DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Construction is set to begin in the coming months on two new affordable housing complexes at 300 and 500 E. Main in the heart of downtown Durham. 

Durham County will be converting two county-owned parking lots into affordable housing complexes and county officials have selected Laurel Street Residential in Charlotte to develop the complexes.

At 300 E. Main, construction is set to start this fall on 105 affordable housing units that will go at that location. Construction has already begun on a new 800-space parking garage that will accompany the complex.

The units will be income-restricted to those making 30-80 percent of the area median income (AMI). 

“Rent for a one bedroom will probably start in the $750 per month range, and for three bedrooms it will go up to $1800 a month,” Ronn Stewart said, Sr. Vice President of Development for Laurel Streets Residential. 

Stewart said there will also be a childcare center that will go on the ground level floor of the complex. 

A childcare center will go on the ground level of a complex being built (Graphic provided by Crystal Price).

Just a couple blocks down at 500 E. Main, construction will start next month on a complex for market-rate housing by the company ZOM, but next to it, Laurel Street Residential will soon begin construction on another affordable housing complex.

Stewart said this complex will include 195 affordable units and all the amenities that would typically come with higher-end housing.

“When you look at the architectural design of the building and you look at the amenities, that include on-site leasing, storage units, a fitness center, a resident’s lounge, it’s a higher-end living experience, but at an affordable price,” Stewart said. 

Clarence Laney, who is pastor at Monument of Faith Church and who is with Durham Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods (Durham CAN), has long advocated for more affordable housing in downtown Durham. 

“If you drive in downtown Durham, you will see these wonderful high-rises and all of these upscale apartments, but what you will not see is affordable housing,” Laney said. “So those who work in the service industry downtown, cannot afford to live in downtown.” 

According to the latest data CBS 17 obtained from Downtown Durham, Inc., there are 4,521 market-rate residential units in or adjacent to downtown, but only 877 affordable units. 

Durham building a new garage to accompany a new housing structure (Crystal Price).

When it comes to units that are under construction or in the pipeline, there are 4,355 market-rate units and only 508 affordable units. 

“I think it’s a drop in the bucket when you think of the number of units in Downtown Durham and the number of units that are affordable,” Laney said. 

Laney said he hopes the construction of these two affordable housing projects will help bring even more to downtown Durham. 

“I certainly do believe it is the beginning to a great partnership,” Laney said. 

Stewart said that once construction starts in the fall on the housing units at 300 E. Main, a website will be launched where prospective residents can sign up. 

He said completion of both complexes at 300 and 500 E. Main will be sometime in 2024.