Need a condo? Cause we’re getting more condos.

I guess it shouldn’t really be a surprise, but 92 more luxury condos (starting in the mid-$200,000s) are on the horizon near downtown. This project will sit directly north of Central Park on a .9 acre plot bordered by Foster, Corporation, and the vestigal Roney St. In addition, 10,000 square feet of Central Park itself are being sold to the developer for $41,788.

This location, you may notice, is directly across from the former site of the Liberty Warehouse, which was itself demolished… to make room for apartments. So if you want to live near Central Park, I guess you’ll have no problems finding a place.

The Indy griped about the approval process, which seemed to happen quickly and without much public input. I suppose they take issue with the fact that the initial discussions were held between the park’s governing body (the Durham Central Park board) and the developers. It doesn’t seem clear to me that this was actually any kind of problem, because the project still had to get approval of the council; something it did by a margin of 6-1. Moffit dissented, and it seemed like he mainly had concerns over whether the city should be handing over its land so readily.

I can’t personally muster much of an opinion about this project. There’s nothing especially wrong with it, but it doesn’t really excite me either. It does seem like a missed opportunity for some street level retail on Foster Street to kick things up a notch on that streetscape, or for something a bit more to be done with Roney (which will be improved and made a proper pedestrian through-way, but it feels like they could have put some shops or something back there too). The renderings (PDF) of the park-facing side of the structure look attractive enough.

These are going to be “luxury” condos, which always bring about concerns over affordable housing. Short version: there won’t be any. My own take: when the real estate bubble bursts due to all of these goddamn apartments and condos being built at once, all of these units will end up being affordable housing.

Max the steer has passed away

If you have a small child and live in Durham, at some point you’ve likely met Max the steer, who up until this weekend lived at the Museum of Life + Science.

Max has been at the museum since he was three months old, back in 2007. He passed away of unknown causes. My daughter is definitely going to miss him.

Note, and this is very important: Max was a steer, not a cow. Please be aware that milk does not come from steers. Try explaining this to a four year old, though; my daughter still attempts to “milk” the highly anatomically correct Major the Bull in disturbing ways.

Google Fiber is (still) coming

You may have heard that Google Fiber is beginning honest to god construction now.

What does that mean for you? Not a whole lot – yet. The first homes will probably start coming online within a year or so, but it will most likely take several years for the rollout to complete.

If you haven’t already, you can put your address into this web page (as if Google doesn’t already have your address somewhere…..) and they’ll let you know when you can buy this thing.

Durham launches Open Durham (no relation to Open Durham)

Well, now there are two things named Open Durham.

The new kid on the block is a web site which houses all sorts of data about the city. You data nerds out there go have fun with this, I’m sure that you can find all kinds of interesting trends. Like, check out this crime map for example. It seems like it could be a pretty useful tool.

A lot of you probably already know of the original Open Durham, created by Gary Kueber as a followup to Endagered Durham as a facility to document the history of the city’s architecture.

The city better get on that SEO to optimize its brand and avoid consumer confusion. Gary’s site pre-dates the new service by several years, so he’s got quite a head start. I guess there’s room in the world for multiple open Durhams, just be careful in your googling to make sure you find the one you actually want.

New Belgium’s “Tour de Fat” hits Durham this weekend

Tour de Fat is another weird one. Not, like, Beaver Queen Pageant weird, but it’s up there.

New Belgium (which is a brewery that is mostly in the business of making beer) operates a travelling show which is about bicycles (and also, of course, about New Belgium beer). The event is located in and around the DBAP, with various activities for all ages thereabouts.

The show itself is free, but if you’re so inclined you can cough up some cash to help support local non-profits.

The Business 15-501 Road Diet has been approved

And it passed by a whopping 7-0 margin. Kevin’s got more details about the council meeting (which also included approval of the condos around Central Park; more on that later).

The opponents of the road diet did not present data to support their opposition, and their arguments mostly boiled down to the appeal to tradition fallacy or the Nirvana fallacy (or, in some cases, outright incorrect information).

My big takeaway from all of this is that there’s a lot of pent up demand for improving Durham’s streets. It’s easy to imagine a world where the concerns of a few business owners might have killed this entire project, but the sheer volume of community support was impossible to ignore. This was in no small part due to the efforts of Bike Durham, which organized the petition (which received over 1000 signatures), and as always thanks to the efforts of the BPAC.

Mayor Bell seemed a bit miffed by the outcome, and he grumped that “phase 2″ (sidewalks and further upgrades) wouldn’t happen in his lifetime, but that didn’t stop him from voting yes anyway to make this unanimous. I suspect that this vote is an indicator that well considered streetscape improvements will be approved by the Council in the future.

Well, assuming that they’re free, of course. If the city has to actually pay for them, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

Bull City Rising is back

Kevin of the Bull City Rising blog has started posting again.

I liked Kevin’s blog a lot and I doubt I would ever have made had he continued it, so that leaves this site with an uncertain future. I’ve had a lot of fun here, but Kevin has more time (or at least more dedication) than I’ve been able to muster.

For the time being I expect to keep publishing this blog without any changes, but if there ends up being a lot of overlap with BCR I may post a bit less and focus more specifically on subjects of particular interest to me.