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Durham's Trendy Ninth Street Could Get Facelift

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham city planners are taking the first step this week to move forward with a project to rejuvenate one of Durham's trendiest areas.

The city is asking for the public's input on changes to Ninth Street, an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants that serves as a gathering spot for Duke University students and longtime Durham residents and draws out-of-towners.

Meetings are scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church.

For the past 15 years, the street has been on the city's list of renovation projects, but it got pushed back each year.

Local residents, such as John Schelp, already have an idea of some improvements they would like to see, including more sidewalks, more decorative streetlights and buffer zones between commercial development and neighborhoods.

"What we want to make sure what does not happen is that it goes corporate upscale," said Schelp, who lives on the fringe of Ninth Street.

The city's vision for the future, though, stretches well beyond Ninth Street. City planner Frank Duke said growth and development are starting to surround the area and that looking at how one affects the other is critical.

"Right now, a lot of the vacant land in the area is zoned industrial," Duke said. "The question is, 'Are those industrial uses the kind of uses you'd like to see?'"

It could still be months before the city planning commission has a plan for the City Council to approve.


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