DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – What may look like an old, boarded up, rusted out building in Durham could play a significant role in the future of downtown.

Heather Rodrigues, a pastor at the church across the street, and many others question what the former police headquarters will look like. 

“Together, we ask ‘how might the last significant publicly-owned piece of property in downtown be used for good things for all Durham people?'” Rodrigues told City Council members at Thursday’s work session.

Known as North Carolina’s first skyscraper of its kind in downtown Durham, the structure at 505 West Chapel Hill Street continues to be a hot topic for redevelopment.

But officials are inching closer to giving it a new purpose. Thursday, the City Council discussed its vision for the vacant five-story building. 

That includes at least 80 affordable housing units, historic preservation and commercial space. 

“We hope you’ll focus on housing and affordable housing as the highest and best use of this publicly-owned property,” another man told the Council.

Built in the late 1950s, the city estimates it will cost nearly $23 million to rehab the building. 

Currently, several developers are vying for the chance to reimagine the four-acre property that includes its parking lots.

“We definitely need a grocery store downtown,” City Council member Leonardo Williams said about the project. “Obviously, we all talked about housing.”

The future design might also include a Durham history museum. The list of potential developers is now narrowed down to six. 



“Let’s use this publicly owned land for good things for all people,” Rodrigues said.

Because the old headquarters isn’t climate-controlled, the city tells CBS 17 the cost of maintenance is currently minimal.

It’s expected to be about two years before shovels hit the ground.