The view around Durham Central Park is changing again. On Thursday, a construction fence went up and the building just to the north of the park is coming down. This property, at 539 and 545 Foster St., will soon be home to a new apartment building called Foster on the Park. The property is owned and being developed by Blue Heron Asset Management, a Raleigh based investment firm.
During the construction phase of this project there will be some impacts on the park. Here’s what you can expect over the coming months:
- There is a temporary 30’ construction easement on the northern boundary of the park property. It will be closed to the public during the duration of the construction, but will be remediated and will re-open after the construction finishes.
- The northern section of Roney Street (at Corporation) will be closed during the construction. The construction company is creating a walkway so that people can still access the park from this park entrance.
- The sidewalk on the western side of Foster Street will eventually be closed during the construction and will re-open when construction is finished.
- The project is slated to take about 20 months.
Despite the new construction project next door, Durham Central Park will remain open. All of the activities scheduled in the park, including the Durham Farmers’ Market and Durham Craft Market, will continue without interruption.
History about this Project
Blue Heron acquired the property more than 5 years ago and had initially planned on building condos on the site back in 2015. However, their plans changed and they made adjustments to their development and decided to build an apartment building instead. In early 2017, Blue Heron approached the City of Durham to ask for easements on park land. The City Manager asked the Durham Central Park Board to meet with the developers and make a recommendation of improvements that the developer could make to the park in exchange for the easements.
The DCP Board convened a committee to work on this project. Over several months, representatives from the DCP committee, City staff members, and folks from Blue Heron had a series of meetings to determine the park improvements that best fit our master plan. During these meetings, DCP’s objectives for the park came directly from the community input that was gathered in 2016 as we updated our master plan. These objectives are:
- Make the park bigger (which is challenging, but we can make underutilized areas more usable)
- Protect existing open space
- Add shade and seating
As a result of these meetings, DCP, the City of Durham, and Blue Heron agreed on the following improvements to be made in Durham Central Park by the developer which were recommended to the City Manager and memorialized in the development agreement, including:
- Create a woonerf style entrance to the park on Roney Street (from Corporation St. to the Brannan)
- Construct and install seating area at the northern entrance to the park at Roney and Corporation streets
- Include decorative brick pattern on the wall that faces the park
- Construct stairs and seating area at the property line on Foster street
- Improve the drainage in the Sister Cities Grove
- Replace trees that are removed in the process of development, including the sister cities tree grove
Previous Development Agreements
There is a precedent for developers making improvements in the park in exchange for city granted easements onto park property. The City Manager has asked the DCP Board to make recommendations for park improvements for both the Liberty Warehouse Apartments and Brannan developments.
Thanks to those developments, we can now all enjoy an ADA accessible walkway on the east side of the park, Mount Merrill, a repaired skate park, and soon lots of shade from the recently planted trees. Later this year, the Art Wall will be installed with a fantastic, interactive piece on the east side of the park. And there is still more to come!
About Durham Central Park
Durham Central Park is a 5 acre city owned park in the heart of downtown Durham. DCP, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization holds a management agreement with the city to operate, develop and manage this park. DCP, Inc.’s mission is Providing Space for Community and is committed to building and maintaining a public park where everyone can feel welcome.
PLAYlist Concert Series
This Friday, we will be unveiling the full lineup for our newly named PLAYlist Concert Series! You may be wondering what’s behind the name. Here’s why we named it PLAYlist.
Over the years, Durham Central Park has become a place for people of all ages to relax and play. As the park has developed, we have built physical playgrounds like Mount Merrill and our climbable statues, the skate park has become one of the most regularly activated areas in the park, and there is open areas where people can play with kids and dogs. But, it’s not just physical structures. We have worked to intentionally design events that cultivate community interactions and maintain a lighthearted and fun atmosphere.
Last year, as we expanded our concert series from 4 to 10 weeks and invited bands of diverse genres, we started noticing how playful the crowd had become. People of all ages and from all walks of life were coming together on a Friday evening, seeing friends, dancing, laughing, having a good time. As the organizer of this series, we were absolutely delighted to see a field full of happy people playfully enjoying a few hours together in the park. So, incorporating the word “play” into the name really felt like a natural fit.
You may have also noticed that before each concert, we have put together a custom playlist of songs to set the mood for the evening and get folks pumped up for the show.
As we build the series every year, we are also very intentional about the musicians that we invite to our stage. Each concert is meant to evoke an evening that feels spirited, soulful, refreshing, warm, and happy. We hope that concert attendees feel uplifted during the evening and can take that feeling into the weekend. What better way to do that, after seeing a great show, than to add the music to your own personal summer playlists.
So, there you are… PLAYlist.
We hope that you can join us for a fun and playful concert series at the park this summer!
More about PLAYlist Concert Series
PLAYlist Concert Series covers a wide range of genres (funk, soul, jam, jazz, americana, hip hop, etc.) and feature local, regional and national performers from diverse backgrounds as well as a diversity of age, race, and gender. The concerts are intentionally designed to be all ages, family friendly events that are welcoming to all. Every concert and event associated with the series is completely free of charge (of course, donations are always welcome). One of our major goals for this series to to ensure, as downtown changes and revitalizes, people are not priced out of enjoying live music. We hope that PLAYlist Concert Series enriches our community and deepens appreciation for the arts.
The 2018 PLAYlist Concert Series starts June 8th and runs every Friday evening from 6-8pm through August 10th.
It may be safe to say that the Cardinal and Turtle sculptures are Durham Central Park’s most loved features. Recently, they have started showing that love and they are ready to get back to looking new again.
Starting on Thursday April 5 (weather permitting, of course), our beloved climbable sculptures – Rockin’ Reuben (the Cardinal), Mister Pickles (the Turtle) and the Earthsplitter sandbox (or whatever you love to call them) – will get a fresh coat of paint! Local artist Mike Waller, who created and installed these sculptures over the last several years, will be in the park working on them this week. He will put on several coats of fresh paint and and sealant. Then, we will need to let them thoroughly dry and cure so that the sculptures can go back to looking their best. The whole process will take about 7 days.
During this time, all three of the sculptures will be fenced off and people are asked to stay off of them so that we can get the best results. Thanks so much for your patience during their maintenance. We’ll let you know as soon as they are ready to be climbed on again!
Artist Team Selected for Liberty Warehouse Wall at Durham Central Park
“Meet the Artists Open House and Discussion”
6:30pm on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at Kompleks Creative
The Liberty Warehouse Wall at Durham Central Park will soon have new public art on display now that the artist team has been chosen.
Durham Central Park, Inc., Liberty Warehouse Apartments, and the City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development, General Services Department, Durham Parks and Recreation, Public Art Committee, and Artist Selection Committee have chosen Noa Younse and Jennifer Hiser as the artist team to design and install public art for the Liberty Warehouse Wall.
Their selection follows a participatory review process of 104 artist applications from across the United States responding to a national call for qualifications released in September 2017, and will mark the second major public art installation along the Durham SmART Vision Plan corridor.
Younse and Hiser are a Brooklyn-based pair specializing in community-focused interactive public art. Using themes derived from each unique context, they strive to use art as a vehicle to generate local engagement, encourage individual and group expression, and add to the overall sense of place. The pair has been commissioned for projects across the country, from light-based visual installations to large, physical interactive experiences.
The new public art installation at Durham Central Park will facilitate an interactive, engaging artistic experience in the heart of downtown Durham. Durham community members are invited to attend the “Meet the Artists Open House and Discussion” hosted by the City and Durham Central Park at Kompleks Creative, located at 106 West Parrish St., Suite 2, Durham. During this open house, the community will have the opportunity to meet Younse and Hiser, learn about the team’s artistic vision for this project, and provide comments to actively inform their design process.
To further help artists connect with opportunities, the City has a Durham Calls for Artists page on its website, which lists a number of upcoming opportunities for artists in and around Durham. Artists and other stakeholders who would like to be notified of current and future art-related opportunities and news can now sign up for alerts through the Cultural and Public Art mailing list.
For more information about the City’s Public Art Program, visit the City’s public art webpage. Artists interested in more information about the Public Art program may also contact Senior Economic Development Coordinator Brian Smith with the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development at (919) 560-4965, ext. 15205 or by email.
About SmART Vision Plan
In 2012, the City of Durham was selected as one of five cities in North Carolina to participate in the 2012 North Carolina Arts Council’s SmART Initiative to demonstrate how creative placemaking revitalizes downtowns and fuels sustainable economic development. The Durham Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Durham, Durham County, and multiple private partners and community stakeholders, worked with award winning landscape architect and urban designer Mikyoung Kim, creating a SmART Vision Plan which reimagines the rapidly transforming north-south corridor straight through downtown. For more information visit: https://www.smartdurham.org/
About Durham Central Park, Inc.
Durham Central Park, Inc., is a 501(c)3 organization that holds a management agreement to operate, develop, and program Durham Central Park ,a five-acre, city-owned park downtown. Durham Central Park features numerous gardens, paths and benches, open fields, kids play area, climbable sculptures, a skate park, and a large pavilion that is home to the farmers’ market and other community events.
About the City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development
Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development helps ensure that Durham has a strong and diverse economy by increasing the city’s tax base through several revitalization initiatives, including new development efforts in the central city area. The department also plans and promotes cultural awareness and events, identifies and recruits target industries as well as assesses and trains Durham residents to fill new jobs.
About the General Services Department
The General Services Department builds and maintains city properties to make Durham a great place for people to live, work and play. The department’s core functions include the acquisition and sale of properties, design and management of new construction and renovation projects, building maintenance, landscaping and urban forestry services, cemeteries management, sustainability and energy management, and supporting the nonprofit, Keep Durham Beautiful. For more information, visit: http://durhamnc.gov/733/.
About the City of Durham Public Art Committee
The Public Art Committee serves as an advisory body to the Durham City Council and the City Manager, and its functions include assisting the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development on matters relating to public art; implementation of the Public Art Policy; and reviewing proposals for public art projects brought to it by the City administration; and making recommendations to the Cultural Advisory Board regarding project approvals.
Cardinal Campaign Wrap Up
As our 2017 year end fundraising campaign (our annual Cardinal Campaign) wraps up, we are so humbled that the Durham community supports our efforts to manage and program Durham Central Park. We have raised nearly $30,000 through this year’s campaign! These funds will help us every day to work towards our mission of Providing Space for Community. From maintaining and improving a welcoming and accessible park in the heart of downtown, to providing high quality free programming, to safeguarding a space for Durham to be Durham, these funds will be spent wisely and carefully through the coming year.
And as a token of our appreciation, we want to say THANK YOU! Remember that video that we posted last fall with highlights of the 2017 season at the park? Well, here is it again just a little warm reminder on this cold day of good times from last year and a reminder that warm, fun days are ahead.
And if you haven’t had a chance to support the park through a donation, sponsorship of by volunteering, it’s not too late! There are many ways you can support the park – you can donate, become a park sustainer, sponsor an event, or volunteer at the park any time. Thank you so much for your support!
Next week, we’ll have some great announcements about a big project coming to the park this summer!
Street Closures and Big Machines!
For the past couple of weeks, the portion of Foster Street that runs through Durham Central Park has been closed. If you have had a chance to stroll through the park, you probably saw all the excavators, backhoes, dump trucks, giant holes, big dirt piles, and stacks of pipes. So, you may be wondering, “What is happening?!”
Waterline Replacement Underway
During the last several years, the City of Durham has been working on a massive waterline replacement project all through downtown. This winter, the replacement is barreling through Durham Central Park. For the next month or so, crews will be diligently working to upgrade the hundred+ year-old infrastructure with a new, modern piping system and the streets around the park (and a part of the park) will be torn up.
If you come to the park during the month of February to play, walk, eat or enjoy the Durham Farmers’ Market, you will notice a big hole in the ground in the grassy area to the north of the pavilion (the home of the Durham Craft Market). You will also notice that several trees have come out in the process. Sadly, the trees that made up the Sister Cities Grove were planted right over a huge storm drain in need of replacement. In the coming months, DCP, Inc. will be working with Durham’s Sister Cities organization to identify new trees to replace those that were lost. As soon as we can, we will plant new ones out of the path of underground utilities. Additionally, on March 2nd, we will be working with Durham’s Urban Forestry Department to plant 25 new trees on the east side of the park!
Come Check It Out!
All of this work in the park is projected to be finished by early March. In order to stay on schedule, the crews will likely be working on the weekends (outside of farmers’ market hours). So, if you (or your kids) love to watch big machines hard at work, we highly recommend scheduling a visit to the park very soon! It’s not often that you get such a great view of so many machines! Climb up on Mount Merrill for the best view.
Finally, we can’t thank the City, the engineers, and the workers enough for timing this portion of the waterline replacement project for the middle of winter. We are glad that they are getting things upgraded and we are also looking forward to the park being put back together in the spring. And THANK YOU so much for your patience with this process!
Friday, June 29, Valerie June headlines PLAYlist, Durham Central Park’s free, annual concert series. “Valerie June perfected her handsomely idiosyncratic brand of Americana on this second LP, steeped deep in electric blues and old-time folk, gilded in country twang and gospel yearning. The press-repeat standout is “Astral Plane,” with its woozy reverb and disarmingly tender, flying-on-the-ground vocals. “Shakedown” is an impressionist juke-joint party jam. But the headiest moments are “If And,” which taps into Tuareg styles to map African sounds from old world, to new, then ’round again; and “Got Soul,” a matter-of-fact re-braiding of Southern musical history with banjo, fiddle and Stax/Volt brass. Who knew musicology could feel so good?” — Rolling Stone
Rain or shine. Local craft beer vendors and food trucks on site. Full series lineup, June 8-August 10, TBA!
Since songwriting comes to you in this way, do you have a bunch of phone recordings or a little field recorder you keep on you when you get ideas?
I usually just do it on my iPhone when I’m getting a song. I pull out my phone and sing into it real quick, because things can make the voice leave me, like if a car comes thumping down the street and gets a song playing in there, I get off the channel of what I was receiving.
Wish you had a GoPro on your head every time you enjoyed a Food Truck Rodeo, free concert, Farmers Market, parade, wedding or simply being at Durham Central Park? Storyboard Media captured Durham Central Park in this Year In Review: A Place for Durham To Be Durham.
For nearly 20 years, this city-owned park has been managed, developed and programmed by Durham Central Park, Inc. a 501c3 non-profit organization. With the overwhelming support of the community, DCP Inc. has spent years working towards our mission of Providing Space for Community. If you’re as moved by this video as we are, please donate to our end of year Cardinal Campaign.
Durham’s chic rooftops, offices, restaurants, event spaces, private homes and Durham Central Park were the backdrop for 16 ticketed meals that raised more than $30,000 this fall for Durham Central Park, Inc. As a 501(c)3 organization, DCP Inc. relies on fundraisers like these plus the generosity of local residents and businesses to sustain the park. DCP, Inc. receives no funding from the City of Durham to manage, develop and program the park. Therefore, events like Meals from the Market are key to meeting the park’s fundraising goals every year. Thank you!
Local business sponsors including Urban Durham Realty, Kompleks Creative, Inc., Acme Plumbing Co., Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs and Coulter Jewell Thames PA. helped offset costs, enabling DCP to provide space for community, which includes:
- Continuing to maintain and improve an already amazing urban park;
- Working hard to ensure that the park is accessible to everyone;
- Hosting enjoyable, free events to enliven the park and enrich the community;
- Offering an affordable and attractive venue in the heart of downtown; and
- Safeguarding a place for people to gather in celebration or rally around a shared belief, meet up with friends or just be alone for a moment, appreciate public art or simply play in nature—a place for Durham to be Durham.