Developer eyes first quarter for Ninth Street project

Sep. 08, 2013 @ 10:21 PM

To add to the list of transformative projects already under way in the Ninth Street area, a developer is revving up to build a development with space for apartments, shops and restaurants along Ninth Street north of Elmo’s Diner.
The area is flush with new development, with a hotel, apartments and a Harris Teeter grocery store all in the works near Ninth between Main Street and Hillsborough Road.
To that list, the proposed Ninth Street North Phase 1-A project would add 10,000 square feet of space for shops and restaurants and 222,046 square feet of apartments on about 2.7 acres bounded by Ninth, Green and Iredell streets. The project would be, at its tallest, six stories, but would descend in height heading toward Green Street. It would have an internal parking deck and a dining terrace on Green.
On the site currently, there is a parking lot, several existing businesses, and homes that developer Glenn Dickson said are rentals. There’s also vacant commercial land that, at one time, housed a Biscuit King.
The property is across from the first phase of Ninth Street North, a two-story building completed in 2002 with space for offices and shops. Bali Hai, Dale’s Indian Cuisine and One World Market are tenants there.
At one time, the groundbreaking for Phase 1A was slated for 2009, and the project was targeted to be finished in 2011. George Stanziale, senior vice president with the engineering, design and planning firm Stewart, said the economic downturn impacted timing. Stanziale is the principal landscape architect for the project, he said, and the firm is handling the civil engineering work.
“We were in the middle of the recession in 2009,” Stanziale said. “You didn’t see any of this type of construction going on.”
Now Dickson said he’s working with Charlotte-based Terwilliger Pappas as a partner, and he said they want to see construction launch early in the first quarter of next year.
“We want to put the building up,” he said.
The project is in the review phase after the site plan for Ninth Street North 1A was re-filed with the planning department last month. Some changes were made, but Dickson said development commitments hashed out with local neighborhood groups remain intact.
Tom Miller, a resident of the nearby Watts-Hospital Hillandale neighborhood who’s also the neighborhood association’s zoning committee chairman, said there was a question about whether the changes would mean Dickson would have to meet new zoning regulations for Ninth Street, or whether he would have to stick to the old plan and meet the commitments that were hashed out with the neighbors.
Steve Medlin, director of Durham City-County Planning, said the plan has been accepted as an amendment to the original site plan, so it’s being reviewed by planning staff under the old standards in effect at the time of the original approval and approved development plan.
Miller said if Dickson planned to build according to the old plans, with the commitments intact, neighbors wouldn’t be “too terribly concerned.”
Neighbors have wanted to see that part of Ninth Street act as transition area between the area’s businesses, Miller said, with development decreasing in intensity heading along Ninth toward the residential neighborhoods.
“If he develops in a way consistent with that philosophy, I think we’re going to be OK,” Miller said. However, he also added that neighbors plan to meet to discuss the plan changes in more detail.
“If there is something to criticize in that plan, then we’ll find it, and we’ll criticize it,” he said.
Stanziale said the plans are “really very, very, very much the same.” He said the building still decreases in elevation heading toward Green Street.
“The building is actually, in some cases, lower than the original building, not as tall,” Stanziale also said. “And really the majority of changes have occurred inside. It’s really more making sure that the sizes of the units are right, and the deck, and that kind of thing. For the most part, it’s more of an internal change.”
He added that the project is one of four different apartment projects in the works for that area, in addition to the one under construction between Main Street and Hillsborough Road, one on Swift Avenue, and others.
He said it’s easier to get financing for apartments right now, and the Triangle apartment market is under-served. And there is a proposed transit station targeted for the Ninth Street area.
“You’re seeing the density being done in areas that are hopefully providing for residential and other uses in potential train station areas,” he said.