3 Futures for the Old Police HQ (505 Chapel Hill St)

A big thanks to my friend Dan Smith at 919 Commercial Real Estate for bringing this to my attention!

The city released a presentation on the redevelopment of the old police HQ last week. Below are some details, the different options under consideration, and some of my thoughts.

Downtown/Morehead Hill/West End

Expected Completion Date:
Late 2019/Early 2020

Scenario A

Residential: 100 units
Office: 178,000 sf
Retail: 24,000 sf
Community Use: 12,000 sf
Parking: 970 spaces in a 4-level shared-use deck (open to public nights & weekends)

Size: New office tower would be 7 stories tall

Existing Building: Retained and renovated

Open Space: 1 acre pocket park at corner of W. Chapel Hill St. and Gregson St.

Total Jobs Supported by Program: 800

Cost: $70.2m

City Revenue Generated (2018-2038): $6.8m

Scenario B

Residential: 120 units
Office: 328,000 sf
Retail: 41,700 sf
Community Use: 13,600 sf
Parking: 1,080 spaces in a 6-level shared-use deck (opencto public nights & weekends)

Size: Higher density, including a new 12-story office building.

Existing Building: Demolished

Open Space: 1.1 acre public park along Gregson St.

Total Jobs Supported by Program: 1,450

Cost: $99.6m

City Revenue Generated (2018-2038): $18.4m

Scenario C

Residential: 140 units
Office: 339,500 sf
Retail: 28,000 sf
Community Use: 12,000 sf
Parking: 1,260 spaces in a 7-level shared-use deck (open to public nights & weekends)

Size: Higher density, including a new 15-story office building.

Existing Building: Retained

Open Space: 1 acre pocket park at corner of W. Chapel Hill St. and Gregson St.

Total Jobs Supported by Program: 1,450

Cost: Not produced for this report

City Revenue Generated (2018-2038): $19.7m

My first reaction is that I hope they do NOT go with Scenario A. There would be fewer units, less office and retail space, less revenue generated. The only positives that I see are that it costs less in the short run (seems a bit short-sited) and some people may argue that it is a good thing to keep the building at 7 stories. Personally, I have already stated my views on density. I think we need more residential and more office space in Durham because the lack of both right now are driving prices sky-high.

Both Scenario B and C seem reasonable. It's too bad that they didn't run the cost estimate on Scenario C. Putting that key piece aside, I lean towards Scenario B. I realize that the old police HQ is viewed by some as "historic", but I don't think it is all that attractive and I would much rather focus on preserving the many other historic, beautiful buildings in Durham and see if we can make something new and iconic for the city here.

In addition, Durham would get a lot more retail space with Scenario B and comparable amounts of residential and office space.

Before we even get to the scenarios above, the city is still contemplating different approaches to the development: selling outright to a developer (and using the proceeds to go towards cost-effective affordable housing), selling with affordable housing stipulations (lowering the price they would get, which makes the affordable housing really expensive per unit, but keeping affordable units near public transportation), and subdividing the land (part of the land goes to affordable housing, part gets sold outright).

Charlie Reece of the Durham City Council outlines the options in more detail here. Essentially, it appears there is a lot of work and many decisions to be made with regards to the old police headquarters.

What do you hope to see happen at 505 Chapel Hill St? Leave a comment or shoot me and email with your thoughts!

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