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At a Monday night Durham Congregations, Associations & Neighborhoods meeting, five of the six City Council members present agreed to support repurchasing the project. Mayor Bill Bell wasn’t able to attend.
Councilman Eddie Davis was uncomfortable making such a commitment at the meeting, he said. He thinks the property needs to be back under local control, he said, but wasn’t prepared to give the straight yes or no answer that Durham CAN wanted.
“I just need to have more information to deal with not only that request but other (budget) requests from the Durham Housing Authority,” he said.
At the meeting, Durham CAN also planned to ask Campus Apartments to donate the property, but a company representative didn’t attend.
Campus Apartments issued a statement that was very similar to the one it issued after Durham CAN held a rally at the property in July.
“When we purchased the property, we had every intention to develop affordable student housing in partnership with N. C. Central University; however, the original plan did not come to fruition,” the statement says. “Campus Apartments then made a significant investment to remove the dilapidated structures and secure the property. We understand the community’s desire to develop the property and appreciate local community feedback.”
City Councilman Steve Schewel, the council’s liaison on the DHA board, is confident the city will help DHA, if necessary, to make the purchase, he said.
Mark Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org
Once the property is acquired, surrounding neighborhoods and other members of the community will be involved in the process to determined what will happen to the property.
“Those folks want to be part of the discussion and need to be part of the discussion,” Schewel said.
City and DHA officials say the project will involve affordable housing, but it’s too soon to say how or when the property would be redeveloped.
“The development of Fayette Place has to be thought of in concert with the redevelopment of the other large housing authority existing communities,” Schewel said.
City Manager Tom Bonfield said the issue will likely come before the City Council at the end of May or June. Specifics haven’t been discussed, but he expects the city will be asked to cover the entire purchase price. The money would most likely come from the city’s general fund balance.
It’s too soon to say whether the city would loan or grant DHA the money, but the city wants to be a partnership in the redevelopment, Bonfield said.
“The big thing is not missing this window of returning the property to public control,” he said.
HISTORY OF FAYETTE PLACE
For about 35 years, the property housed the 200-unit Fayetteville Street public housing complex. In the early 2000s, the Durham Housing Authority started to convert the property into Fayette Place, a low-income housing development funded with tax credits. The development never happened.
In 2007, Campus Apartments agreed to pay the DHA $4 million for Fayette Place. Part of the agreement allowed DHA to repurchase the property if Campus Apartments failed to rent at least 168 beds to N.C. Central University students or provide housing for low-income individuals.
The property was never developed.
Residents ask Durham City Council to buy back, develop abandoned land
Posted April 24,2017 Updated April 25
DURHAM, N.C. — There was a packed house Monday night as local organizations and concerned residents met with Durham city leaders to discuss nearly 20 acres of abandoned land.
Members of Durham’s Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods, known as Durham CAN, are asking the Durham Housing Authority to exercise what they believe is its right to regain control the property.
In 2007, Durham housing forced those living in Fayette Place to leave their homes and, several years later, all of the buildings were leveled.
Several dozen people and neighborhood associations want to see the land developed into affordable housing.
“There are people all throughout the city that are coming out today to make sure that there is justice for this community,” said Ivan Parra with Durham CAN. “This used to be the center of the African-American community, many years ago, and we want to rebuild this community with local residents.”
The Fayette Place property was purchased by Philadelphia-based development company Campus Apartments in 2007. The company said in the past that it shares the community’s desire to develop the property and that they have pursued viable opportunities.
Following calls from CAN last year to build affordable housing, Campus Apartments said in a statement last year that they had plans of developing affordable housing at the site in partnership with North Carolina Central University, but the plan did not work out.
Five out of six city council members in attendance Monday night said they would be in favor of allocating money from the city budget to buy the land back from Campus Apartments, unless the company agrees to donate the land.
Durham CAN seeks update on abandoned Fayette Place property
BY VIRGINIA BRIDGES email@example.com April 20, 2017
DURHAM- Delegates of Durham Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods plan to meet with Fayette Place stakeholders Monday to discuss the stalled project.
Durham CAN delegates will meet with city officials and Anthony Scott, chief executive officer of the the Durham Housing Authority, lead organizer Ivan Parra said. Executives from the for-profit, Philadelphia-based Campus Apartments have been invited, but haven’t confirmed, he said.
The 7 p.m. meeting will be held at Monument of Faith Church at 900 Simmons St. and is open to the public.
“Campus Apartments have demonstrated they lack interest and vision for this property and our community,” Clarence Laney, pastor of Monument of Faith Church, said in a news release.
“Their lack of interest has left the largest undeveloped property in the city,” he said. “One can be sure this kind of neglect doesn’t happen at the rest of their luxury properties across the U.S.”
The future of Fayette Place will be the focus of the meeting, but CAN leaders will also unveil results of a recent neighborhood audit they performed and ask the city to address a series of items it identified.
For about 35 years, the 20-acre property housed the 200-unit Fayetteville Street public housing complex. In the early 2000s, DHA officials started to convert it into Fayette Place, a low-income housing development funded with tax credits. The development never happened.
In 2007, Campus Apartments agreed to pay the housing authority $4 million for Fayette Place. The agreement allowed the housing authority to repurchase the property if Campus Apartments failed to rent at least 168 beds to N.C. Central University students or to provide housing for low-income individuals.
The housing authority must exercise its option by August 2017.
Dan Hudgins, chair of the authority’s board, said last summer that the agency has asked the city for help repurchasing the property.
In July, CAN held a press conference calling for the authority to reacquire the vacant property, now marked by crumbling foundation slabs behind a chain-link fence. CAN officials have been meeting with authority officials monthly since then, Parra said.
A neighborhood watch signs stands guard over the slabs that remain of the Fayette Place public housing project in the Hayti district. Durham CAN would like to see affordable housing tried again on the site.
Mark Schultz mschultz@newsobserver,com