Durham’s West Ends sees property values spike

(Justin Quesinberry/CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Home values are soaring in one of Durham’s hottest neighborhoods, the West End, but some say the real price is being paid by longtime residents and people in need of affordable housing.

Several new businesses are going into renovated spaces along West Chapel Hill Street.

“We are really happy to see a bunch of other new, locally-owned businesses move in. it’s certainly going to liven up the block a bit,” said Leila Wolfrum, general manager of the Durham Co-Op Market, which opened two years ago.

“People have been shopping on West Chapel Hill Street for decades, but we certainly upped the volume,” she said.


Across the street a new yogurt shop, coffee shop and restaurant are going in.

The City of Durham has contributed a total of $249,000 over the past year to economic development projects, including $49,000 to the yogurt and coffee shops.

Some of the projects the city help pay for promise new jobs – at least 45 total along the stretch of road in the next five years.

“It’s a double-edged sword because it creates values that displace people,” said Lanier Blum.

She said she once live in a house in Durham’s West End that recently sold for five what she paid three decades ago.

“It tells me that I couldn’t afford to live here anymore if I had to move in today,” she said.

Courtney James, broker/owner of Urban Durham Realty, said rough data shows the average price per square foot is about double what it was a decade ago:

2007-2010 = $72 per square foot
2011-2013 = $104 per square foot
2014-2016 = $165 per square foot.

James said the opening of new places, including the Co-op and The Cookery, are reason for the increase.

Blum is interim development manager for Durham Community Land Trustees, which buys and fixes up houses to sell and rent at affordable prices, something the organization has done in the West End since its founding 30 years ago.

“In the West End, we can no longer afford to acquire property. So, the affordable housing that is here now is probably all there will be for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Now, the organization is looking to other areas of Durham to continue its mission.

Wolfum said the changes can be seen both as revitalization and gentrification, impacting different people in different ways.

“We are very cognizant of that impact. We try to address it by making sure that we employ people who live in the neighborhood and that we are as welcoming and affordable as we can be,” she said.

Wolfum said that includes a 20 percent discount for customers who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), low prices on 400 basic food items, and weekly $3 dinners on Thursday nights for the community.

Below is information the city provided to CBS North Carolina about the three economic development projects the city helped pay for through the City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development for the West Chapel Hill Street Targeted Neighborhood Commercial corridor:

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