New affordable housing in Durham to be built on old Army site

Durham will get more affordable housing, this time in the city’s West End neighborhood southwest of downtown.

The Durham City Council approved a rezoning Monday night to allow the development of 65 multifamily housing units where a vacant U.S. Army Reserve center stands on 1228 Carroll Street. The center, which was built in 1967 and is now surrounded by a chain-link fence and barbed wire, has sat empty since 2012.

CASA, a nonprofit affordable housing developer based in Raleigh, develops housing for veterans, families, people with disabilities and workforce housing.

A former US Army Reserve center on Carroll Street in Durham’s West End will be redeveloped into affordable housing. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@newsobserver.com

CASA will create housing for 65 families and individuals who have experienced homelessness, said Jess Brandes, CASA’s senior director of real estate development. The first phase will be 16 units and could open in 2021. New residents of the permanent rental housing will be those living with disabilities.

The federal government will donate the 5.4-acre property near West Lakewood Avenue and Lyon Park to the nonprofit. The site is next to woods and a stream.

The new multi-family housing units won’t be more than two or three stories tall, and will be either apartments or multiplexes. CASA’s plan calls for garden apartments.

“You all are just a force for good,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said about CASA on Monday night.

Schewel said the city supported the nonprofit’s application to get the land from the federal government, which made affordable housing a goal for the site.

This development comes at a time when Durham is looking at increasing density in its urban tier, which includes the West End. It is also in an area that has seen redevelopment of homes and higher rents, The News & Observer previously has reported.

As Durham grows and new residents are more affluent than those already living here, the city has made affordable housing a priority, including Willard Street Apartments, which is being built at the corner of Jackson and Willard streets near the bus station..

And the City Council voted last year to sell the old Durham Police Department headquarters site on West Chapel Hill Street contingent on affordable housing being built there.

The former Army Reserve building on Carroll Street is surrounded by single-family homes and duplexes as well as other apartment complexes.

Brandes said the buildings will be demolished in a way to contain asbestos.

It is at the other end of Carroll Street from the childhood home of Pauli Murray, the Episcopal saint who was an activist, attorney, poet and the first African-American female Episcopal priest. Murray’s Fitzgerald family home at 906 Carroll St. is being turned into the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice, set to open in 2020.

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