The Science of Beer slated for September 12 at the Museum of Life and Science

OK, check this out: the Museum is hosting “The Science of Beer” in two weeks. We take the kid up there to play all the time (it’s a great place for younguns), but the museum also hosts these “after hours” events which can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. There will be food trucks, and, of course… beer. From local breweries. Like fifteen of them.

I’d actually read about this a while back, but for some reason I thought it was just an exhibit rather than a full blown celebration. After seeing the rundown today over at Carpe Durham, my interest is definitely piqued.

Protest petition revealed as source of DCM / Self-Help rezoning delay sheds some light on why the Kent Corner rezoning request was pulled from last week’s council agenda:

But there does remain a protest petition.

That means Self-Help has to get a 75 percent “supermajority” vote by the City Council next week to approve a zoning change it needs for Kent Corner, an office-retail project for the corner of West Chapel Hill and Kent streets..

What the heck? Who would do such a thing?

“I’ve had that petition in for the longest time along with some of my neighbors,” said David Anthony, who filed the petition with five other owners of property adjoining Self-Help’s site.

Hmm… David Anthony… now wait, why does that sound so familiar? Oh, I know, this is the same David Anthony who tried to upset bidding on the vacant parking lot on WCH St. in an earlier attempt to derail the project. Yeah, the guy who wants a store front church museum or something instead.

That guy.

So, Anthony’s protest petition (on which he managed to find a staggering five other property owners to join in) means that the council must now approve the site with a 75% majority, which… well, they actually mightn’t have had last week:

It was originally scheduled for a council vote at the Aug. 19 meeting. Then Councilman Eugene Brown announced he would miss that meeting and Councilwoman Diane Catotti realized there could be a problem: too few council members to make a supermajority.

Moffitt is obviously recusing himself from the vote, since he’s on the board of DCM, so even though the entire council is apparently in support of the project they need a good turnout to register the supermajority.

So, David Anthony, for your further obstructionism you’re receiving an unprecedented second nod as Jackass of the week. Hopefully the council will approve this project next Tuesday, and we can finally put your annoying run as NIMBY celebrity behind us.

In wake of recent crimes, Duke considers restricting access to West Campus

After a spate of armed robberies, the latest of which occurred outside of Perkins Library Sunday night, Duke is considering some changes to its security policies.

Probably the biggest potential change is, as the H-S notes, the elimination of after hours access to roads on West Campus. Roads such as “Towerview Drive” [sic. – I’m pretty sure it’s actually Towerview Road – Ed.] would be barricaded at night “to limit cut-throughs.”

The Chronicle’s story has more information about the potential closure:

Cavanaugh also noted that conducting road closures are also under consideration. He said that Towerview Road in particular is an area of concern and could potentially be closed at either entrance—at Duke University Road or Erwin Road—to decrease excessive drive-through traffic. A decision has not yet been made on the matter, he said.

[see, I told you it was Towerview Road – Ed.]

Also according to The Chronicle, Duke’s Central Campus improvement project (previously mentioned on this blog) included some lighting and lock upgrades which the campus cops hope should serve to make the area more secure.

I will point out that this is not the first time Duke has talked about shutting down through traffic in response to crime, and I’m not sure how likely that particular outcome really is. If the past is any indication, such measures are easily forgotten once the immediate threats are resolved, and the Duke Police / DPD have a pretty impressive record when it comes to this sort of crime on campus.

Indeed, the popo has already nabbed the Duke Gardens duo and I’d expect the genius who thought it was a good idea to stick up duke students at the damn library on Duke campus isn’t likely to evade capture for long either. Protip for thugs: you might want to not hold up people smack in the middle of Duke’s property, which is by and large monitored by video cameras, if you like the idea of actually getting away with the crime.

Food truck rodeo slated for Sunday, Duke reveals on-campus truck lineup

First up, Durham’s big food truck rodeo is slated for this Sunday, September 1. The event is scheduled to start around noon at Central Park, and should run until 4:30.

60 trucks? Wow. It’s astounding to me how quickly this scene has exploded in the area; I remember when the only truck I knew of was just some dude in a taco / Indian truck outside of Sam’s every now and then. Durham’s “FTR” was the first in the area, but Raleigh is home to a similar event as well.

WRAL’s presently calling for a beautiful day with highs in the 80’s and no rain, but the rodeo will go on rain or shine should the forecast change.

In other food truck news, we have Duke’s fall food truck lineup. A limited number of trucks can apply for permits to actually set up in lucrative positions on campus, and according to The Chronicle this year’s trucks are:

The seven trucks approved for this year are Baguettaboutit, Captain Ponchos, Chirba Chirba Dumpling, Fosters on the Fly, Gussy’s, Humble Pig and Parlez-Vous Crepes—all of which provide meals rather than snack food.

The Chronicle article laments the loss of one of last year’s favorites, LoYo.

McCrory signs 751 South forced annexation into law

Welcome to Durham, jerks.

In addition to the 751 South bill, McCrory went on a last minute signing rampage, approving everything except the Sharia Law bill which is still awaiting his decision. He’s got until Sunday to do something (or nothing) about that.

I’ll add a link to the rundown of what passed when it becomes available.


WRAL has a rundown. They also note that McCrory is going to let the Sharia Law bill become law without his signature.


One of the bills that just passed is the rollback of Jordan Lake pollution control measures, so the beleaguered lake is taking hits on all sides today. Good thing we drink from Lake Michie!

Veto override session scheduled for Sept 3; 751 South bill and others still await action

According to WRAL, McCrory has called the veto override session for Sept 3, so go ahead and mark your calendars. In NC, when the governor issues a veto, he must call the legislature back for a chance to override it (or, if he fails to do that for some reason, his veto is automatically overridden (which strikes me as a pretty stupid thing for a governor to do)).

Although both of the vetoed bills originally passed by large margins, and although the bluster from the legislature is that the override is a done deal, this could still get very interesting. Has this all been planned so that McCrory could score some cred by vetoing bills that he knew would be overridden later? Or are we looking at some real disagreement within the ranks of the GOP (this would not be the first time)? If McCrory’s the stooge here, he’s sure putting up a good show.

Assuming McCrory’s vetoes were legitimate, this would be an ideal time for some legislators to score some points by standing by the gov. He’s already proven that he’s a good person to be friends with, after all.

Oh, and you remember that 751 South forced annexation bill (S315, vaguely entitled “Municipal Services”)? Yeah, still waiting for approval, along with 34 other bills (including such favs as the Sharia Law bill). If McCrory doesn’t sign or veto these bills by Sunday, they become law automatically without his signature (which in the case of S315 at least seems like a good bet).

City OKs McPherson Hospital handouts; Kent / WCH rezoning vote slated for Sep 3

Do you know about the McPherson Hospital site at Main & Buchanan?

The exposed hospital, ca 2010
The exposed hospital, ca 2010

This historic site (near the original site of the first Watts Hospital) had been vacated some years ago, and as the real estate market was heating up around Brightleaf some developers thought it might make for a nice place to put a hotel. After several failed attempts at a design and much back-and-forth with neighbors, a site plan for a hotel was approved, and things were all set to move forward.

Before construction began, though, the site was sold to Concord who made some, er, changes to the plan. And by changes, I mean they scrapped everything and started over with a new site plan which bore little resemblance to the one that originally won approval (as you may know, site plans are non-binding; once the rezoning was approved, they were good to go).

So it was that the 60’s era addition to the historic structure was demolished back in 2008, and construction of the newly redesigned “extended stay” hotel was ready to begin.

… and it’s been ready to begin for the last five years.

2008, as you may recall, wasn’t a great year for real estate. The project never got past the demolition stage, and Concord has left the historic McPherson Hospital structure itself exposed to the elements and decaying for the past five years.

I talked briefly about this site before, as the developers (having safely waited out the recession) have come crawling back to the table looking for a cool $2 mil to get the ball rolling again, ostensibly to cover design concessions requested by Trinity Park et al. I read this little scenario as:

“Nice historic hospital structure we have falling apart here, eh? It’d be a shame if something were to… happen to it.”

Durham county partially called this bluff, providing a lesser contribution of $400k, which left sad developers sad. The developers subsequently went to the City to ask for more money to cover the gap.

Which the city is now doing, bringing the city’s bill to $1.3M:

But Councilman Steve Schewel noted that the County Commissioners – who balked at a request they put $755,000 into the project – had gotten the better of city leaders in the negotiations that shaped the governments’ offer to Concord.

The framing here of course is that the City was backed into a corner, that the Council just had to step up and fill the gap left by the County, or nothing would be preserved of the original hospital. I can’t help but feel the urgency was well engineered by Concord, who let the building disintegrate due to neglect only to later use the threat of further neglect as leverage to get tax breaks. Well played.

Also on the agenda for last night was to be a final vote on the rezoning request for the Kent Corner Self-Help/DCM co-op grocery store project. Such a vote would have indeed been interesting, but action on this item was moved to the upcoming September 3 meeting instead. The project recently received unanimous support from the Planning Commission, and the parking lot on West Chapel Hill St. was finally acquired, so Council approval is the last major bureaucratic hoop to jump through. I fully expect it to pass, but given some of the opposition the project has drawn, the meeting could be… interesting.

Record rainfall results in road repair rescheduling

You like that alliteration? Pretty good right?

Yeah, I guess I won’t quit my day job.

The ATT isn’t the only construction project to be derailed by this summer’s rain, as several road construction projects around Duke are slipping as well:

  • The West Main St. bridge replacement is now scheduled for completion in October (though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised by additional delays). The DOT plans to temporarily allow access to campus via Main St. for move-in week (which is this week), but the road will remain closed to through traffic. This does however mark the re-opening of Campus Drive under the bridge (though temporary closures will occur, mostly at night).
  • Various Campus Drive projects (Unnamed Stream repair, resurfacing, chilled water pipe replacement, bike lane addition, sidewalk replacement) won’t be done before move-in date. Duke’s going to halt these projects temporarily, so construction won’t interfere with traffic through the fall semester, and we can expect them to be completed when the students are out of town next summer. I do certainly dig the real bike lanes they’re adding here, which I scoped out over the weekend; this is what the road now looks like at the completed segment by the arts annex (no handicap curb cuts though? Hope they’ve got that in the works):

    Completed segment of campus drive
    Completed segment of campus drive
  • Duke University Road is still a mess due to gas line maintenance. PSNC energy is running this project, and they plan to pause construction during move-in week and sporting events. Once Duke University is complete (scheduled Sep 1), they intend to move on to Cameron, so if you’re trying to get to 15-501 on this route you’re still going to be SOL for a while.

After Sunday, Honey’s has wi-fi no more

One of the first posts I made on this site several months ago mentioned that Honey’s was on the way out, and its final weekend of operation is now officially upon us:

“We are officially closing the doors at 3 p.m. on Sunday,” said Buck Dickerson, owner of the 24-hour diner that has been serving the Bull City for more than 50 years.

I have eaten at Honey’s exactly once in my 7 years living in Durham. I found it to be exactly as expected, and noted that it was a good option if I ever were to wake up at 3 a.m. with an inexplicable appetite for grease. Sadly (or happily), no such scenario has occurred, and now that Honey’s is leaving I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do if and when the inevitable does happen.

So, hey – this seems like a market opportunity. Who wants to step up to the plate and start a 24-hour diner? Maybe hire a good executive chef and up the ante a bit? I bet I’d partake in that.