New DDI president named

May. 20, 2013 @ 09:52 PM

Downtown Durham Inc. has named Geoffrey Durham, the economic development manager for the city of Fairfax, Va., as its new president and CEO.

The 42-year-old is expected to start in the role in July. He will replace Bill Kalkhof, DDI’s first president. Kalkhof retired April 30 after 20 years on the job, and is contemplating a run for Durham City Council.

“We are thrilled that Geoff Durham will be leading Downtown Durham, Inc. in the future,” said Joni Madison, chair of the Downtown Durham, Inc. executive search committee, in a statement. “He has proven experience in economic development, downtown revitalization and how to construct strong public and private partnerships.”

Durham has more than 12 years of economic development strategy experience, according to a news release distributed Monday.

In Fairfax, Durham has worked to promote the city’s office and retail space to businesses and to market vacant commercial spaces to developers, according to the release. The city has a population of 22,549, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate from 2011.

Prior to working in Fairfax, he worked in Silver Spring, Md., where he developed capital improvement projects for the urban district there and also managed property development and budgetary needs, according to the release.

 “I think Geoff brings a really strong background for the job,” Kalkhof said of Durham. “On paper, he appears to have the skill set to run downtown Durham Inc. The question is: Will he be getting on the ground, getting to know people, getting the feel for how Durham works and how it will fit into his method of operation?”

Kalkhof added that he believes it’s a good time for new leadership for the group as there are a number of new development projects moving forward. That list includes apartment projects and proposals to redevelop existing downtown buildings into hotels.

A groundbreaking was held last week for a $46.1 million student-housing development at 605 W. Chapel Hill St., across from the Durham Police headquarters. The 338-unit complex is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014.

Another apartment project was proposed by Maryland-based real estate investment firm Federal Capital Partners, the majority owner of West Village, for the block between West Main and West Morgan streets. Construction is slated to begin in June on the six-story, 156-unit apartment community.

In addition, Greenfire Development proposed a housing development for the corner of Jackson and Willard streets in partnership with Virginia-based Armada Hoffler, and Colorado-based Austin Lawrence Partners has proposed a 26-story tower off West Main Street with apartments as well as retail and office space.

Downtown Durham Inc. has helped to bring more than $1 billion in investment to Durham since it launched in 1992, according to the release. The group focuses on five main areas: economic development, promotion, safety, appearance and parking.