Central Campus Development

August 1, 2004

In the spring, Duke officials unveiled a proposed fifty-year plan for the development of Central Campus before an audience of area residents, neighborhood leaders, and business owners gathered at a local church.

Tallman Trask, executive vice president, told the audience that he and the university's consultants want to give the 200 acres between East and West Campus the feel of a "student village." They want fewer cars, more green space, more attractive buildings, and single-family homes for faculty and staff members. "We're not looking to become a destination for non-Duke people," Trask said.

The first phase of the plan, which could start this summer, calls for two multi-storied residence halls on Anderson Street and eating establishments for students, as well as a possible medical-center building. The 1970s-era apartment buildings now occupying Central Campus have outlived their usefulness and would be torn down.

Over the next several decades, Duke also may construct university and medical-center office buildings along Erwin Road, Trask said. Duke Gardens could extend north to Erwin Road, and a monorail system might be built to provide transportation between East and West Campus. In addition, the university may sell some land to build homes for faculty and staff, much like the Trinity Heights homesites near East Campus. A small hotel, a bowling alley, and an auditorium are also under consideration.

Frank Duke, Durham's planning director, said that he did not foresee any proposed use that would be prohibited under existing zoning ordinances. Representatives of neighborhoods near campus support the general concept of the redevelopment, said John Schelp, president of the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association.

Several community residents said they appreciated the university's willingness to communicate with the public. They also liked the university's plan to preserve green space, lessen car traffic on campus, and possibly ban parking on Anderson Street. Still, there were concerns. Some people said they worried that Duke's inclusion of retail space on Central would draw students away from Ninth Street businesses and isolate students from the Durham community.