On June 7 at noon, just outside City Hall, a press conference was held that had great attendance from about 75 persons, including CAN supporters, many members of the media, 8 diverse speakers and even 4 (of 7) City Council members. Several ERUUFians were in the crowd. The speakers discussed how the upcoming decisions that Council will be making on the reuse of the current Police HQ site of 4+ acres needed to include land for more affordable housing downtown.
In addition to CAN, the event was co-sponsored by the Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit, People's Alliance, Duke Memorial UMC (across from the site) and some concerned residents. The theme of the press conference was "look in the mirror" and make the reuse of this important site look like the entire community. Many held small mirrors during the event.
And at 1 pm, a City Council Work Session began, in the Committee Room on the 2nd floor of City Hall. While they had a full agenda to work through, the Council began discussion of the Police site at about 2:25 pm. The discussion continued for about 45 minutes. At the end, they endorsed proceeding with the process of development of the site with guidelines that CAN supports: that the most important use for part of this site is at least 80 units of affordable housing. They also noted that this could be accomplished in a number of ways, including the City receiving proposals from a master developer who might also develop other housing, office, retail, open space and other uses on the site.
While this whole action was pulled together in just a week, it seemed to accomplish CAN's goals. It's good to know that when we pull together, even on short notice, that we can accomplish a lot.
Background and reason for Durham CAN action:
By the end of 2018 it is estimated that there will be about 3000 dwelling units in West Downtown. Four years ago the City Council adopted the policy goal of having at least 15% of all housing near transit stations be affordable. By this measure, there should be around 450 affordable units in the west downtown neighborhood, home to the downtown station. But today there are only 177 such units, with the possible addition of the 82 units at the Jackson Street project. That means there is a shortfall of ~200 affordable units, with no prospect of more affordable shelter going forward.
Submitted by Dick Hails