Downtown Durham, Inc. recognizes the transformative possibilities a new civic building could have on adjacent properties if designed with the urban design principles as described in the Downtown Master Plan and the Downtown Retail Market Analysis.
The site chosen for the police headquarters is a key eastern gateway and provides an opportunity for knitting the revitalization and economic development of downtown to East Durham. A growing number of local businesses have located to the blocks between Fayetteville and Elizabeth because of the affordability and growth opportunity. The police headquarters must utilize sound urban design principles in order to complement this emerging neighborhood and to not diminish the ability of these businesses to succeed.
The development should help advance the pedestrian experience by making the walk safe and more interesting. Widely recognized principles show that “cities must not have any more than 25 linear feet of ‘dead’ space along their sidewalks.” (p. 77 Downtown Master Plan Update, 2008). In the concepts presented, the surface lot and parking deck occupy anywhere from 600 to 1,200 linear feet. DDI recognizes that all sites downtown need to account for automobile traffic but this can be accomplished by wrapping parking decks and making them internal to development parcels.
The DDI Board agrees that the public process in the development of these concepts was well intended but inadequate. The DDI Board is frustrated that many comments identified during this process were not incorporated into the design concepts.
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With ample public parking surrounding this site, the proposed creation of over 20,000 sf of surface parking is an inefficient use of valuable land and is better suited in a suburban office development.
The DDI Board respectfully requests the city to consider additional concepts which incorporate these urban design best practices which the community has been advocating for since the adoption of the 2000 Master Plan. DDI is confident that with partnership and a little more time, a civic building can be created that will continue downtown’s positive momentum to better connect East Durham.
Chair, Board of Directors
DDI president and CEO