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Durham City, County Approve American Tobacco Funding

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DURHAM, N.C. — A major development project for downtown Durham gets a green light as city and county leaders approved parking plans Monday to help the American Tobacco complex get off the ground.

Monday evening, the Durham City Council voted in favor of spending nearly $24 million to build a parking deck and pay the developer cash and economic incentives.

Earlier in the day, Durham County commissioners voted unanimously to contribute $19.5 million to build public parking garages for the complex, which will include offices, retail and residential space.

"For those out there who think the city and county don't get along, this is an outward and visible sign of how we can get along," county manager Mike Ruffin said.

Many believe the project is what the Bull City needs to boost its economy.

"It is unusual for counties to participate in redevelopment of a downtown area," said MaryAnn Black, county commission chair. "We are into the human services, but we so strongly believethat redeveloping downtown will grow our community and attract additional businesses to the community. I've been very pleased with the number of businesses coming into Durham County."

The project, which is being developed by WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co., is expected to bring more than 3,000jobs to the area.

Politicians and businessmen agree that the historic partnership has been a long time coming.

"It is a great relief to get here. There is a lot of work, left to happen. The city staff and the county staff have done a great job to date, and there is going to be a heck of a lot of work that needs to happen over the next 60 days. We look forward to getting that process completed and then beginning the work," said Mike Hill of Capitol Broadcasting.

Disagreements about parking threatened to stop the deal.

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