NC Mutual building in Durham gets makeover to fuel startup business opportunities

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The evolving Durham skyline is a mix of modern designs and legacy structures. One of the most familiar to longtime residents is the NC Mutual building, where an extreme makeover is underway inside.

Developer Carl Webb gave ABC11 a tour, beginning with the lowest level inside the rebranded Tower at Mutual Plaza. That's where you'll find Provident 1898, a coworking community where business owners, artists and other creative people can rent spaces ranging from desks to offices starting at $250 a month.

"It's really a plug and play situation. All of our offices are fully furnished," said Webb. "So it really helps to break down the barriers of access into business startups, especially for low and underfunded businesses. Unfortunately those tend to be minority-led businesses."

Upstairs, the tower's tenants include Perkins+Will, where architects have designs on the old police headquarters next door. Michael Stevenson said the firm moved from RTP to the tower due in part to the legacy of Black Wall Street, a short walk from the tower. His team wants affordable housing as part of their proposal for the property.

"At least the 80 minimum unit that the city is asking for. We're looking for a way that integrates that housing into a beautiful new development that really augments the entire area," Stevenson said.

Webb envisions a much wider footprint for related developments that his firm will control.

"This is a district that will celebrate diversity and inclusion," said Webb. "This is a district that will have mixed-income housing, that we believe is so vitally important,"

Webb says the building, now 76 percent occupied, will continue the legacy of the men who established black business in this part of Durham while looking ahead to the future.
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