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.

3 thoughts on “Need a condo? Cause we’re getting more condos.”

  1. RE: “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.”

    This is an insightful point. Though it does not take a real estate bust to meet this end.

    In practice, affordable housing is provided by the market (NOT by DHA, NOT by non-profits, and NOT by marginal city policies). None of the intellectuals who frequent this blog and BCR want to admit it, but as a local planner put it, Bobby Roberts and Lee Ray Bergman provided more of Durham’s affordable housing than the city ever did. Through “slum clearance” and HUD programs like “Hope” IV, politics have indisputably created a net LOSS of affordable housing. It’s important to remember this.

    Affordable housing happens through wide violation of the city’s no-more-than-three unrelated people in a house.
    Affordable housing happens through garage apartments.
    Affordable housing happens when yesterday’s shiny new apartments become tomorrow’s less shiny USED apartments.

    On the latter, some (but not all) of these new apartment complexes will become slightly grungier, less desirable, and will have to lower their rents to compete. That’s a function of location, amenities, marketing and management. It’s good the city is building, because that excess capacity is what ultimately ensures affordability.

    All the other efforts are just noise.

    1. Jackson: I think (?) we’ve had a conversation on this recently in person (on your porch, no?)

      I would wholeheartedly agree that the answer to affordable housing crunches are more housing. That said, I don’t think demolishing end-of-life, outmoded public housing through HOPE VI was a bad move. The key is to build more housing, everywhere, to keep housing affordable.

      I actually have little problem with the arrival of apartments and these condos downtown. Prices in Trinity Park and other neighborhoods have been soaring; now, there’s new housing stock that should slow the growth.

      With that said, the aesthetics around some of the market-rate affordable housing isn’t great and turns people off to affordable housing. I’d personally love to see a model where there’s a way to fix up those sorts of properties to reduce friction with neighbors, while at the same time locking them in as affordable housing units for a long term. I don’t know what the model is to do that or how you get to there. But there has to be a way to improve the quadplexes that so many of us find unsightly without eliminating it as affordable housing stock — that is, to make it true urban renewal and not the much-maligned urban removal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *