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Durham Development Faces Possible Foreclosure

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DURHAM — A Durham community that has seen its share of failed improvement projects is struggling to keep another alive. The city says it may foreclose on Rolling Hills, an affordable housing project, because developers are not paying off a loan.

There was great hope for Rolling Hills, but now the development could be in trouble. There is a shopping center around the corner that owes thousands in back taxes. A fast-food restaurant across the street run by the Hayti community went out of business. But there are also success stories.

Beverly Mangum is one. A single mother of two, she says the affordable housing project was the only way to own her own home.

"I think I got a very good deal and I'm happy with my home," Mangum says. "I really am and I'm happy with the area too."

The problem is the city is not happy with Rolling Hills. In 1995, the Southeast Durham Development Corp. borrowed $860,000 from the city. The corporation promised to build 56 homes for low-income residents and to pay back the loan by this summer. There are only seven homes occupied and two others for sale. The city says it might foreclose on the developers.

"We're hoping that they're not pulling the rug out from under us," says Eric Michaux, the developer's attorney. He says the project is more difficult than anyone expected. The developers say they just want more time to make it work.

"We have presented a new plan to the city outlining a new sales schedule which is far more conservative than what we initially did," Michaux says.

Mangum is optimistic. "If the request is honored then, you know, maybe more people will have a chance to move up here or maybe they'll move the process along a little faster," she says.

The city says it is just considering foreclosure at this point. A final decision has not been made.