by Lisa Sorg
Durham Housing Authority, Fayette Place, Campus Apartments, Hayti, Rolling Hills, South Side, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, N.C. Central University What’s up with Fayette Place?
The short answer is nothing, even though Campus Apartments, one of the largest student housing developers in the U.S., has owned the 20-acre site for more than three years.
The property and apartments, once owned by the Durham Housing Authority, was razed last year and the lot on Fayetteville Street in the Hayti neighborhood has sat vacant since. Peppered with dirt, concrete and rocks, the site looks like a moonscape encased by a crumbling brick wall, which is in turn enclosed in a chain-link fence.
As reported previously in the Indy, in 2007, DHA sold the property for $4 million to for-profit company Campus Apartments, which planned to build affordable housing for low-income N.C. Central students.
But N.C. Central officials said this week they are not participating in the project. And according to the agreement between DHA and Campus Apartments, the Philadelphia—based company has to build a housing complex for other low-income residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the deal, but only with the affordable housing component.
Campus Apartments spokesperson would say only that the company “is looking at all of its options,” but refused to elaborate on what those options are.
With federal approval, Campus Apartments could convert part of the complex to general commercial uses, including shops and restaurants, as long as the housing portion includes 168 low-income residences. However, Campus Apartments would need to apply for a rezoning, which it has not, according to the Durham City-County Planning Department.
Several other companies were interested in buying that property, according to public documents, but DHA received a waiver from HUD to negotiate exclusively with Campus Apartments.
McCormack Baron Salazar, which is trying to redevelop Rolling Hills, was among those interested in Fayette Place. The languishing of that lot, which is only a few blocks from Rolling Hills, eventually could hinder the redevelopment of Hayti and the South Side.
“In the short term, it doesn’t impact us,” said Karl Schlachter, McCormack Baron Salazar senior vice president. “But long term that’s a concern.”