Downtown Durham to rev up

Staff WriterMay 23, 2007 

  • WHAT: The "Durham Rising" celebration. Russell Thompkins Jr. and The New Stylistics will headline, performing hits such as "Break Up to Make Up" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New."

    A fireworks and light show will end the night.

    WHEN: June 23, from 4 to 10 p.m.

    WHERE: CCB Plaza in the heart of downtown Durham.

    WHY: The party will mark the completion of downtown streetscape improvements and more than $1 billion in public and private investment downtown.

    HOW: About $70,000 was raised for the event, $10,000 from the city and the rest from corporate sponsors.

— A soulful bash capped with a fireworks display will be held June 23 to coincide (cross fingers here) with the completion of downtown Durham's street and sidewalk renovations.

Three months late and $4 million (40 percent) over budget, the streetscape project is the missing link between the old dilapidated downtown and a city-center renaissance, many say.

Bill Kalkhof, president of the booster group Downtown Durham Inc., said more than $1 billion in public and private investment has been made downtown or will be made by 2011.

Brick sidewalks and freshly paved, realigned streets will provide the appropriately spruced-up setting.

Jon Wilson of Kimley-Horn and Associates, the company the city hired to manage the project, guaranteed at a Tuesday morning news conference the streetscape would be finished by June 23.

But after months of delays caused by weather and underground obstructions, Kalkhof said, "It will be a little bit of a race."

Mayor Bill Bell said the $14.2 million project will be worth it.

"Once it's done, people won't worry about how long it took," he said.

Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 956-2433 or matt.dees@newsobserver.com.

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