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

EJP led a multi-disciplinary team to develop a comprehensive master plan, the Durham Downtown and Neighborhood Plan (DDNP) for 9 communities/properties owned by DHA, the City, and the County. EJP now provides technical assistance to implement the plan.


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.


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


“In the feedback from the selected developer, they talked about their interest in (local) history and making sure that they were doing something that was going to uplift that,” said Anthony Scott, the housing authority’s CEO, in an interview Monday. “That certainly has been an important aspect of this for me, as well.”


DHA’S APPROVAL PROCESS


DHA requested proposals 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 reranked and sent the proposal to Scott for approval.


“We were making a decision on all proposals that were being submitted based on a set of criteria that was pre-established,” Scott said. “It was fair and open to everyone.”


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


That proposal reimagined the vacant, DHA-owned lot of 20 acres as an “equity education research and development park.” The plan included a residential tower, Innovation Academy, an 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.


“We spent well over a year doing a lot of work with the community. We had several community sessions,” Scott said about the community’s requests for Fayette Place. “It was what defined what the DDNP was going to be, and each site had a specific kind of criteria that was developed as a result.”


Besides affordable housing units, one of the biggest requests from the community was to bring a grocery store. Scott said the winning proposal includes one, but did not specify which company.


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


“What we are seeing from the original plan and what developers are bringing back is what we know can actually get financed and built,” Scott said of DHA properties.


PLANS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING


The plan DHA approved has 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.


The development partners will negotiate agreements 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.


BY LAURA BRACHE

JANUARY 10, 2022

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/