Former Police HQ Development

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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
Regarding elevatoroperator’s bullet #5, I don’t agree with the council contradicting its own stated priorities but I definitely prefer a development with more office space. We desperately need that downtown and I can’t imagine we need any more market rate residential.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
@elevatoroperator - thank you so much for this recap. It is extremely comprehensive! I wish I had been able to attend.
mjp
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

mjp
In reply to this post by elevatoroperator
elevatoroperator wrote

6. Although Akridge's offer was 2 million higher, they offered 5% up front and 95% after development. Fallon's structure was the reverse -- 95% up front. This gave the city more security, and they can use the funds quicker. Also worth pointing out Lemanski's (Akridge team) history with Greenfire, in buying up multiple properties downtown and failing to deliver. Under his watch, the Liberty Warehouse roof collapsed, and the buildings on Main Street where One City Center now stands were demolished with nothing to replace them for years. I think trust may have been an issue here, although it was never discussed during the meeting.

Anyone else thinking this turned out to be a wise decision on the City's part, given the likely dire straits ahead for many state and local budgets?
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
Great callback, the city shifted the risk to Fallon and that is looking like a REALLY good move right now.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think taking on development risk is probably not what the city ever wants to do, regardless of pandemic timing or not.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
In reply to this post by mjp
Always good to get money up front but the details state that 95% will be paid within 30 days of agreeing to a development plan with the city which hasn’t happened yet and might realistically never happen, or could change dramatically at this stage.
mjp
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

mjp
Extremely necessary detail and thanks for reminding me. I might have gotten ahead of myself. It will be interesting to see how that evolves.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
It will be interesting to see how these projects navigate the path forward. Definitely an advantage for those that have not broken ground yet to take an opportunity to assess the landscape. As Dave has alluded to, construction costs have been sky high in recent periods and will more than likely come down and banks are actively lending (and they will be even if there’s a short term pause). Could be worth a thread for discussion if others want to opine on how this alters the trajectory of Durham’s development. I have some thoughts but work has been chaos the last few weeks working for one of the big banks.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
I would love to hear those thoughts, for sure!

I was about to make a new thread, but I think I will wait for you to do it, if that's ok, whenever you have a moment to post those thoughts, so the thread doesn't just sit there empty.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
In reply to this post by Durham_Transplant
It looks like the development plan has been agreed upon and the transaction is now definitive (or close to it). Looks like all of 2021 will be dedicated to design, permitting and financing with construction on the residential and HQ renovation portions of the project set to begin in early 2022. Construction on the office tower set to begin late 2023/early 2024. The master development agreement, project timeline and various supporting documents are available on the city website but not much info available beyond what I posted above.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
Awesome - great info. Glad to see it is moving forward!
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

CarolinaFan
In reply to this post by elevatoroperator
This is back on the council's agenda for the work session scheduled tomorrow, May 6.

https://durhamnc.gov/AgendaCenter/City-Council-4


It appears some changes may be in the works, including an ask for more money to increase the affordable housing from 80 to 90 units.

Personally,  I would like to see the old police headquarters building torn down so the entire site can be used to its fullest extent. Many more units of housing - affordable or not- should be added to the site by building higher.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

elevatoroperator
No way that would ever happen. Way too much opposition from preservationists and local design enthusiasts, and rightfully so. I'm glad they made preserving the building a priority on the site -- it has so much potential to be the gem of this redevelopment if it's done right, and I have no doubt that whatever would replace it would've been much less architecturally-significant than what was there before. I do wish they'd have gone denser on the other corners of the site like the other losing scheme did, rather than building a 5-over-1 on half of it.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

CarolinaFan
I guess it's in the eye of the beholder, but the old police HQ is just a rectangular glass box. It bears a close resemblance to a 1960's motel in Asheville called the Downtowner. It's ugly there too - if it still exists.

The highest and best use for the site would be start over with a clean slate and go up at least 10 stories. You could get far more housing, affordable and otherwise, on the site that way. Not every building is worth saving.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

shamans
In reply to this post by elevatoroperator
I'm on the call right now but would love if someone could translate all of this to me!
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

elevatoroperator
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by CarolinaFan
CarolinaFan wrote
Not every building is worth saving.
Absolutely agreed. But I think this one is.

Architecture isn't just worthy of preservation for its beauty; it's also a cultural artifact and a record of history, serving as tangible reminders of and connections to our past. In this case, this is a historically significant building and could be one of the finest examples of mid-century modernism in the state if properly restored. I'm just glad that the people in charge here recognize that.

A "glass box" might seem unnoteworthy today, but in 1958, it was a bold display of futurism in a sea of brick Southern traditional buildings. This is one of the few shining examples left in our region of the International Style, and its architect Milton Small was a disciple of Mies van der Rohe, the father of modernism. To me, it represents the unique history of Modernist architecture in the Triangle, and was built at a time when we were at the forefront of a progressive national design movement.

Sure, we can bulldoze it and replace it with something that will ultimately be unnoteworthy for its time, but I disagree that this would be a "better" use of the site.

CarolinaFan wrote
It bears a close resemblance to a 1960's motel in Asheville called the Downtowner.
This???  Gave me a good chuckle.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
In reply to this post by shamans
I went and read the materials presented in conjunction with the discussion. Sounds like the gist of it is that to convert the old building to office would cost ~35% more than originally anticipated. So the developer put forth two alternatives which contemplate converting the old building to residential and scaling back the minimum office space from 300k to 250k square feet. They are also proposing to modestly reduce the amount paid to the city for the property and request other concessions to offset the anticipated financial impact of the increased cost. One of the alternatives did contemplate increasing the number of affordable units from 80 to 90.

It will be interesting to see whether the city agrees to one of the alternative proposals or terminates the agreement entirely. Given how much has been invested in this process I would suspect that they try to reach an agreement to move forward. Starting over or reopening the process seems like it would set the project back years.

More info here: https://cityordinances.durhamnc.gov/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=458&doctype=1
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
My guess is that the biggest factor is the financial change:

- 25% reduction in purchase price

- Landmark Designation (if I remember correctly, this cuts taxes in half in perpetuity. Anything in perpetuity is pretty daunting)

Everything else seems pretty minor, except for the following:

"Less activated streetscape – Given use of historic tax credits, the design no longer opens up the first floor to W. Chapel Hill St. or brings the building closer to the street."

That lack of activation of W Chapel Hill is probably not what they wanted to see either (and not what I'd like to see).
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Durham_Transplant
Do you know if the reduction in taxes would apply across the entire project or would they have a way to segment out the assessed value of the historical building? If over the whole project that might be a dealbreaker.
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

Dave @ Building Bull City
Administrator
I wasn't able to figure that out, but I agree that Durham would not want to confer landmark status on the parts of the property that weren't historic if they could help it (not that they would want to confer landmark status on any of it).

I think the fact that the mayor, council and the public all have a mental anchor point for their expectations will make this difficult. Classic overpromise, underdeliver (even if it is not Fallon's fault).
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Re: Former Police HQ Development

wags
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