Monday night, October 12 was an epic night in Durham County’s history. The Durham County Board of Commissioners started the epic night by participating in a signing ceremony to formally execute the Public-Private Projects Agreement between Durham County Government and Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina.

On September 28, 2015, the Commissioners approved an Agreement for Park Center Phase I Public-Private Projects. The Agreement provides for the County to invest $20 Million dollars over a ten-year period in partnership with Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) as a match to funds RTF will invest for infrastructure needed to implement Phase I of the new Master Plan mixed-use community for Research Triangle Park (RTP). Park Center Phase I is an exciting plan designed to re-energize RTP and ignite future job grow.

Earlier, the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina (RTF) announced that it has secured $50 million for the Park Center Development. These funds will allow for mobilization at the site to begin in January 2016. The first phase of development of the 100 acre Park Center, prominently located in the center of the world renowned Research Triangle Park. Park Center is located in the heart of North America’s largest science park which was purchased by RTF in January 2014. This was the same year, the Brookings Institution named Research Triangle Park one of seven burgeoning Innovation Districts in the United States for their re-imagining of the modern science park. Park Center will be the first major redevelopment in RTP’s history, and will bring together private industry, universities, government and all of North Carolina in an inspiring setting at the heart of the Triangle.

In keeping with historic tradition, this $50 million achievement was made possible through a series of public-private partnerships. Funds have been raised as a result of three local efforts:

  • $20 million to be allocated from Durham County to be used to build public infrastructure in the 100-acre development.
  • $10 million from the Durham-Wake Counties Research and Production Service District for open and park space.
  • $20 million as a result of land purchases and site work provided by the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina.

Phase I of Park Center, which will be located on the east side of the property, is slated to include many amenities that are currently absent from RTP’s 7,000 acres. In addition to previously announced amenities such as retail and restaurants, Park Center will also include new public parks, a central marketplace, multifamily residential and hotels.

Shortly afterwards, the Commission unanimously approved a Public/Private Project Agreement with Wexford Science and Technology for a reported $80 million adaptive reuse of the Chesterfield Building and the construction of a new parking deck to support the reuse project. Earlier this month the City of Durham approved a development agreement with Wexford to support the project. The project will return to the market 284,000 square feet of mixed-use space vacant since 1999 and already approximately 49% of the space is pre-leased. Wexford is a private real estate investment and development company that meets the growing and specialized facilities needs of for-profit and not-for-profit institutions, including universities, university-related research parks, healthcare systems, entrepreneurs and private companies.

Within a few minutes, the Commission approved a Public/Private Project Agreement with Longfellow Real Estate Partners for the first phase of the Durham.ID District that will result in the construction of a two new office/lab buildings totaling 271,000 square feet and a new 820 space parking deck to support the project. Longfellow will be investing approximately $95 million for the Phase I of the Durham.ID District. The City of Durham also approved a development agreement with Longfellow earlier this month. Longfellow provides space solutions for science and technology companies and focuses on the most innovative cluster locations in the US. The firm acquires and develops facilities in strategic locations and builds long-term relationships with research centric organizations including life science companies, universities, medical centers and research institutes. Longfellow has already adaptively reused the former Liggett & Myers Main Street Lab and the Carmichael Building by providing research space for Duke University.

With the span of a few short moments the future of the Research Triangle Park and Downtown Durham had been re imagined and reshaped and Durham’s economic future itself had been further enhanced.