When the City of Durham decided to undertake its most ambitious neighborhood revitalization project to date, it chose McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. to lead the effort. From late fall of 2009 through the summer of 2010, a community based revitalization planning process for the 120-acre Southside Project Area was undertaken. The goal of the plan was to jump start the revitalization of a long declining area that had become a neighborhood of last resort. The result was a consensus-based master plan that identified three phases of rental development and three phases of homeownership development with the intent of serving a broad range of incomes.
Within the 125-acre project area, there were more vacant and deteriorated properties than available local and federal funding could feasibly address. To address this challenge, the team adopted a strategy to create market demand in neighborhood of the City where none previously existed, even though it was directly adjacent to the resurging downtown and the American Tobacco development. In total, the plan called for several phases of rental development by McCormack Baron Salazar and for-sale homes constructed on over 100 scattered sites throughout the community.
The new rental community, called the Lofts at Southside, anchors the northern half of the community, reinforcing connections to downtown and establishing an “entrance” to the community. The first phase of rental development is complete and the second phase began construction in June, 2016. The $21 million first phase consists of 132 garden, townhouse and live/work apartments. Eighty of the apartments are affordable and the balance are unrestricted/market rate. The second phase has 85 apartments, with 58 set-aside as affordable and 27 rented at market rates.
Homeownership opportunities at Southside, called the “Bungalows at Southside,” include 48 three- and four-bedroom homes. A majority of the homes were reserved for moderate-income buyers who qualified for special financing through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and the City of Durham. Duke University and Duke Health Systems were also partners in this effort, providing eligible Duke employees with an additional $10,000 in down payment assistance.
While the public-private partnership provided for much-needed new affordable housing, the Southside effort was first and foremost a complete neighborhood revitalization strategy with the objective of creating a stable, market-driven community that will prosper over the long term.