A panel of development experts gathered at an office in the 15-acre Durham Innovation District, or Durham.ID, to reflect on Durham’s recent growth. The event was sponsored by the Triangle District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and featured topics related to Durham, North Carolina’s growth as an urban center for tech and biotech companies.
Developed by Longfellow Real Estate Partners, the plans for Durham.ID includes more than one million square feet of labs and office space, in addition to 60,000 square feet of retail and 250,000 square feet of residential space. Managing Director Jessica Brock explains that bringing researchers downtown enables them to engage with top universities, making Boston-based Longfellow one of the leading life sciences developer in the country. Duke University is also shifted focus to bringing in top researchers and the students in an effort to catalyze efforts focused on life science and tech development.
Durham.ID’s development is co-led by Duke University, who recently celebrated the opening of the headquarters of the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at the restored Carmichael Building. The Carmichael Building is an award-winning, adaptive reuse effort that previously belonged to a portion of Durham’s Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company manufacturing complex. The relocation of many research labs and offices to the building have served to stimulate further revitalization and growth in the area.
Duke University’s Scott Selig proclaimed that Durham’s growth could no longer be credited to the traditional saying of “location, location, location,” but rather “talent, talent, talent.” Durham.ID is well positioned to dip into a highly educated pool of talent between having three world-class universities in its backyard, as well as the neighboring Research Triangle Park (RTP). Selig explained how young professionals are now choosing to relocate to cities based on a sense of authenticity, instead of letting an industry dictate where they move. Community development is quickly becoming the greatest form of economic development, as the region prepares to see an increase of one million people over the next 15 years.
As many young professionals are getting priced out of cities like San Francisco and Seattle, Durham is experiencing an influx of creative class workers. “No one lives in Durham by accident. The authentic vibe provides something that people can get excited about,” according to Michael Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting Company and Durham’s famed American Tobacco Campus. He agrees that young workers are now searching for a “coolness factor” before weighing the affordability of a city.
Where have you seen examples of development spurred by the tech and biotech industries in your city? What are some challenges that these innovation districts face as they continue to grow? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Rachel Eberhard. Data linked to sources.