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.