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More apartments coming to downtown Durham’s ‘Innovation District’

Durham Innovation District

Jessica Brock, managing director of Longfellow, talks about the firm's two new buildings in downtown Durham: 200 and 300 Morris.
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Jessica Brock, managing director of Longfellow, talks about the firm's two new buildings in downtown Durham: 200 and 300 Morris.

Hundreds more apartments could be coming to downtown Durham — this time near the city’s “Innovation District,” an area that has seen million of dollars of investment in lab and office space for tech and health companies.

Greystar, a multifamily developer with projects across the country, submitted plans earlier this year to the Durham City-County Planning Department for a project that would include 266 apartments and around 6,000 square feet of retail space.

The six-story building, which is called the Elan Innovation District in the plans, would be on property near the intersection of Liggett Street and Fernway Avenue.

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Courtesy of Durham City-County Planning Department

Greystar bought the property — currently a parking lot — for about $3.4 million last year, according to county records.

Elan is a name that Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar has used before in the area. The company, among several other projects, built the Elan City Center apartments on North Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh and then sold it for more than $50 million last year.

A spokeswoman for Greystar declined to comment on the project. Architecture firm JDavis, which has offices in Raleigh and Philadelphia, is listed as the designer of the building in the plans.

The “Innovation District” is the brainchild of Boston-based developer Longfellow Real Estate Partners. The district could one day become a 15-plus-acre campus that will add more than a million square feet of office and lab space north of the downtown core, if long-term plans come to fruition.

So far, the district is made up of two new twin buildings at 200 and 300 Morris St. as well as five previously existing buildings. Co-working office provider WeWork is taking up space in the 300 Morris building, while the 200 Morris building has been completely leased by Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The Greystar project would add a new, nearby living option for the potential hundreds of employees that one day might work in the area, as well as the rest of downtown.

Currently, there are hundreds of apartments being built across downtown Durham, an area that has seen an influx of investment, residents and highly-paid workers in recent years.

According to Downtown Durham Inc., 2,551 apartments have been built in downtown Durham — and another 1,891 are either planned or under construction. That number includes the Elan Innovation District project.

Of those apartments in the pipeline, 82 of them, or 4.3%, are being targeted towards people with modest or low incomes. The rest are market rate.

Last year, rents across the Triangle grew faster than the rest of the nation, The N&O previously reported. That surge came after two years of rents growing slower than the national average, according to apartment data company RealPage.

In 2018, rents for multifamily apartments in the Triangle grew by 3.8% to an average rent of $1,105 per month, according to RealPage. The national average was 3.3%.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.
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