Homeowners fearful NCCU eyeing their homes for expansion plan

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Almost exactly three years ago, Rich and Charles Kelley got married by the pool at their house, which is right across the street from North Carolina Central University.

They've been fixing up the home since, to get it exactly how they want it. Their updates include knocking down walls, adding a mantel above the fireplace and installing a tin ceiling above the kitchen.

"It provided us an opportunity to kind of make the kitchen a space, even though it's part of a larger space," Rich Kelley said.

But now, the university's master plan appears to show the couple's home on Burlington Avenue and Lincoln Street will be part of the school's new athletic fields listed as "property acquisition."

READ MORE: See NCCU's master plan here (.pdf)

"This is a neighborhood," Rich Kelley said. "This is a home. It's not just a piece of property that they're going to build another building on top of."

Charles Kelley agreed.

"I really am not interested in selling it at all," he said. "We just put so much love and emotion into this place, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. This feels like a part of who we are."

Rich Kelley added: "It's incredibly frustrating to think that all of the passion and care we put into this place, all the love we put into this place, is nothing but a piece of property that somebody might buy in order to tear down and build."

NCCU sent the following statement:

"North Carolina Central has a longstanding history within the Durham community and values the relationships it holds with neighborhood residents. On July 16, 2019, NCCU held a neighborhood meeting for community members regarding rezoning due to the university's forthcoming Student Center, which will be located on the corner of Fayetteville and Nelson streets. This meeting was required by the City of Durham as part of the rezoning process. Community members who reside along the perimeter of the new Student Center were informed of the meeting via a mailed letter from O'Brien/Atkins, the architect of the new Student Center with addresses provided by the City of Durham. The university has acquired the necessary real estate to complete the construction of the new Student Center."

The university has not yet responded to ABC11's inquiries about acquiring the Kelleys home and other homes for the expansion of the new athletic fields.

The project isn't a done deal.
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