BUSI­NESSES

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Obit­u­ar­ies - Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawn­bvaughan

re­vi­tal­iza­tion of a city.

“Gen­tri­fi­ca­tion is re­vi­tal­iza­tion with tradeoff. There is dis­place­ment,” he said. Peo­ple are de­mand­ing to live in the Tri­an­gle, and that sends a rip­ple through the real es­tate mar­ket, Sil­ver said.

Zena Howard is a prin­ci­pal in Perkins + Will ar­chi­tec­tural firm. At a Down­town Durham Inc. event in Septem­ber, she talked about four projects her firm was work­ing on that showed how to be in­clu­sive by de­sign.

Ni­cole Thomp­son, head of Down­town Durham Inc., asked Howard how Durham can keep its cul­ture as it grows.

“Every­where I go I talk about Durham, ev­ery­one says to me, ‘My God, how that city is chang­ing,’ ” Howard said. Pre­serv­ing iden­tity is fun­da­men­tal in mak­ing great spa­ces, she said. That’s why they’ve used com­mu­nity in­put in de­sign­ing projects like the town com­mon in Greenville; Ho­gan’s Al­ley in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia; Brook­lyn Vil­lage in Char­lotte and Des­ti­na­tion Cren­shaw in South Cen­tral Los An­ge­les that pre­serve cul­tural iden­tity, she said.

Gabriel Eng-Goetz is founder of the Run­away cloth­ing brand, which has a lot of T-shirts, hats and other mer­chan­dise that cel­e­brate the Bull City. Their store is on Main Street and is one of the few mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses there. Run­away is the brand be­hind “Durm.”

“There’s def­i­nitely con­cerns with any city un­der­go­ing dras­tic growth and changes. Run­away re­ally is em­blem­atic of the arts and what the city has to of­fer maybe as a plat­form,” Eng-Goetz said. Now they pro­mote Durham as a cre­ative mecca in the South, he said. As the city changes, “we need to keep down­town Durham ac­ces­si­ble as well as di­verse.”

“I think the fact that peo­ple are down­town spend­ing money whether it be on din­ing, re­tail, en­ter­tain­ment — there are also tons of start-ups. I think it’s tremen­dous. It’s def­i­nitely bet­ter than an aban­doned down­town like we had be­fore. What con­cerns me is the amount of out­side in­vest­ment who don’t un­der­stand what came be­fore,” Eng-Goetz said.

He said Run­away’s win­ter cloth­ing line will cel­e­brate peo­ple and neigh­bor­hoods. They want to ed­u­cate cus­tomers about the legacy of Black Wall Street and “to pre­serve that his­tory so it doesn’t get washed away in all the money com­ing.”

MU­TUAL DIS­TRICT

NC Mu­tual’s sec­ond down­town home also be­came a land­mark build­ing. On West Chapel Hill Street, its signs on top of the build­ing are vis­i­ble in the city’s sky­line and from the Durham Free­way. Up the hill from his­toric Black Wall Street, it too is a sym­bol of black eco­nomic power. NC Mu­tual sold the build­ing a few years ago but still has 50 em­ploy­ees work­ing in leased space there. The build­ing is now called the Tower at Mu­tual Plaza and is un­der­go­ing a trans­for­ma­tion that devel­oper Carl Webb hopes ex­tends be­yond ar­chi­tec­ture.

The Tower at Mu­tual Plaza has about 400 peo­ple work­ing in it. Along with NC Mu­tual, oth­ers in the build­ing are Duke Uni­ver­sity, DukeHealth, Perkins + Will, GoTri­an­gle and the U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs. And by early 2019, a new cowork­ing space will open called Prov­i­dent 1898, which is the orig­i­nal name of NC Mu­tual. That will bring an­other 150 work­ers to the build­ing. There will also be 16,000 square feet of re­tail space on the ground floor.

Webb, one of the Tower at Mu­tual Plaza’s in­vestors, imag­ines a Mu­tual Dis­trict the same way down­towns have a Ware­house Dis­trict. And he hopes that will mean more mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses, too.

“I think it’s a sad com­men­tary on a city that doesn’t have a racial ma­jor­ity to preach a lot of the ideas of di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion and have such a low num­ber of black­owned busi­nesses down­town,” Webb said. “There’s no time I can re­mem­ber in re­cent his­tory that we’ve done so poorly with mi­nor­i­ty­owned busi­nesses in down­town.”

The Mu­tual Dis­trict Webb that wants to see would cel­e­brate the legacy of African Amer­i­can busi­ness in Durham. It is next to a pro­posed light rail stop, he said, and the Wil­lard Street Apart­ments project and the to-bere­de­vel­oped old po­lice head­quar­ters.

The Prov­i­dent 1898 co-work­ing space at the tower will build on NC Mu­tual’s his­tory and the his­tory of black en­trepreneurs in Durham, by de­sign.

“If you’re work­ing in a cre­ative en­vi­ron­ment where your his­tory and con­tri­bu­tions have been el­e­vated, you see where you fit in the new South,” he said.

Pre-re­vi­tal­iza­tion, in 2004, just 5 per­cent of down­town busi­nesses were mi­nor­ity-owned. That’s 42 of 824 busi­nesses at the time. As the city cen­ter was re­de­vel­oped, in­stead of in­creas­ing, that num­ber dropped. Just 3.5 per­cent of down­town busi­nesses were mi­nor­ity-owned a decade later. That’s 39 mi­nor­i­ty­owned busi­nesses of 1,116. This year looked bet­ter, with a grow­ing num­ber of mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses, in­clud­ing star­tups.

Thomp­son said that it’s harder to track mi­nor­ity busi­ness own­er­ship de­mo­graph­ics after a change in state law, but that there are many more in 2018, in­clud­ing dozens at Amer­i­can Un­der­ground, the start-up hub. Want­ing to at­tract and re­tain di­verse busi­ness own­er­ship as it grows is not ex­clu­sive to Durham.

“This is not a con­cern just unique to Durham, not just unique to down­town. All com­mu­ni­ties that are grow­ing are deal­ing with this,” she said. “We’re not unique, not be­hind, not do­ing a poor job — nor lead­ing the band,” Thomp­son said.

Down­town Durham Inc.’s mas­ter plan says that down­town has “gone through a dra­matic tran­si­tion over the past 20 years and we need to en­sure we pro­tect and nur­ture the racial and eco­nomic di­ver­sity and vi­tal­ity that has at­tracted so much of the na­tional at­ten­tion and devel­op­ment to down­town. Down­town must be de­lib­er­ate in our ac­tions to en­sure we are bring­ing a wide va­ri­ety of in­vest­ments, af­ford­able hous­ing and busi­nesses cater­ing to our di­verse com­mu­nity.”

Ali is a for­mer City Coun­cil mem­ber who now chairs the RDU Air­port Au­thor­ity. He also ran un­suc­cess­fully for mayor in 2017, though he was en­dorsed by out­go­ing Mayor Bill Bell. Bell is African Amer­i­can. The cur­rent mayor, Steve Schewel, is white. The coun­cil makeup be­fore the 2017 was ma­jor­ity African Amer­i­can, with four mem­bers, and still is. They are all pro­gres­sives and sup­port Schewel’s goal of shared pros­per­ity.

Ali and The In­sti­tute com­pleted a mi­nor­ity busi­ness sur­vey of busi­ness own­ers, stake­hold­ers and ad­vo­cates, with rec­om­men­da­tions, weeks ago, com­mis­sioned by Down­town Durham Inc. But DDI is not ready to share it with the pub­lic yet, Thomp­son said. She said the board is still dis­cussing it.

“While mi­nor­ity busi­ness own­er­ship is slightly higher in down­town, the low num­ber of mi­nor­ity busi­nesses over­all is a coun­ty­wide is­sue, and as such should be ad­dressed holis­ti­cally,” said Matt Glad­dek, Down­town Durham Inc.’s pol­icy and plan­ning di­rec­tor.

Henry McKoy, for­mer N.C. Depart­ment of Com­merce of­fi­cial who now teaches at N.C. Cen­tral Uni­ver­sity, said he has seen the con­ver­sa­tion around busi­ness di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion go up and down over the years. When it’s wa­ver­ing, there’s not a lot of in­vest­ment nur­tur­ing it in schools, com­mu­nity col­lege and part­ner­ships so that en­trepreneurs are ready when the calls goes out, he said.

“Say you wanted a high­end restau­rant in down­town Durham, and you say, hey it’d be great to have di­verse folks do that. … Are you putting in an ef­fort (to get them)?” McKoy asked.

“You can use in­cen­tives for a road that you want to get to,” he said.

Ali thinks that while Durham has di­ver­sity, it also has eco­nomic in­equal­ity.

“That’s why I ran for of­fice. There’s no govern­ment eco­nomic devel­op­ment on black Durham,” Ali said. He thinks it’s more com­plex than of­fer­ing in­cen­tives.

“It’s tak­ing govern­ment/pri­vate/pub­lic pros­per­ity for the whole com­mu­nity,” he said.

Ali says every pub­lic pol­icy de­ci­sion should ask “Where’s the eco­nomic jus­tice in this? How are we in­creas­ing their wealth? Or de­creas­ing their wealth?”

County lead­ers have asked The In­sti­tute to help with get­ting women and mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses as ground floor restau­rants in the newly opened Durham County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing II, which is the ren­o­vated old court­house on East Main Street.

Ali said that down­town is whiter than it used to be.

“Mi­nor­ity busi­nesses are less than 4 per­cent of down­town. … Af­ford­abil­ity is an is­sue, park­ing is an is­sue. Cost is an is­sue,” Ali said.

He said that Durham wants the com­pli­ments about black, white, Asian and LGBT di­ver­sity. But eco­nomic eq­uity is about shar­ing in the cake, not just the crumbs, he said.

Ali said that re­vi­tal­iza­tion and gen­tri­fi­ca­tion share qual­i­ties, but have dif­fer­ent re­sults.

WHO OWNS THE LAND?

The dom­i­nant landowner in down­town Durham is govern­ment. About a quar­ter of down­town be­longs to the city, county, schools and the pub­lic hous­ing au­thor­ity.

The city plans to use some of its land to ad­dress one of the con­se­quences of re­vi­tal­iza­tion: a lack of af­ford­able hous­ing.

Wil­lard Street Apart­ments, for­merly called the Jack­son/Pet­ti­grew af­ford­able hous­ing project, will re­ceive a 9 per­cent low in­come hous­ing tax credit needed to make the project a re­al­ity. That project should break ground in 2019 and will be a stone’s throw from the bus sta­tion and even­tual light rail sta­tion, too.

And the county is con­sid­er­ing af­ford­able hous­ing for two blocks it owns on the east end of down­town on the 300 and 500 blocks.

The JJ Hen­der­son pub­lic hous­ing site is next on Durham lead­ers’ list for that 9 per­cent low in­come hous­ing tax credit. It’s a com­pet­i­tive credit, so there’s no guar­an­tee Durham will get one, and if it does, it will only be once a year. So the Durham Hous­ing Au­thor­ity and Durham elected of­fi­cials agreed that the hous­ing au­thor­ity would be ask­ing for that in 2019.

JJ Hen­der­son’s cur­rent build­ing will be ren­o­vated, and a new build­ing will be built on the site if/when DHA gets that tax credit. DHA CEO An­thony Scott said last year that he wanted Fayette Place to be re­de­vel­oped first, be­cause it is va­cant. Fayette Place is the site of the old Fayet­teville Street pub­lic hous­ing com­plex that was knocked down. Now it’s just an empty block of side­walks to nowhere sur­rounded by a fence. With no res­i­dents to dis­place and prox­im­ity to down­town, it seems the eas­i­est place for the hous­ing au­thor­ity’s first mixe­duse, mixed-in­come project. But JJ Hen­der­son was a bet­ter bet for the chance at that low-in­come hous­ing tax credit, Scott said.

Sil­ver, the ur­ban plan­ner, thinks that over time hous­ing prices will sta­bi­lize. “As you start to build more in­ven­tory, prices go down be­cause of sup­ply,” he said. New hous­ing de­vel­op­ments are be­ing built in down­town and also far from down­town, in­clud­ing in East Durham close to the Wake County line and in South Durham. And the joint city-county plan­ning depart­ment has ideas about less re­stric­tive zon­ing so more hous­ing can be built in Durham.

There is also the soonto-be-va­cated Durham Po­lice Depart­ment head­quar­ters on West Chapel Hill Street, now that the new head­quar­ters is open on East Main Street. The City Coun­cil de­cided that they don’t want to de­velop af­ford­able hous­ing there them­selves, but the re­quest for pro­pos­als in­clude af­ford­able hous­ing. In other words, sell­ing the prop­erty to a devel­oper is con­tin­gent on that land hav­ing some af­ford­able hous­ing on it.

Mayor Schewel said there’s no ques­tion that there’s a lot of feel­ing in the African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity that it’s much harder for African Amer­i­can busi­nesses down­town than it is for white busi­nesses. “It is a prob­lem,” he said. “We need to be re­ally sup­port­ing the cre­ation and vi­a­bil­ity of African Amer­i­can busi­nesses, and women and mi­nor­i­ty­owned, too.”

Durham has not kept pace with its rep­u­ta­tion as the home of black cap­i­tal­ism, Schewel said, and it needs to change that. He said the city has a great af­ford­able hous­ing plan, tran­sit plan and solid waste and re­cy­cling plan.

“If you ask me, ‘Does the city the have an eco­nomic devel­op­ment plan that re­ally gives the vision of where we want to go?’ I would say you know, we don’t,” he said.

Schewel said the city’s Of­fice for Eco­nomic and Work­force Devel­op­ment is work­ing on a plan that the coun­cil should see in early 2019. The mayor wants the city’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment plan to be a vision be­yond down­town, with key el­e­ments to de­velop and nour­ish African Amer­i­can and mi­nor­i­ty­owned busi­nesses.

“We need a new vision,” he said. “It is a pri­or­ity.”

Webb has been in­volved in down­town Durham for a long time, pre­vi­ously with Green­fire Devel­op­ment. He thinks ev­ery­one shares in the re­spon­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for di­verse in­vest­ment, and he doesn’t think enough pri­vate in­vest­ment is by black­owned firms. Webb, who is African Amer­i­can, owns a small per­cent of One City Cen­ter, the sky­scraper so of­ten men­tioned as a sign of down­town change. He also is an owner of the Hill Build­ing at 21c Ho­tel.

Webb re­mem­bers a “ghost town” down­town in 2006, be­fore re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

“I think a lot of what has hap­pened has been out­stand­ing ... to see how far we’ve come now, even though we have some chal­lenges for cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the black and mi­nor­ity busi­ness com­mu­nity, we are still light years [from down­town be­fore],” he said.

Yet mi­nor­ity own­er­ship, when con­sid­er­ing all out­side in­vestors, needs to be a pri­or­ity, Webb said.

“If we have a homogenous kind of shiny new down­town, with­out hav­ing those indige­nous grass­roots lo­cal that made Durham what it is — if they’re out of the equa­tion, then what makes Durham spe­cial?” Webb said.

But he doesn’t think it’s too late.

“It feels like Durham down­town is done. It is not. Peo­ple are mov­ing in every day, and they buy goods and ser­vices,” Webb said. “I’m re­ally op­ti­mistic about mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Zs.”

PHOTOS BY JU­LIA WALL jwall@new­sob­server.com

Black Wall Street thrived on Par­rish Street in down­town Durham in the early 20th cen­tury. The his­toric North Carolina Mu­tual Life In­sur­ance build­ing was the cen­ter of it.

Farad Ali is CEO of The In­sti­tute, pre­vi­ously The In­sti­tute of Mi­nor­ity Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, which now owns the North Carolina Mu­tual Life In­sur­ance build­ing in Durham.

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