Durham News

Durham City Council moves parking deck forward

The Durham City Council agreed Monday to move forward with a downtown parking deck while exploring incorporating affordable housing.

City staff members will begin negotiations for design services for a new parking garage with about 800 spaces, up to 20,000 square feet for retail business and 5,000 square feet for office space.

“The motion has been amended to include the ability for the administration to investigate incorporating affordable housing within the development of this project and bring back different cost models” for the council to consider, said Harmon Crutchfield, interim director of the city’s Department of Transportation.

City Manager Tom Bonfield said the city hopes to hire an architectural firm to evaluate opportunities for adding housing. The final contract would be brought back to the council for approval.

The city has been planning the deck on Morgan Street, across from McDonald’s, on an existing surface lot. Under the existing plan, the deck would open in the summer of 2018. City staff, however, sought guidance from the City Council when one of the building deck bids included incorporating about 25 affordable housing units.

Adding housing could take an additional two years to do more studies and figure out how to move forward with a city-owned development that incorporates housing, city staffers said in April. Business owners and downtown advocates say a lack of parking is already hurting downtown. They urged the City Council to move forward with the current plan so the deck would be available by the summer 2018.

After a few meetings in which council members grappled with how to move forward, Bonfield said he decided the city should spend a little more money and negotiate a design contract that explores some of the affordable housing ideas.

The council’s consideration of the residential piece and related funding may delay the process slightly, depending how long it takes members to make a decision, he said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

In other business

Also Monday night, the City Council:

▪ Approved converting five areas surrounding the seven light-rail stations to “Compact Neighborhood Tiers.”

The areas are Leigh Village; Patterson Place; South Square/MLK Jr. Parkway (which has two proposed stations); the Erwin Road area, which has stations near Duke University and the VA Medical Center; and Alston Avenue.

Overall, the changes seek to update Durham’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides future development.

The Compact Neighborhood Tier was created to promote high-density development that integrates residential, retail and office spaces within walking distance of proposed transit stations. The Ninth Street area is the only community that is currently deemed a Compact Neighborhood Tier.

Following approval of the tiers, planners will work with residents to define the specific zoning regulations and land use maps in those areas. Those regulations and maps would then go before the Planning Commission and elected leaders.

▪ Postponed a hearing to rezone 40.95 acres for 122 single-family homes at 2417 W. Cornwallis Road to June 20. An attorney representing a local neighborhood experienced a death in the family and successfully sought to have the hearing delayed.

▪ Approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant to give Migrate Property 2 up to $100,000 to transform a Gulf gas and service station at 2201 Angier Ave. into a restaurant (See story page 1A).

The proposed project is expected to create six jobs and result in about $359,383 in private investment, but the company would need to invest at least $304,950 to qualify for the grant.

Managing member Cameo Voorhies said the company wants to renovate the space and lease it to a yet-to-be identified tenant.

▪  Approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant for up to $100,000 for Habitable Space to renovate a blighted building at 1200 W. Chapel St. into a restaurant and catering business. (See story page 1A)

The building was a Pure gas station in 1960s. The gas station closed in the 1990s. A church held services there between 2004 and 2013.

About $722,550 in private investment is planned for the project expected to create 37 jobs. The company needs to expend $270,000 to qualify for the grant.

Habitable Space’s managing partners Wendy Woods and Stacey Poston currently operate two successful restaurant, including NOSH at Jo Rae Cafe.