Durham leaders ask city to invest millions to develop blighted land

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Wednesday, more than 100 members of the Durham community as well as community leaders asked the city to make changes to a plot of land they say has been blighted and eyesore for nearly a decade.

“This area used to be a basketball court,” said Tamario Howze.

Howze, grew up at Fayette Place. As an adult he traveled the country working as an engineer, but he says he’s left that career and came back home to Durham to pursue ministry.

He says his old backyard at Fayette Place is where he feels he is most needed.

“You still see a vacant lot where nothing is promising from what we see,” said Howze.

But it’s not just Howze, many members of the community feel a the lot needs to be changed.

During a press conference organized by Durham CAN, more than hundred people called for the city to take action and develop this land specifically with the interest of the people who live closest to the lot.

“We’re tired of our community being over looked and neglected. We’re tired of witnessing the millions of dollars pouring into downtown Durham and this area is blighted and undeveloped,” said Bishop Clarence Laney.

In 2007, a Philadelphia based company called Campus Apartments, bought the lot for $4 million with the promise of building affordable housing; that never happened.

“They left it as a vast wasteland,” said Durham Councilmember Steve Schewel.

Schewel says the possible millions of dollars it would cost the city to buy this land would be worth it.

“The housing authority would own this property wand with some development partners could redevelop this with affordable housing and also with a mixed use development that would bring jobs to this community,” he said.

And for people like Howze, who grew up in the area, they say they are excited with the possible change.

“This place for me coming back it’s sort of like a place of hope,” he said.

Campus Apartments say there was a plan to develop the land into affordable housing, but it didn’t work out and they have no current plans to develop the lot.

They do say they share the community’s desire to develop the land and are open to discussing ideas.

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