1,700 new housing units coming to downtown Durham area, including vacant Fayette Place

The Durham Housing Authority will build 1,700 new housing units in and near downtown, including on the rubble-strewn Fayette Place property in the historic Hayti neighborhood.

The DHA Board announced Friday it has approved $470 million in development plans for Fayette Place, the Forest Hill Heights public housing community, and the combined DHA Office and Criminal Justice Resource Center sites.

These three sites are the second phase of the housing authority’s DHA Downtown and Neighborhood Plan (DDNP). Combined, the sites total more than 37 acres.

“The preservation and creation of additional affordable housing units was paramount in redeveloping these sites,” housing authority CEO Anthony Scott said in a news release. “The proposals more than exceed the original targets that we established in the DDNP.”

DHA’s approval process

DHA requested proposals for the three sites last June. It received five proposals for Forest Hill Heights, five for Fayette Place and two for the DHA office/Criminal Justice Resource Center site, a DHA spokesperson told The News & Observer. DHA did not identify those who submitted proposals it did not choose.

Proposals were reviewed by an 11-person committee consisting of six DHA staff members, three city and county representatives, one community representative, and one DHA resident, the spokesperson confirmed. The top candidates were invited for interviews, and the committee re-ranked and sent the proposal to Scott for approval.

One of the proposals for Fayette Place, an old public housing community reduced to building foundations and crumbling steps between downtown and N.C. Central University, was from the Durham Global Equity Project known as “Hayti Reborn,” led by NCCU professor Henry McKoy.

The proposal reimagined the abandoned DHA-owned lot of 20 acres as an “equity education research and development park,” featuring a residential tower, Innovation Academy, office, grocery, retail, and surface parking totaling 266,6000 square feet, The N&O previously reported.

But the DHA development committee did not pick the Durham Global Equity Project as its partner.

Instead, both the Fayette Place and the DHA Office/Criminal Justice Resource Center sites were awarded to Durham Development Partners, a joint venture team of F7 International Development, Greystone Affordable Development, and Gilbane Development Company.

The Integral Group, LLC will be DHA’s partner for the redevelopment of the Forest Hill Heights community.

In an email, McKoy told The N&O he and his team finally received a notice Jan. 3 “stating whom they had went with,” he said.

Plans for affordable housing

The plan DHA approved includes at least 1,700 residential units and 135,000 square feet of non-residential space, including a new administrative office for the housing authority. Nearly 900 of the units will be priced for those making 30% to 80% of the Area Median Income, a primary goal of DHA.

The Durham Development Partners proposal for the Fayette Place and DHA Office/Criminal Justice Resource Center sites include over 1,000 mixed-income residential units, a 42,000-square-foot office building, and a 20,000-square-foot retail parcel across two sites.

Integral’s proposal includes 700 mixed-income residential units and 73,000 square feet of commercial space.

Next, the development partners will enter Master Development Agreement negotiations with DHA and Development Ventures Inc. for each site this year. Before anything is finalized, DHA and the partners will gather community input to determine the final plans for each site.

The Durham Report

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Laura Brache is a reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, covering the effects of changing demographics on minority communities across the region. She is a multilingual, multimedia journalist from North Carolina who was born in Massachusetts and raised in the Dominican Republic.


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