DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As Dr. Henry McKoy stood near the corner of East Umstead and Grant Streets in Durham, he glanced over at a gated and overgrown site, formerly known as Fayette Place.
“I just see a tremendous opportunity. I see hope. I see opportunity to really catalyze the community,” he said looking at the property.
“What I see also is an opportunity for the community to reclaim and regroup from what was really taken from them years ago,” McKoy said.
McKoy is the executive director of the Durham Global Equity Project.
Their mission is to redevelop the Hayti community in Durham with plans of spending more than a billion dollars.
The project would be completed through four phases over eight years on roughly 2,000 acres of property.
The former Fayette Place location is designated for phase one and would include housing, an innovation academy, a grocery store, office, and retail space.
“We are in the process now of trying to get site control. This land is owned by the Durham Housing Authority,” McKoy explained.
However, McKoy said the organization has the investors at the table to help with all four phases.
“We have been very lucky. Folks continue to show up on a regular basis to say ‘hey, we want to be a part of this’,” he said.
In the early 20th century, the Hayti community was home to hundreds of Black-owned businesses.
However, with the start of urban renewal in the late 1950s, many businesses and homes here were torn down.
“We’ve seen billions of dollars invested in downtown Durham and virtually no money invested here. So, it’s not going after billions for the sake of billions, but at the same time it says this community deserves this type of investment,” McKoy added.
McKoy said depending on how things go when it comes to land acquisition, the Durham Global Equity Project hopes work can start next year.
In the later phases, the goal is to build a HAYTI museum, a research lab, and an event center.
For more information on the project, click here.