Boomtowns: South Durham's growth leads to need for new schools, houses and mall expansion

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Thursday, July 27, 2023
Boomtowns: South Durham growth leads to need for new schools, houses
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While parts of Durham such as downtown are going through renewal and revitalization, on the south side, there are entire neighborhoods going from the ground up.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Parts of Durham such as downtown are going through renewal and revitalization, however, on the south side, there are entire neighborhoods being constructed from the ground up.

While not its own town per se, "South Durham" is becoming a Boomtown in its own right -- between Research Triangle Park down the road and Streets at Southpoint serving as anchors in this community, it's becoming a hub in the region.

Durham County has already seen rapid population growth, growing 27% since 2010.

It's prompted Durham Public Schools to do some rezoning to fill the gap, but it has also gotten bonds and approval for some new schools to be constructed.

On South Roxboro Street, there's a new school being built. Murray-Massenberg Elementary is being named in honor of two female Durham civil rights pioneers. It's also fitting that the District's Director of Building Services is also a proud Durham Public Schools alum.

"I think that me being here as a licensed architect as a product of Durham Public Schools, building these schools will hopefully give a future sense of pride for those matriculating through Durham Public Schools," said Fredrick Davis.

Davis is working on several projects in the next few years, including the Murray-Massenberg Elementary School, which will eventually house 800 students in the 135,000-square-foot facility.

"As we look at 21st-century learning, we want to make sure we have an environment that is conducive to the future leaders of America," Davis said.

That growth didn't happen overnight. When Streets at Southpoint opened 20 years ago, they were the anchor of a then mostly-empty area.

"I think it's probably more foresight you know, tremendous growth in the market, you know we're enjoying it now, it's 2023, and I think you go back and you can see what was going to happen," said Patrick Anderson.

Since then, it's become a sprawling mall featuring restaurants, a theater, and virtually every store you can think of.

Now, it has gotten approval for rezoning for expansion in the next few years. The plan for the next decade could see apartments, a hotel, and more retail, creating a downtown-type area for south Durham.

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"There are tremendous things happening, a lot of people moving here, so we realize we want to continue to be successful for the next 30 years," Anderson said.

Not far down the road, new homes are popping up left and right.

A blank canvas of land not far from Southpoint is being developed by Tri Pointe Homes. "To find any available land in an area like this is very unusual, so we're very lucky to have it be able to work out for us," said James Flanagan.

Tri Pointe Homes is adding to the population boom, with a plan for 102 townhomes with driveways. It is also installing streets, sewers, water, and infrastructure.

It will begin selling the homes in 2025.

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