Durham News

Grant moves downtown Durham art corridor plan forward

Daytime view of an enhanced back side of Main Street from the Durham SmART Vision Plan, which presented a general vision of a downtown corridor that would be connected and enhanced with art projects. The actual art projects will be determined through requests for proposals and community selection processes.
Daytime view of an enhanced back side of Main Street from the Durham SmART Vision Plan, which presented a general vision of a downtown corridor that would be connected and enhanced with art projects. The actual art projects will be determined through requests for proposals and community selection processes. Courtesy of the Durham Arts Council

Sam Dalzell describes the downtown crosswalk area at the corner of of Ramseur and Corcoran streets as “transitory.”

And that’s being generous.

“It’s a bit of a dead zone,” Dalzell said of the intersection that sits between a city parking deck, a private parking lot and across from the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Dalzell, 26, who works at Scratch bakery, said maybe if the area was more pedestrian oriented it would be more appealing.

A recent grant awarded to the Durham Arts Council could bring some more life to the transition area between Durham’s City Center and the American Tobacco Campus and Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the the Durham Arts Council a $100,000 grant. The grant along with another $100,000 in local and state matching funds, will be used to solicit and create a wrap and artistic lighting for the parking deck and “ground plane” art, or a pattern on the pavement at the nearby railroad line and intersection.

The art will mark the first phase of the Durham SmART Vision Plan, which seeks to create an Arts and Entertainment Corridor across downtown.

“This is just our starting piece,” said Sherry DeVries, the council’s executive director.

The 10-year, $10 million SmART Vision proposal revealed in June 2015 seeks to pull foot traffic from the historic Durham Athletic Park to the modern DBAP by infusing surrounding public and private spaces with inviting art and streetscaping.

The proposed corridor would create a unified art and landscaping corridor, along with other enhancements, through the American Tobacco, City Central and Central Park districts. The $10 million figure is a rough estimate, with actual costs tied to concrete details yet to be worked out.

The larger proposal is just a vision plan, DeVries said, while the actual individual elements will be identified following requests for proposals and a community decision-making process.

The parking deck wrap and ground art, which has to be completed within a two-year time period that starts in August, were within an area identified as the top priority, DeVries said. The council will issue requests for proposals for the deck wrap and ground plane art around August.

“Then we will have a selection process, and we will have a community-input process to make our selections for what we want to do,” she said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

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