durham while working at a previous job in the American Tobacco complex.

"It's that chance to be part of the betterment of a place," said Washburn, who is developing the Trinity Lofts condominium complex in the former Cal-Tone Paints building, at the corner of Trinity and Washington streets.

"Even some of the best cities in the world don't have this kind of proximity of all these urban attractors," he said.

Bill Kalkhof, the president of Downtown Durham Inc., said the success of American Tobacco, West Village and other projects has encouraged developers. He said he expects the number of residential units downtown to increase from 900 to between 2,200 and 2,500 within three years.

"The projects that got built sell. The projects that got built for apartments lease. We are always in the mid- to high-90s of occupancy (rates)," Kalkhof said.

There's so much interest in the area that a downtown seminar for Realtors on Wednesday attracted almost four times the number of participants expected.

"I don't even think it's even a question of will it be a success. It's a success now, and it's going to be a big, big success," Washburn said.

Most of the residential units in the area are rentals because developers obtained tax credits that require a redeveloped property to provide rental housing for a specified number of years.

WRAL.com's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co., is the developer of the American Tobacco project.


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  • NHFD 4030 Jun 18, 2008

    I can't believe people still cry about Durham. Racial tension? Where? You have got to me kidding me. There isn't anything that is isolated to just Durham having to do with a controversial race issue......that was a stupid remark. And instead of repeating what you've heard on the street, take a venture into these parts of Durham that are getting transformed.......its a really nice area.

    Also, FWIW, I have been keeping tabs on crime this year. I have seen just as many robberies/shootings from Raleigh as I have from Durham. Now you tell me whats wrong with that picture? No!!! Not perfect Raleigh!!

    Durky durrr

  • Bon Viveur Jun 18, 2008

    Lord knows, these Durham Cheerleaders who have bought buildings cheap will say ANYTHING to make it look like Durham is a good place to be. Unfortunately, the crime record shows otherwise. DUrham is a pit or crime, murder, and racial tension. I feel sorry for anyone fooled into buying into this propaganda.

  • PowderedToastMan Jun 18, 2008

    The city still needs to do something about the amount of crime in Durham...the # of people who get robbed at gun point in the Duke campus area is insane.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 18, 2008

    This is the best Durham-related news I've heard since the American Tobacco Complex was announced. This is awesome news for a part of Downtown Durham. Downtown Up-Scale Residential housing tends to drive the bad element further out because it creates more foot traffic. The "bad element" can't get away with their crimes when there are so many potential witnesses. First the Downtown Condos, then more high-end restaurants and bars. This draws people that are less likely to be commiting crimes, and drives out much of the bad element.

    Best news I've heard out of Durham in ages.

  • foetine Jun 18, 2008

    another house ad for American Tobacco.