Newsletter/Blog Post

Public/private partnership with Durham, NC for the revitalization of a downtown neighborhood. 

Sadie Tillery Photo Courtesy of Center for Documentary Studies

Sadie Tillery Photo Courtesy of Center for Documentary Studies

Looking Up and Out from Southside

Sadie Tillery understands craftsmanship and innovation.

As the director of programming for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, she views hundreds of documentary films every year and travels throughout the US and Canada attending film festivals. Tillery started working for the festival as an intern in college and moved here after she graduated to work on the festival full-time, eventually becoming a director.  Her position puts her in contact with the best documentary film makers in the world.

Now she’s taking on a new role – that of homeowner and the first person to reserve a B. Wallace Design & Construction home in Durham’s Southside redevelopment project. In a few weeks, work on her new home will start, to be followed by 47 more new single family homes. This first-phase of the multiphase neighborhood development centers on South Street, one block south of Lakewood Avenue.

“I’m excited about my new home and the Southside project,” Tillery said. “The idea of owning a new home, put up by a great builder and in a location close to downtown and my office at the American Tobacco Campus was a perfect fit for me.”

The city partnered with Self-Help Credit Union, acquiring over 10 acres in Southside that were largely populated by abandoned houses. The Southside new homes project is part of a larger redevelopment initiative that stretches from Roxboro Road on the east to South Street on the west. The first phase of the overall 125 acre redevelopment site includes 48 single-family homes, 198 mixed-income rental units, and 13 live-work units.

Speaking during the official opening of the Southside new homes project, Southside Neighborhood Association president Marie Hunter said to the assembled crowd, “With you and the help of the City of Durham, Self-Help and numerous community partners, brighter days are ahead for the Southside neighborhood.”

To provide affordable new homes in the community, the city of Durham's Office of Community Development is offering an innovative financing arrangement for homeowners who fall below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), consisting of lower mortgage rates, grants, and other incentives. Fifty-one percent of the new homes will be sold to these homeowners with the remainder going to homeowners with standard financing.

“This neighborhood represents all the things I love about Durham,” Tillery said, “close community ties, creativity, and keeping it local. I’ll be able to see the downtown skyline from my front porch and be part of an expanding community of neighbors and friends.” 

There are skeptics who question the ability of the development to change the character of Southside with its longstanding reputation for drug-related activity. But a growing group of people see this as a real turning point in the neighborhood and an opportunity to invest in a place with potential and proximity to all that downtown Durham offers. Perhaps those with an eye for innovation and craftsmanship are on to something.

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