Could old Durham PD headquarters become housing units?

Michael Perchick Image
Thursday, June 7, 2018
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Could old Durham PD building become housing?

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- Located less than a mile from downtown on West Chapel Hill Street, affordable-housing advocates said they believe the Durham Police Headquarters property is a location for more affordable housing units.

The city-owned property will soon be vacant, as Durham Police plan to move in the coming months.

Some think the 4.4-acre property could serve many needs.

"Housing is a human right. To have affordable, decent housing, that's the basis of everything else. Jobs, good health, bringing up family, safe communities," said Raymond Eurquhart, a member of Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit, and a lifelong Durham resident.

He was one of the dozens of people gathered outside Durham City Hall on Thursday afternoon, calling on leaders to transform the property into 80 housing units, with hopes to affect even more throughout the city.

"I have colleagues who have had their cars broken into where they live and things like that, but that's where they can afford the rent. That's where they can afford to rent a house or an apartment. And so if I can't find a house or a neighborhood to raise my family that I can afford, I'm going to move someplace else," said Ketty Thelemaque, a Durham educator who was the final speaker at the rally.

She said believes the lack of affordable-housing options creates difficulties in attracting and keeping teachers.

"To hear the pain when they talk about well we don't make enough money where we can feel safe when we're preparing our lessons for our students. Where we can truly enjoy our city," said Thelemaque.

Many people who gathered outside City Hall made their way inside Council Chambers for Thursday's Work Session.

"The public engagement piece is really, really important to get a sense of the intensity and desire. Events like this are also really important because you get a sense of where our advocates in the community stand, and also where people who are directly impacted," said Council Member Charlie Reece, one of several Council Members who attended the rally.

Outside the Jackson Street project, advocates are concerned about a lack of planning - noting a shortfall of affordable units when compared to Council's goal from four years ago of having 15 percent of all housing near transit stations be affordable.

"The folks here have said to us as a City Council, is the Police Headquarters is the last, best place to do that kind of affordable housing in and around downtown Durham. And I think we should do that," said Reece.

Three of the main options being discussed for the property are to sell it outright, sell it with conditions, or subdivide it.

During the Work Session, council members agreed to first prioritize affordable housing, then maximizing the value of the property, while leaving open for discussion other uses for money from a potential sale.