Dependable Erection

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Durham Central Market news

Got some news over the past few days that the Durham Central Market, a new co-op attempting to get off the ground in town, has settled on a location. (I'm an owner/founding member/whatever you call it of the market, but not at all involved in any decision making aspect.)

The new site is at the corner of Mangum and Broadway, a currently vacant lot just south of Little Five Points.

I'm pretty happy about this location, because it's just on the edge of walking distance from my house (1.1 miles), and a much more pleasant walk (especially after the city finishes its planned sidewalk construction in my 'hood over the next year or so) than the shorter walk under the freeway to Compare Foods.

But a couple of thoughts occur. First, how much parking is the Planning Department going to require for a grocery store at that location? I hope the co-op asks for a waiver from whatever number the city and county come up with, and make an attempt to minimize the parking lot footprint on the site.

Second, Mangum is a one-way street. Manageable in a car, but for patrons who live north of the site, and want to use public transportation, you're either stuck heading home with your grocery bags via the downtown terminal, or schlepping your bags a couple of footbal fields over to Roxboro and Dowd. You'd hope that one of the advantages of locating a grocery store in this part of town is that it would give those residents who don't drive a more convenient option than a taxi to Kroger or Compare. But for some of our elderly residents, this is still going to be problematic.

Hopefully, the Market folks will add their names to the growing list of people who think converting Mangum and Roxboro back to two way streets makes sense.

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  • Hmm. I'd rather hoped it would be closer to downtown.

    By Blogger Jeremy T, at 3:14 PM  

  • I'll encourage any DCM folks who want to chime in add their perspectives, but my understanding is that the few vacant parcels closer to downtown are going for astronomical prices.

    I'm not sure what property owners are smoking in Durham these days, but we're a lot further away from being the new Portland than some of these folks seem to think.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:20 PM  

  • Well, it's not like I haven't already added my name to those wanting Mangum to be two-way. But it's pretty clear that that's going to require the East End Connector to be built.

    As for it being closer to downtown, all I can say is that if you look at the box we drew that was our target area, we looked at every single little scrap of land in that box, and a fair number of pieces outside that box. There is no perfect site, but this one meets our most fundamental criteria. As it is, believe it or not, the site is a scant three blocks north of City Hall.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 9:54 PM  

  • hasnt it been said that the parcel is planned to include 60 parking spaces?

    i'm looking forward to finally being able to roll my upright granny cart over there for groceries. Growing up in queens, these were indispensible for us. we always rolled it over to the Key Food with us, and all of the carts in the store had a pair of S-Hooks hanging at the front for you to be able to hang your folded cart while you shopped...a cheap and practical bit for the DCM owners to keep in mind for future reference. :)

    By Blogger Vera, at 8:52 AM  

  • @Michael: I don't doubt that you guys made the best decision, I just wish there would've been something viable "within the loop." That whole area still seems marginal to me; restaurants are great and all, but they're not the sort of always-on draw that could generate enough traffic to support smaller retail.

    And also, I have an ulterior motive: I'm on the other side of downtown, which makes this less convenient to me personally :)

    By Blogger Jeremy T, at 9:12 AM  

  • @Vera - 60 freakin' parking spaces!? That's about a half acre parking lot, right in the middle of the downtown stormwater donut hole.

    I'm assuming that the parcel being purchased includes all of the other lots currently owned by TTP along Mangum, Broadway, and Hunt. But even with that, we're looking at about half of the surface area being turned into a parking lot.

    Christ on a crutch, it's 2010, not 1960. Let's see some forward thinking here.

    @Michael - this will of course be a huge boon for the Cleveland - Holloway and Little Five Points folks who will now have a grocery store in easy walking distance. Hope it doesn't drive up property values too quickly or too much for some of those people.

    @Jeremy - don't know how much further away you are than i am in the opposite direction. As i said earlier, even though Compare and Red & White are closer, they are a much less attractive option because they are not walkable, and a pain in the ass to drive to through the current Avondale/Roxboro disaster of an intersection. In fact, when i do go to either of those stores, i usually approach from Club Blvd. after i've run other errands.

    It's really sad that the best we can do with that prime piece of real estate is expand a parking lot in a fast food joint and call it economic development.

    By Blogger Barry, at 11:53 AM  

  • Yep, 60 spaces. I'm not happy about it either, but there's really not much help for it. The way I look at it, most people probably take about 20 car trips a week, altogether. If you held a gun to people's head and made them give up 19 of those car trips for some other mode of transportation, the one most people would keep is the trip to the grocery store. It's one thing to walk 20 minutes to work with a briefcase, quite another to get home with five bags of groceries.

    We will build the building out to the sidewalk, and hide the parking as much as possible. This isn't just something I'll insist on (and I will), but it's also required by the new downtown build standards.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 1:15 PM  

  • I put the whole site at 1.2 - 1.3 acres. Can you shoehorn 60 spaces into less than half an acre?

    By Blogger Barry, at 1:19 PM  

  • We're actually only taking 1 acre of it. The previous owner is keeping the corner of Hunt and Mangum for development, but our chunk has access to Hunt on the back side.

    That's enough for 60 spaces, the building, open space, loading dock, accesses, and the required landscaping for the parking lot. We don't have a site plan settled, so I can't really answer specifics on that.

    Yes, it's a lot of parking. Yes, that sucks. No, there's no way we can do with less.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 1:31 PM  

  • No, there's no way we can do with less.

    Legally, or from a business perspective?

    By Blogger Barry, at 1:36 PM  

  • @Barry:

    I'm over near West Chapel Hill St., near the 'ol People's Intergalactic Food Conspiracy. Over here, we're much closer to Whole Foods, which I consider to be within "not wasting an inordinate amount of time by walking" distance (just) at about a mile away.

    DCM looks to be about 1.5-2 miles out, and it's an ugly route that I'm realistically unlikely to ever walk. That means fighting lights and one way roads in the car or bike, which is no fun.

    It's no deal breaker or anything, I just would love something more convenient. As many problems as the old DFC had, at least it was really close.

    By Blogger Jeremy T, at 5:15 PM  

  • Vera, do you know where you can buy those carts around here? I'd been thinking I could get one and start walking to the Red & White (and eventually to DCM as well). They were de rigeur for the elderly Chinese ladies on Clement St. in San Francisco when I was living there, and I'm thinking one would come in handy here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:58 PM  

  • Which of those people in my hood Barry?

    The property flippers who live in other neighborhoods and are profiting off our community organizing, the absentee landlords who rent places that don't meet minimum housing code, or the folks on fixed incomes who get exemptions anyway?

    Just sayin'...

    By Blogger Natalie and Harris, at 11:43 PM  

  • That bad, huh?

    I keep hearing that C-H is being rehabbed the right way, without displacing the old timers. Guess that's only one side of the story.

    By Blogger Barry, at 7:59 AM  

  • The neighborhood still has a lot of old time slum lords, so displacing those folks wouldn't be too bad at all.

    Most of our owner occupiers have been in their homes for x<18 months or 15+ yrs. There are a few people who fall out of that range (like myself who is hitting 8 years in four weeks). For folks who have lived in their homes for years, most of whom have paid them off or used the equity to help out errant children, a raise in property values isn't a bad thing. Their mortgage (if they have one) does not go up with the property values and no one is being encouraged to sell and move out. An increase here actually creates a means for intergenerational wealth transfer, such as when my next door neighbor, who bought his home for 17k in the 1990s passed away and left his house to his three sons who currently live there.

    Our neighborhood is a safe bet for people from other hoods to come in and flip properties. We're organized, the houses are cute, and you can't beat our proximitity to Downtown. However, flippers are greedy and are trying to maximize their profit. They sell at a high cost and suddenly the new owners have no ability to build equity but are super excited to have a rehabbed house in a cool neighborhood.

    So what you really have is an economic danger for the new owners and wealth creation for folks who have been there for years.

    By Blogger Natalie and Harris, at 9:35 AM  

  • MrsD. I am 90% certain I have seen those old skool wire carts at good ole Copare Foods (where you can get some surprising things like the biggest stock pot you've ever seen and even those blue food grade barrels that you can use as rain barrels). but i actually feel like i've seen them at places like big lots and even fancier coated ones at Target. possibly rose's? the search begins!

    By Blogger Vera, at 10:35 AM  

  • Just a quick FYI about Roses': It's owned by the Pope family. Same ones who fund the John Locke Foundation, Americans For Prosperity, and other climate change denying, anti-government right wing astroturf organizations.

    Just sayin'.

    By Blogger Barry, at 10:49 AM  

  • well, that's good to know.

    By Blogger Vera, at 11:21 AM  

  • @Natalie - i guess the people i'm thinking about would be those for whom driving is not an option.

    Nice to have some place in (more or less) walking distance to buy groceries.

    Certainly a lot better than having a fast food joint decide to take up residence on that strip. Certainly most of our current City Council would consider that to be an economic opportunity.

    By Blogger Barry, at 1:29 PM  

  • I look forward to finding Eat Local Y'all litter on my neighborhood cleanup instead of wrappers for the Mcdouble juicy grease burger.

    I love the location, the market & its vision, and can't wait to shop there :)

    By Blogger Natalie and Harris, at 6:11 AM  

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