Local News

Durham looks to revitalize Southside area

Posted October 9, 2009 5:19 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2009 6:31 a.m. EDT

— When Ray Eurquhart looks at the Southside area of Durham, he sees three things: home, history and hope.

Eurquhart is one of the neighbors working with the city to bring new life to the 125-acre area near downtown.

“We want a wonderful product here,” Eurquhart said. “We want more shops, more social entertainment…cultural things,” he said.

Larry Jarvis, Durham’s assistant director of Community Development, said the area is the city’s highest priority when it comes to neighborhood redevelopment.

“I don’t think that you would find any place in Durham where you have the concentration of disinvestment that you have here,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said some parts of the neighborhood need to come down, including properties on about 20 acres of Southside in an area known as Rolling Hills.

The city is spending nearly $6 million to buy homes there.

Community lender and developer Self-Help Credit Union has already purchased more than 80 properties it will tear down or renovate. Self-Help expects to start seeing short-term results in the next 18 to 24 months.

“There’s also a very significant opportunity to have a successfully project here,” Jarvis said.

Developers are also looking at ideas for the former J.A. Whitted Junior High School in the area. Turning it into a community center could cost several million dollars. The building has had a problem with asbestos.

The city has contracted with a developer to study what to do in the Southside area. Jarvis estimates it will take about eight to 10 years for the revitalization to be completed.