Came across an interesting development request filed on July 1 and titled “Brightleaf - Block A” with the following description:
“The proposed project will consist of retail and office space with associated parking garage, utilities, culvert rerouting and bus stop. 233,940 SF of habitable area.”
Oddly, it was grouped in with the various requests for the 400 W Main/Novus project on the Durham Maps site. I’m assuming that’s an error given the “Brightleaf” naming convention. So could this be the next phase for Asana’s vision? Austin Lawrence-related entity does also own a corner of that site where the gas explosion occurred but it wouldn’t seem to be big enough to accommodate this plan. Whatever the story it sounds like a pretty sizable project.
Not totally sure I can find a way to link to it directly but I screenshot it here. I guess it will show up in the July development request summary when that gets posted after month end. I guess it *could* be the second phase of the South Bank project but they said before they weren’t planning any office space and that seems pretty quick since they haven’t even started building the first phase. The square footage figures also line up with the new building that Wexford is supposed to be developing on Gregson.
It looks like the “Brightleaf North” project is an expansion of the Brightleaf at the Park community.
I just made another thread about this. When I saw above that this development might actually be talking about a suburban development, I thought they might be different. Deleting my thread and adding to this thread:
Just heard word that St James Seafood at Main and Duke is closing due to the landlord not renewing a lease. This makes me think the remaining buildings on that block are scheduled to all be torn down and replaces with an entirely new development for the whole block. If the plan was to renovate the existing buildings and build new in the parking lot / gas explosion buildings, Asana would be willing to give St James incentives to stay open and be an anchor for the area.
With the departure of St James and Toreros, there's no remaining ground level tenants of that block. Construction must be around the corner.
Unfortunately it appears I was correct. Even worse, it's office space and a large parking garage. Not even good development, just more car centric sprawl. After the news about Northgate Mall doing the same, this is a real depressing week of Durham development news.
I don't consider this sprawl, and structured parking was bound to be a component of redevelopment. They are replacing a large surface lot after all, and adding density with an office building that requires additional parking.
I'm still absolutely gutted that we're losing the Saint James building; it was really special. I wish they'd have chosen to preserve the historic storefronts and built around them. It's still a large viable plot for development; they'd just have needed to go a bit taller. I'm also anxious to see how they treat Gregson... the N&O article suggests that parking fronts Gregson, and it sounds like there won't be retail or program wrapping the deck.
Other than that, I think the stepped massing looks cool and could be a refreshing add to Main St. I'm pleasantly surprised by the scale; 7 stories is a lot less than I expected but feels more appropriate for the area than a huge tower would. Excited to see how the design develops.
This being new development in what is essentially the downtown core, 7 stories is inadequate density. And having parking facing Gregson rather than wrapping it with retail is a poor design that doesn't create a safe, walkable feel.
I hope this plan improves during the planning department review.
This might not be the most perfect design we could dream up but it’s definitely a huge leap forward in terms of utility for that site. And it seems likely that the Duke/Morgan corner will have some sort of high density residential in the future as well. I do like that the facade is something other than just a big cube.
CarolinaFan, I’m not sure we can expect office projects to go much higher than this in the near term. Everything that’s recently built or proposed is 8 stories or less in downtown: next Durham ID building is 7, ATC West buildings will be 5 and 6, the Roxboro is 8, the Y project I think is billed as 11 stories but that’s inclusive of the Y on the first two stories.