Liggett Buildings Could Be Key In Redeveloping Downtown Durham
Posted January 2, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
DURHAM — TheLiggettbuildings take up an entire city block on Main Street -- more than 800,000 square feet of potential. City leaders inDurhamsay this real estate is the key to redeveloping downtown.
In seven historic buildings, Liggett sees the possibility of $100 million worth of development. The company is considering a plan that would include converting the buildings into offices, apartments, condos and a parking deck.
"Liggett helped to build this town when it was tobacco, and now they have an opportunity with the property they are sitting on to rebuild into something new and exciting for downtown," says Bill Kalkhoff ofDowntown Durham, Inc.
The city sees the project as a way to link the Brightleaf Square area and the Civic Center's art district inside the downtown loop.
"Right now, those vacant buildings are seen as a barrier to people because of the lack of activity," says Gregory Payne of the City Department of Economic Development. "So to join those and to make it feel like one downtown area is really important."
There is one sticking point. The city wants to use one of the buildings for a transportation hub for buses, taxis and trains. There is some concern the noise and smell could scare away any residential development plans.
"The transit hub there would be an important asset to all of downtown," Payne says.
Redeveloping Liggett is part of Durham's vision for downtown.Durham's Central Parkand the American Tobacco Warehouse are also on the list.
"If we can get all three of those projects completely, I don't think you will recognize downtown Durham in three to five years," Kalkhoff says.
City officials admit it will be difficult to absorb all of the available space between the American Tobacco Warehouse and the Liggett buildings. They say it will be a gradual process.