St. Louis developer McCormack Baron Salazar presented a schedule for moving the Rolling Hills/Southside revitalization project ahead on Wednesday, but said it needs 14 more days to prepare specifics for the City Council.
Those specifics include how to cover the $325,000 McCormark Baron was supposed to raise for its share of the planning cost. In more than 18 months since the city approinted McCormack Baron to lead the Rolling Hills/Southside project, the company hasn't been able to find the money.
City Councilman Farad Ali told company representatives that, after that delay, they have a lot to do to regain the community's trust.
"It's the big elephant in the room," Ali said.
McCormack Baron executives Stan Mulvihill and Sandra Moore acknowledged that failure and said efforts to find money had been stymied by last fall's economic collapse.
Joe Parker, steering committee member and a board member of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, said he left the meeting with a "wait and see" impression.
"It's interesting to see what may come of this, regarding the City Council move," he said.
Tom Gallas, a consultant working with McCormack Baron, suggested a planning process to start in September and finish by the end of the year, including a week-long charette to involve the public in the revitalization project's design.
Ray Eurquhart, the only steering committee member present who lives in the project area, liked the public-involvement part.
"The charetting part, for me, that's where the pedal hits the metal," he said after the meeting. Having a plan, he said, the community can move ahead whether or not McCormack Baron is involved.
Preparatory to redevelopment, the city has appropriated up to $6 million to buy out property owners and relocate residents in the dilapidated subdivision just south of the Durham Freeway. Since early 2008, all but five of the 51 private properties have been bought or are under contract.
The city has also applied for$34 million in federal stimulus money for the project. Word on its approval is expected by the end of the year, but even if the grant is approved the city must have a specific plan of action to get the money, City Manager Tom Bonfield said this morning.
The revitalization project involves clearing and redeveloping that 20-acre tract as well as redeveloping parts of the adjacent Southside neighborhood. The area involved was the heart of Hayti, Durham's original black neighborhood, much of which was demolished during Urban Renewal in the 1970s.
Read more about Rolling Hills/Southside in Saturday's Durham News.