Aug 4, 2023 - Business

Renderings: Towers planned in downtown Durham

A rendering of two towers proposed for the Heritage Square development in Durham. Photo: Courtesy of Sterling Bay

A Chicago developer has released its first designs for a multi-tower development in downtown Durham that would transform a shopping center into a life sciences campus.

Driving the news: Sterling Bay wants to build a 13-story residential building and an 11-story lab building at 606 Fayetteville St., as part of the first phase of a project it's calling Heritage Square.

Why it matters: The project, which could begin construction next year, would be one of the largest commercial developments to be built near the Hayti neighborhood — a historically Black community that was disrupted by the construction of the Durham Freeway in the 1960s.

Details: It would be built on top of the Heritage Square shopping center, which is currently home to Food World and Pelican's SnoBalls.

  • Sterling Bay bought Heritage Square last year for $65 million, according to Durham County records.
  • The first towers would be just one phase of a decade-long plan to build on the property.
  • In addition to the lab and residential buildings, the first phase includes retail and restaurant space.
  • Sterling Bay is partnering with the investment firm Harrison Street and the Acram Group, former owner of the Citrix building in Raleigh, for the project.

Between the lines: If construction does start soon, it would be one of just a few office developments being built in the Triangle, which has seen vacancy rates increase due to remote work.

  • However, life science buildings — which typically require more in-person work than other offices — have been resilient.
  • Downtown Raleigh is even trying to recruit more life science companies as part of an effort to bring more workers back downtown.

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