Behind a red door in a nondescript building on Chapel Hill Road, there is a lot of ruckus going on.
Rhys Botica, who owns several Durham bars—the Federal,
Social Gameroom & Tap,
Surf Club and the Criterion, which just opened last week—has purchased the 4,320-square-foot building at 1820 Chapel Hill Road. Durham property records confirm
that Botica's company, Greywhite, LLC owns the building
, which was constructed in 1973. That has raised questions whether he plans to open a bar in the Lakewood neighborhood.
Lakewood lies just two miles from downtown Durham but has not found its commercial footing since the late 1990s when the shopping center declined because of neglect. (Full disclosure: I've lived in the neighborhood since 2006.) However, the Scrap Exchange, which opened in the former cinema/Duke Surplus Store, could spark a revival in that community.
The area is racially and economically diverse: Forest Hills, a wealthy neighborhood, is a half-mile away; Lyon Park and Lakewood proper are a mix of working-class and middle-class homes that border Chapel Hill Road. Low-income apartment complexes lie to the north and west of the shopping center.
I'm trying to track down Botica for comment. I spoke to a worker onsite this morning who said it is going to be an office building. The city-county planning department says it has issued a interior demolition permit for the property, but has no additional information on its use. Stay tuned.