Durham shopping center on verge of major revitalization

Andrea Blanford Image
Friday, April 14, 2017
Durham shopping center on verge of major revitalization
The Scrap Exchange is behind the project at Durham's Lakewood Shopping Cente

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- An area of the Bull City that has been overlooked and long-ignored is getting one step closer to a booming revitalization.

The Scrap Exchange is behind the project at Durham's Lakewood Shopping Center off Chapel Hill Road and instead of tearing down to rebuild, they're planning to reuse what's already there.

For years, people have come to The Scrap to peruse the aisles, searching for all sorts of things: old tires, dishes, fabrics, books, albums, and much, much more.

Laura Bristol and her granddaughter come to the nonprofit creative reuse center every Friday.

"There's always something new here," said Bristol. "It's like a treasure hunt."

And by new, she means new to them. The Scrap offers just that: deferring 140 tons of solid waste from going to the landfill every year and instead, putting it in the hands of those who love to create.

Matching that theme of taking the abandoned and turning it into something new, is exactly what Ann Woodward, Executive Director of The Scrap Exchange, says is driving the revitalization of the Lakewood Shopping Center into a Reuse Arts District.

"It's a never seen before concept," said Woodward.

In August 2016, The Scrap bought the 10 acres surrounding its facility on the northern end of the Shoppes at Lakewood, as well as 105,000 square feet of commercial space.

Looking out over the desolate expanse of the parking lot and empty storefronts, Woodward describes the vision.

"I see a landscape for artists and economic development," she said. "That's what I see. I see unlimited opportunity. I see a sculpture park. I see permaculture related to planting food. I see a lot of recreation, adventure playground; really a place for the community to come and gather."

Woodward is looking at a target deadline of May 31 to have all the spaces leased so the Reuse Arts District can begin a fundraising campaign.

The project would include a thrift store, food hall, food bank, even affordable housing.

"That's really what we want the district to embody is serving these basic needs," she said.

People who frequent The Scrap Exchange are thrilled to see revitalization that reuses existing structure and space in the works.

"I'm happy to know that there are folks who are thinking more about the impact of growth on the people who have already been in the area for a long time," said Jason Lord.

"The fact that they're gonna be using these buildings and preserving basically the history of the area is wonderful," Bristol said.

Learn more about the Reuse Arts District here.

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