Wal-Mart coming to Southpoint?

March 16, 2009 4:26:15 PM PDT
Homeowners in an aging subdivision next to Durham's Streets at Southpoint anticipate a big payday. They're living on land that's wanted by a developer of big box stores.According to published reports, WRS Realty Inc., a real estate investment firm in Mount Pleasant, S.C., has offered more than $20 million for land in the Kentington Heights neighborhood.

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That's just fine with resident Bessie Nicholson. From her front porch, she's seen lots of changes since moving to the neighborhood 30 years ago. She says the streets have potholes and are littered with broken glass.

"The community is going down instead of improving. All of us down here are getting no younger. We'd just like to get out from down here if it's the good Lord's will," she told Eyewitness News.

Nicholson and other residents got a letter saying homeowners could get big checks from a developer who reportedly wants to tear down all the houses and replace them with a Wal-Mart shopping center. Nicholson could get more than $300,000 for her property.

"If we could get more, we'd appreciate that, but by the Lord blessing us, if they're willing to pay that much, we'd be willing to go out with that," she said.

But not all the neighborhood residents share that view. Some - who didn't want to be named - told Eyewitness News that about 10 percent of the residents think the offer is low, and want to negotiate for more.

That's because the community sits right beside Renaissance Parkway, which takes shoppers to and from the Southpoint mall, a Target, and other stores.

Some Durham blog readers say a Wal-Mart would threaten existing businesses at the mall, and bring unwanted traffic. But Nicholson disagrees.

"That's what was said about Southpoint, the same thing. But Southpoint came in anyway, and so everybody is putting up with it, going on through with it. So that's the way it would be if they put a Wal-Mart or other facility down here," she said.

There's no word yet if the deal will go through. According to the letter sent to Nicholson, the developer doesn't need every single lot in the subdivision.


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