Amid building boom, Durham looks for resident input

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The City of Durham wants input on the building boom

The Bull City is in a building boom.

The One Center Tower, currently under construction on Main Street, is expected to redefine Durham's skyline. The 27-story building will feature residential, retail and office space.

Hotels, condos, and apartments are also going up nearby. Tracking this progress and the city's growth is Nicole Thompson, CEO of Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI).

"It excites me," Thompson says. "Any time of day that I walk outside there are people milling about, walking into the stores."

She's the first woman and first African-American to lead the nonprofit organization. Her big task is managing the city's master development plan - an outline of projects slated for redevelopment and properties with that potential.

"I think with any city as you grow, the challenge is how do you accommodate that growth? How do you make sure the growth is done in a smart way and is sustainable?" Thompson mused.

Durham will add 25,000 people to the city and county area every five years, according to state economists. The county's current population sits just under 300,000 people.

Thompson says the master plan is also focused on transportation, connectivity, making the city walkable, and making it a destination point. The master plan is in its draft phase, and the DDI wants input.

Friday, business owners who've seen Durham's growth, and those who are now hip to it, gave ABC11 their thoughts.

"(What) we like about being downtown is the accessibility and the people around. One thing we want to continue to see is the green spaces and the affordability," Becky Hacker said. Hacker and her husband opened Pie Pusher's on Main Street five months ago.

Seven years ago, Dorian Bolden opened Beyu Caffee on Main Street. He hopes the city's plan maintains diversity within downtown's resident and business community.

"Durham has always been the coolest - that's what people love about Durham," Bolden said. "But that's the challenge how do we maintain that with the level of growth that we are experiencing and that part is scary."

The goal is to provide a guide to investors and developers on how the community wants to see Durham grow.

DDI will host two forums to get the public's input:

Temple Conference Room
302 West Main Street (Corner of Main and Market Streets)
March 23: 4 - 6 p.m.
March 30: 6 - 8 p.m.

You can view the city's master plan here. If you'd like to comment on the master plan, email
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