Local News

Residents ask Durham City Council to buy back, develop abandoned land

Posted April 24
Updated April 25

Years of frustration over a piece of land that has remained undeveloped for over a decade and concerns about the development of affordable housing in Durham will be addressed at a public meeting Monday night.

— There was a packed house Monday night as local organizations and concerned residents met with Durham city leaders to discuss nearly 20 acres of abandoned land.

Members of Durham’s Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods, known as Durham CAN, are asking the Durham Housing Authority to exercise what they believe is its right to regain control the property.

In 2007, Durham housing forced those living in Fayette Place to leave their homes and, several years later, all of the buildings were leveled.

Several dozen people and neighborhood associations want to see the land developed into affordable housing.

“There are people all throughout the city that are coming out today to make sure that there is justice for this community,” said Ivan Parra with Durham CAN. “This used to be the center of the African-American community, many years ago, and we want to rebuild this community with local residents.”

The Fayette Place property was purchased by Philadelphia-based development company Campus Apartments in 2007. The company said in the past that it shares the community’s desire to develop the property and that they have pursued viable opportunities.

Following calls from CAN last year to build affordable housing, Campus Apartments said in a statement last year that they had plans of developing affordable housing at the site in partnership with North Carolina Central University, but the plan did not work out.

Five out of six city council members in attendance Monday night said they would be in favor of allocating money from the city budget to buy the land back from Campus Apartments, unless the company agrees to donate the land.


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  • Matt Smithe Apr 25, 4:28 p.m.
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    Government develop housing? When has that ever turned out well? Ever?

    Jewel Lee - Awesome points. The whole idea of property rights seems to be lost to many.

  • Jewel Lee Apr 25, 1:00 p.m.
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    What a bunch of ignorance. What kind of fools have a problem with vacant land? The land is not "abandoned property". It has an owner. And as long as the owner pays the taxes on it who the hell is anyone to tell them that they can not leave the land undeveloped? The OWNER has every right to leave it un-developed for the next 200 years if they so well please. Imagine how hard land will be to find land by then. The level of ignorance of these people is mind blowing to me. An empty plot of land will do far less harm than the people who who will reside on it if it is developed. But go ahead, throw up a bunch of cheap overnight built affordable housing units on it and watch the violence, drugs, traffic, noise and cockroaches take over your precious neighborhood.

  • Paul Edwards Apr 25, 12:55 a.m.
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    Reminds me of the failed Rolling Hills endeavor years back. We, the Durham taxpayers spent millions of dollars on that boondoggle. I feel the same thing will happen at Fayette Place. The people who want that developed chip in your dollars to accomplish that task. I don't hear anyone reaching for their wallet!

  • Renee Warren Apr 24, 10:21 p.m.
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    It will take time before anything goes up in it's place. While it's in limbo, why not let the neighborhood work w/ the land owners in allowing the land to produce food. A community garden brings people together in a good sense, a great purpose. It's a temporary solution but one that would serve both community and land owners very well 'til plans are reworked for construction.