Durham County

Durham poised to pick Boston firm to redevelop old police headquarters property

This illustration shows the proposed redevelopment of 505 W. Chapel Hill St in downtown Durham. The historic NC Mutual building is to the left.
This illustration shows the proposed redevelopment of 505 W. Chapel Hill St in downtown Durham. The historic NC Mutual building is to the left.

An iconic city-owned property in Durham is getting a major makeover.

Plans to turn the old Durham Police Department headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street into a mixed-use development with affordable apartments were presented to the City Council on Thursday

City staff recommended the council choose the Boston-based Fallon Company to redevelop the 4.5 acre site at 505 W. Chapel Hill St. now that the Police Department has moved to East Main Street.

The council plans to act at its next regular meeting Oct. 7, Mayor Steve Schewel said.

Three firms submitted proposals, two of which — Fallon and Washington, D.C.-based Akridge — were selected for further evaluation.

Fallon’s proposal has 300 apartments, including 80 for households at 60% of the area’s median income. In Durham, that’s about $40,425 for a four-person household for a family of four. It also preserves the old police headquarters building and will have an additional office office building.

All told, the plan has about 350,000 square feet of office and commercial space: 276,500 square feet in the new office building and 73,500 square feet in the old headquarters buildings, the ground floor of which would have retail spaces. Part of the ground floor would also open up into a plaza.

Akridge proposed more than 400 apartments, including 90 at the same affordability threshold. But it offered less commercial space and required demolishing the old headquarters building.

505-front.JPG
The plan for 505 W. Chapel Hill St. calls for 300 apartments (some of which can be seen on the right in this illustration) and a new commercial office building behind the old police headquarters. The NC Mutual building is seen on the far left.

Affordable housing

“Both teams were really talented and there was deep thinking from both companies,” said Stacey Poston, the city’s Arts, Culture, and Sustainable Communities division manager. “The Fallon proposal hit all five of of the city’s objectives for the property.”

Affordable housing advocates have pushed city leaders to make sure any redevelopment of the property included affordable housing.

Marcia McNally of the Durham Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit said both proposals were good for the city, which has seen an increased demand for affordable housing.

“There was a great deal of uncertainty whether any developer would bid on such a project that was so ambitious and had so many goals, some of which were seemingly in conflict with each other,” McNally said. “It appears this approach paid off.”

505-front2.JPG
The plan for 505 W. Chapel Hill St. calls for 300 apartments (some of which can be seen on the right in this illustration) and a new commercial office building behind the old police headquarters.

Who is the Fallon Company

The Fallon Company, a family-owned business, was formed in 1993.

Company CEO Joe Fallon was at Thursday’s work session and helped explain the proposal.

“We focus on urban core mixed-use development,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we preserved the building.”

The company is currently developing a properties in Raleigh and Charlotte. It is partnering with the WinnCompanies to handle development and management of the property.

Turan Duda of Duda|Paine in Durham will be the lead architect for the project.

“I am excited about the renaissance Durham is going through,” he said. “I know this intersection very well. I’ve dreamed about what that site could become.”

Duda also helped design the American Tobacco Complex.

The old police headquarters structure was built in 1957 as offices for the Home Security Life Insurance Company, according to the Police department. The city had occupied it since 1991.

April Johnson of Preservation Durham said keeping the old headquarters building was important.

“I’m glad they recognized the cultural and architectural importance of this building,” she said. “It is significant and plays major role in how the site is developed.”

Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.
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