Owners prep Durham land for 4M-square-foot mega development with thousands of homes

A group of Durham property owners is seeking a rezoning to prep land to sell for what could become a massive development.

Patrick Byker, with Morningstar Law Firm, and Dan Jewell, of Thomas and Hutton engineering, are working with the owners to apply for a rezoning for 86 acres in southwest Durham near the Interstate 40 and Highway 54 interchange. The group is looking to rezone the site, which is close to Chapel Hill, to compact suburban design from residential suburban 20. 

The new zoning would allow for up to 4.5 million square feet of residential, commercial and life sciences space, according to a growth management pre-submittal document. The maximum number of residential units allowed would be 4,100.

The group of owners, about 10 total, is applying for the zoning to help regulate the shape, orientation and height of a potential future project. Jewell said the goal is to see the land turned into a walkable community with a village center. The compact suburban design choice came as a result of wanting to put in place a framework that would create an urban neighborhood.

The property is spread over 14 lots at 5901, 5909, 5521, 5525, 5543, 5547 and 5553 George King Road and 5514, 5516, 5517, 5518, 5602, 5606 and 5623 Wendell Road. There are a handful of single-family homes on-site, but most of the area is forested. The total assessed value is about $3.6 million.

Jared Harris, one of the property owners, has owned 64 acres for almost 50 years with a steady stream of purchase offers from developers. He and another owner, Curtis Booker, have been working to rezone and prepare land for sale since 2004.

Harris said the owners want to see it become a mix of residential and commercial with the residential built first so that it can support future retail. Byker said the rezoning would likely go before Durham City Council in mid-2024 and then the owners would slowly start piecemeal selling the property to various developers.

“We own the land aside from paying taxes, we own it free and clear. We can afford to be patient, we don’t have financial pressure on us to get something done and get out,” Harris said. “Once we sell it to a developer, they are under that kind of financial pressure. … We’d like everything that goes in to be something that is sustainable over the long term. We don’t need to agree to anything just because of financial necessity.”

Leigh Village

The rezoning is for 86 acres in southwest Durham that a group of property owners is setting up to be a future mixed-use development.

Morningstar Law Firm

The area is ripe for more commercial projects as development spreads outward from The Streets at Southpoint Mall, which will see major transformation over the next few years. Along N.C. Highway 751 are plans for Aura 751, a multifamily project with 350 units.

And directly adjacent to the property for the proposed rezoning is Tri Pointe Homes’ Twinleaf Townes project.


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