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Development Helps Durham's Hayti District Rise Again

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DURHAM — Haytiis an important part of the Bull City's past. Some people want to make sure it is an integral part of the city's future as well.

A hundred years ago, Hayti was a thriving African-American community. Then, it fell on hard times.

"It's just wonderful that we have so many people in the community that see what it can be again," says Dianne Pledger ofSt. Joseph's Historic Foundation.

Hayti is rising again.

The historic St. Joseph's Church is getting a new look. Once it is restored, it will serve as a performance hall for lectures, concerts and cotillions -- a centerpiece for the community.

Across the street, a new shopping center is going up.

"This whole community is going to benefit so much from all this activity, all this development, all this economic empowerment that's going on in this community," Pledger says.

Leora Jones has seen a lot of changes during her 45 years in Hayti. She is also glad people are willing to reinvest in her community.

"I think it's nice," she says. "It'll help a whole lot."

But not everyone is sold on the idea. Some neighbors worry the shopping center will just be another drug dealer hangout.

"I would like to see a lot of change, [but] I don't expect it," says Hayti resident Sandra Wilson. "It seems to me it's too slow, too late."

Renovations on the church should be completed early next year. Residents hope to have the area designated as an historic district in the near future.


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