Jul 19, 2023 - Development

Downtown Durham's apartment construction boom

The under-construction Novus tower in downtown Durham. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

More than 3,800 apartments are under construction or planned in downtown Durham, according to figures from Downtown Durham Inc., making it one of the hottest spots for residential construction in the Triangle.

Driving the news: While office construction has nearly ground to a halt throughout the Triangle thanks to remote work, residential construction is still moving ahead, as developers continue to predict strong growth in the region.

State of play: A record amount of apartment construction is happening in the Triangle right now, with more than 25,300 apartments currently being built, according to commercial real estate company Avison Young.

Apartment projects in downtown Durham
Data: Axios research; Map: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: The projects in downtown Durham stand to bring a never-before-seen density to the city's downtown core, potentially bolstering businesses with increased foot traffic throughout the day and filling a void left by office traffic.

Yes, but: The new apartments will come with pricy rents that could be unaffordable to many.

  • But nearly 900 of the planned units will be reserved for individuals making between 30% to 80% of the area median income.

Here are some of the most notable projects planned or under construction:

The Camden

One of the biggest projects under construction in Durham's city center, the Camden will add 354 units to a southern section of downtown that has seen a sharp increase in large apartment buildings.

  • Built by Camden Property Trust, the property is adjacent to other recently completed buildings, like the BullHouse apartments, The Ramsey Apartments and the Venable apartments.

Where: 441 S. Dillard St.

Timeline: Construction could be completed early next year.

The Camden is the largest apartment project under construction in downtown Durham. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

American Tobacco Campus expansion

Capitol Broadcasting and Hines' expansion of the American Tobacco Campus is one of the most ambitious planned projects in Durham.

As proposed, the second phase of the campus would add 350 apartments and more offices. It would bring the ATC's total square footage to around 2 million square feet.

Where: 601 Willard St.

Timeline: Although demolition of the old University Ford site is complete, construction has not yet begun on the expansion.

The old University Ford building, pictured on right, has been demolished but construction has yet to begin on the American Tobacco Campus expansion. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Ram Realty Washington Street

Ram Realty, a Florida company also redeveloping University Mall in Chapel Hill, is adding a new mixed-use project adjacent to the Blue Note Grill and overlooking the Durham Athletic Park.

When completed, the project will add more than 300 units, plus retail space.

Where: 501 Washington St.

Timeline: Construction has begun and completion is expected in early 2025.

Ram Realty plans to build a large apartment building next to the Blue Note Grill on Washington Street. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

The Y expansion

The Durham YMCA has operated on Morgan Street for more than 25 years. The facility could eventually be one of the tallest buildings in downtown.

The YMCA of the Triangle and East West Partners of Chapel Hill plan to build 27-story and 12-story towers on the site of the Y, with the gym remaining on the bottom floors and hundreds of apartments and office space on top of it.

Where: 218 W. Morgan St.

Timeline: Construction has been delayed on the project, according to The News & Observer, with groundbreaking now pushed to 2024.

A rendering of the towers planned for the YMCA property in downtown Durham. Photo: Durham City-County Planning Department


Located near Google's Durham offices in the Durham Innovation District, the Beckon apartment building recently added 263 apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail space to downtown.

Where: 311 Liggett St.

The Beckon apartment building is located within the Durham Innovation District. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Maizon Durham

Maizon Durham will add nearly 250 apartment units next to the Durham Police Headquarters.

The project is part of a larger land deal that will bring both affordable and market-rate housing to formerly county-owned land at 300 and 500 E. Main St.

  • While the Maizon portion, at 500 E. Main St., will all be market-rate units, the entire project will include 305 affordable units across the former county properties.

Where: 500 E. Main St.

Timeline: The project is expected to be finished in 2024.

A rendering of the Maizon Durham building being built next to the Durham Police Headquarters. Photo: Durham County

The Novus

When completed, the 27-story Novus tower will tie One City Center as Durham's tallest building.

The tower will add 188 apartments and 54 condos to the site of the former South Bank building in Five Points.

  • Many of the condos are listed for more than $1 million.

Be smart: Both the Novus and One City Center were built by Austin Lawrence Partners, a Colorado firm whose owners have connections to Duke University.

Where: 400 W. Main St.

Timeline: The tower is expected to be finished next year.

A rendering of the Novus tower. Photo: Austin Lawrence Partners


Currently under construction, the seven-story GeerHouse apartment project has brought the most visible change to Durham's Geer Street, one of the city's most popular dining-and-drinking areas.

The first phase of the project rises above the Motorco Music Hall and Geer Street Garden and will add 220 apartments to the street.

Where: 620 Foster St.

Timeline: The apartments could be ready by next year.

The GeerHouse apartments rising over Geer Street Garden. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

The Rigsbee

Joining the GeerHouse expansion along Rigsbee Avenue is another apartment project called The Rigsbee, which will add 82 apartment units across the street from the popular bar Surf Club.

The project is being built by the Durham company Elmwood Development.

Where: 318 W. Corporation St.

Timeline: Construction is expected to be finished next year.

The Rigsbee is located at the corner of Rigsbee Avenue and West Corporation Street. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

710 Rigsbee

Elmwood Development is also behind the 710 Rigsbee project next to the Fullsteam Brewery space on Rigsbee Avenue, which has become one of the busiest construction zones in the city.

710 Rigsbee will add 51 luxury units to the area.

Where: 710 Rigsbee Ave.

Timeline: Construction began earlier this year, and could be completed sometime next year.

The 710 Rigsbee project is being built next to the popular Fullsteam Brewery. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

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