Earlier this month, the Durham City Council’s voted 6–0 to have the Boston-based Fallon Company redevelop the former police headquarters site instead of the Washington, D.C.-based Akridge, which had partnered with the Durham-based (and black-owned) New South Ventures. The council cited Fallon’s experience in affordable-housing developments among other factors in its decision.
In a fiery response, Kenneth Spaulding, the lead counsel on the Akridge bid—a former state rep whose father co-founded NC Mutual—says this move will exacerbate downtown Durham’s “gentrified segregation.”
“The current city council members, except for Mark-Anthony Middleton [who did not vote], are now complicit in the re-segregation and exclusion of black property owners in downtown Durham,” Spaulding writes. “This is very simple.
“The proposed African-American ownership and partnership with a nationally recognized developer offered the city more money (over $2 million more), more affordable housing, more local ownership, and more African-American ownership than the other developer. Black private ownership diminishes gentrification and would have diminished downtown Durham’s current ‘gentrified segregated’ district.
“The six council members indicated that the two proposals before them were both excellent proposals. However, the city’s unelected staff preferred the developer from Boston. The six council members who voted for this developer’s proposal failed to serve and lead the Durham taxpayers. Each one of them has decried gentrification, yet when they had a chance to practice what they preached, they failed.
“Others may be afraid to call out the council for this shameful vote, but I am not. Their vote shows utter disrespect for black inclusion and ownership in downtown. We will not lose our history, and we will maintain our legacy. With this in mind, I am stepping aside from my practice of law to focus my attention—with many others, young and old—to help end this ‘gentrified segregation’ in our community.
“The best way to do this is to change the leadership of Durham.”
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This post has been edited to include that Spaulding representing the losing bid.
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