Major plans for £125m Birmingham apartment complex

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A derelict spot in Birmingham city centre is set to be transformed into a plush new apartment block in a £125 million development.

City firm Court Collaboration has taken over the Holloway Head scheme, close to the giant Radisson Blu tower, and wants to start work on up to 487 apartments by next year.

New plans for the 17-storey scheme, drawn up by architect Corstorphine + Wright, also include ground floor shops as well as a gym and rooftop gardens for residents.

The plot has lain vacant for more than 25 years but, after agreeing a deal to buy it from Panther Securities, Court Collaboration’s founder Anthony McCourt says it has a bright future.

Panther has long been planning to regenerate the run-down spot, which is also home to Girlguide Birmingham, and it was once going to have a hotel and casino before taking a new direction two years ago to become residential.

Around 20 separate planning applications have been lodged for the site since the 1990s.

CGI of plans for 487 flats in Holloway Head

The development is a stone’s throw away from the most expensive apartment ever sold in the city centre – the £1.8 million penthouse at Concord House – and Mr McCourt said the area was becoming a more attractive place to live.

He said: "With Grand Central, the improvements to the Mailbox and the wider transformation of Birmingham city centre, Holloway Head is an in-demand location. We have something really special planned.

"This area is going to improve and improve and we’re thrilled to be a part of that. This shows our confidence in what is happening in the city.

"Things like the Curzon Street HS2 regeneration and the Smithfield scheme at the wholesale markets site are already transforming the city centre as a place to work and live and we are prepared to take risks and invest on the back of that vision.

"We are here in Birmingham seeing things happen in front of our eyes – you can’t do that from an office in north London."

Hertfordshire-based investor Panther Securities worked to get the scheme, at 49-51 Holloway Head, off the ground from 1990 but it resulted in the recent £11 million sale.

Mr McCourt thinks everything is in place to make a success of what he calls the "Leabank Quarter" near Holloway Head.

CGI shows how apartments will look at junction of Holloway Head and Ellis Street

He points to the nearby Concord House scheme in a former Debenhams warehouse as evidence of people willing to live in this area.

It will see the long-awaited rebirth of the derelict 1.3 acre brownfield site which is central to the regeneration of that corner of the city.

Mr McCourt said he expected to see interest from young professionals on the back of hundreds of jobs moving to Birmingham with the likes of HSBC and HS2 relocating here.

Hundreds of jobs will be created in the construction phase.

The apartments will be sold through Court Living – a new arm of the Colmore Row-based firm which will deal directly with the market.

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Why You Need To Move To Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama is a great place to live and there are lots of benefits you can enjoy when you move there. Whether you like craft beer or love the outdoors, there are lots of amazing benefits you can enjoy when you move to Birmingham.

Birmingham has a very strong craft beer scene and there are lots of breweries to choose from. Many of the brew pubs have live music and great food and they are great places to spend some time. Birmingham is a great place to watch a live music show and there are lots of clubs and bars and places where you can catch a show.

If you enjoy festivals, you will enjoy living in Birmingham because it seems like there is a festival every weekend. Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy a free event on the weekend. If you love sports, you will really enjoy Birmingham because there are a ton of sports events to enjoy and the residents are really into their teams.

The city is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and there are so many things you can do where you don’t have to travel far. You can paddle boat, zip line, and enjoy some of the many parks that are easy to walk to. The weather is great in Birmingham and you don’t have to worry about snow or freezing cold temperatures.

You will enjoy plenty of sunshine when you visit or move to Birmingham and the city is is easy to travel around as it has a good public transportation system and the roads and freeways are not too crowded. If you want to visit or move to Birmingham, you can find some great things to do there and the city is very nice.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell joins network of mayors supporting Paris agreement

Birmingham Mayor William Bell

Birmingham Mayor William Bell has joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, a network of more than 200 U.S. mayors working together to strengthen local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

The mayor’s announcement came just days after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

"Our city has joined Climate Mayors to mutually strengthen grassroots-level, city-led activity on undertaking climate action by cleaning our energy sources, making of infrastructure efficient and growing our economy through investing in the sectors that enable a climate-compatible future," the mayor’s office said in a statement. "We will release a list of tangible steps the city is taking (this) week to make this adoption a reality."

Bell was one of 211 U.S. mayors to sign a June 1 statement committing to "adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy

"We will continue to lead," the statement continued. "We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks."

Bell is the only Alabama mayor to join the Climate Mayors.

In this Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Chrycynthia Davis, mother of Kharon Davis, poses for a portrait inside the doorway of her home while holding a poster she made for her son during and interview for the Associated Press, in Dothan, Ala. Kharon Davis was 22-years-old when he was arrested on a capitol murder charge in 2007 and booked into the Houston County Jail. Davis has spent nearly a third of his life held without bond in the jail waiting for trial. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for annual Day of Action

Hands on Birmingham volunteers build a storage shed at the West End Community Garden. (File photo)

United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for its annual Day of Action sponsored by EBSCO Industries.

Hands on Birmingham needs about 125 additional volunteers to participate in eight projects at local non-profit agencies. The event begins at 9 a.m. on June 6, according to the United Way.

Volunteers from four United Way affinity groups: The Tocqueville Society, Women United, Young Philanthropists and 50 Year Donors will be assembling senior care kits for Meals on Wheels clients at the New Hope Senior Center at 1310 17th Way SW in Birmingham.

To volunteer as an individual or organization, visit, email or call 205-251-5849.

Volunteers may choose from projects such as cleaning and organizing books for Better Basics, sorting food donations for the Community Food Bank of Central Al and cleaning the trails at Red Mountain State Park. Other volunteer locations include the Salvation Army, United Community Center, J.S. Abrams Elementary School and the ACIPCO/Finley neighborhood.

Hands On Birmingham, a United Way initiative, connects people with organized and meaningful volunteer opportunities to help bring about positive social change in their communities. Hands On Birmingham sponsors over 150 projects throughout the year and plans and implements large scale community projects and days of service to include: MLK Day, Family Volunteer Day, Project Homeless Connect, Day of Caring and 9/11 Week of Service and Remembrance.

Drakkar Fontez Avery Christian was shot to death Friday, May 26, 2017, at an Irondale home. A suspect is charged and sought in the killing.

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U.S. Marshals searching for wanted man in southwest Birmingham

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell

A search is underway in southwest Birmingham after a man wanted on felony warrants fled from U.S. Marshals searching for him.

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell, 25, was arrested last year on charges of attempted murder, violation of a domestic violence protection order, and burglary. The incident happened in October 2016 when authorities say he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s Birmingham home.

Once inside the home, he encountered another male and fired shots at him before fleeing the scene. He was arrested on the charges on Nov. 15, but later released on bond with a condition of electronic monitoring.

U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said Campbell cut off his electronic monitoring device, and the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force was brought in to search for him. In April, Jefferson County District Judge Michael Streety issued an order noting that Campbell had repeatedly violated the monitoring conditions of his bond, despite warnings, instructions and citations.

Streety ordered that once in custody, Campbell be held without bond.

Keely said the task force received information of Campbell’s whereabouts Thursday morning and were searching for him in southwest Birmingham. When he spotted lawmen, he fled and led them on a brief chase. Ultimately, he bailed from his car and fled on foot.

The search is ongoing in the area of the 2100 block of Snavely Avenue where U.S. Marshals and Birmingham police have set up a perimeter. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.

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Durham City Council to vote on $4.2 million grant for Fayette Place purchase

The Durham City Council is moving ahead with giving the Durham Housing Authority $4.2 million to buy 20 acres of crumbling foundations for future affordable housing.

The council plans to vote on the grant to Development Ventures Inc., (DVI) a development arm of the Durham Housing Authority, at its June 5 meeting.

The grant deal was on the council’s Thursday work session agenda, but members didn’t ask any questions or express concerns, indicating likely approval.

The money would allow DVI to re-purchase the property known as Fayette Place, which was sold to Campus Apartments in 2007. The area is bounded by Fayetteville, Umstead and Merrick streets, between downtown and N.C. Central University.

Most City Council members committed to supporting the grant at a recent Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods meeting.

On Thursday, City Councilman Charlie Reece said it’s essential to bring the property under public control.

Neighbors have expressed frustration for years about the vacant land and unmet promises.

They dated the decline of the once cohesive, affluent black neighborhood to longtime homeowners pushed out to make way for the Durham Freeway and a housing project billed as “urban renewal.”

Instead, the Fayetteville Street public housing complex opened, followed by plans for two affordable-housing projects that never happened.

The city grant will include more than $4 million to repurchase the property and $102,000 to maintain the property through 2019. About $47,000 would go to a market study and legal fees.

The purchase is set to close June 16. A market study is to be completed in August and the community-engagement process would be held in September.

The grant agreement requires the housing authority to mow the grass, remove trash and repair the fencing. The housing authority has to include affordable housing in whatever gets built and seek community input, including from the Hayti area and N.C. Central University.

The authority also has to provide quarterly financial updates and can’t sell the site without the consent of the city manager, the grant agreement states.

For about 35 years, the property housed the 200-unit Fayetteville Street public housing complex.

In the early 2000s, the Durham Housing Authority started to convert the property into Fayette Place, a low-income housing development funded with tax credits. The development never happened.

In 2007, Campus Apartments agreed to pay the authority $4 million for Fayette Place. The agreement allowed the authority to repurchase the property if Campus Apartments failed to rent at least 168 beds to N.C. Central University students or provide housing for low-income individuals.

Under the agreement, the housing authority can reacquire the property for the purchase price or a recent appraised value, whichever is higher. A recent appraisal valued the property at less than the $4 million the company paid.

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Durham city calendar for week of May 15-19

Durham City Government meetings scheduled this week include:

Monday, May 15

7:00 p.m. City Council Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

Tuesday, May 16

7:00 p.m. Durham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Wednesday, May 17

8:30 a.m. Public Art Committee of the Durham Cultural Advisory Board (Durham Arts Council/120 Morris Street)

9:30 a.m. Upper Neuse River Basin Association (Town Hall/Camp Butner Room/415 Central Avenue/Butner, NC 27509)

3:00 p.m. Durham Cultural Advisory Board (The Bullpen/James B. Duke Boardroom/Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative/215 Morris St., Suite 300)

3:30 p.m. Audit/Finance Committee of the Durham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (Durham Housing Authority/330 E. Main Street)

5:30 p.m. Housing Appeals Board (Neighborhood Improvement Services Department/807 E. Main Street/3rd Floor Conference Room/Suite 2-300/Golden Belt Building)

5:30 p.m. Open Space Committee of the Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/Audit Services Area/1st Floor/Conference Room 1A)

5:45 p.m. Bond Committee of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

6:00 p.m. Durham City-County Appearance Commission (Urban Design Studio/City Hall/City-County Planning Department/Ground Floor)

7:00 p.m. Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Thursday, May 18

1:00 p.m. City Council Work Session (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

1:00 p.m. Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors (RDU Administrative Offices/1000 Trade Drive/RDU Airport, NC 27623)

1:00 p.m. Young Adult Resource Center Meeting of the Durham Homeless Services Advisory Committee (Independent Living Resources/411 Andrews Road, #230)

7:00 p.m. Affordable Housing Density Bonus Community Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

7:00 p.m. Sister Cities of Durham, Inc. Board Meeting (Hibachi Grill/4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard)

Friday, May 19

No Meetings Scheduled

All meetings are held in City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza, unless otherwise indicated. Additional meetings may be scheduled after this list is submitted for publication. Free parking is available during the Council Meeting in the Chapel Hill Street Parking Garage, located across Mangum from City Hall. Any citizen wishing to be heard on agenda matters should called the City Clerk’s Office at 919-560-4166 to place your name on the Speaker’s List.

To learn more about current City of Durham issues and upcoming events, watch CityLife on Time Warner Cable channel 8. CityLife airs Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Citizen input and questions are invited.


Big changes coming to Durham’s NC Mutual building


The NC Mutual building on West Chapel Hill Street is getting a dramatic makeover – one that will see its landmark name stripped from the top of the building.

The 12-story, 1960s-era office tower has been renamed Legacy Tower by a development group led by Michael Lemanski, who plans to update the building to attract new tenants. Earlier this year, NC Mutual announced it would shrink its footprint there from six floors to one, opening up 60,000 square feet of office space there.

Lemanski bought the building in 2006 for $10.5 million, while still with Greenfire Development, according to property records. The original Greenfire investors were bought out several years ago, and the new group contains mainly local investors, he said

The group is pouring $11 million into the renovations.

“The building has good bones,” Lemanski said, noting the changes will be mainly cosmetic.

Changes include restoring the façade, adding a mezzanine to expand the lobby by 13,000 square feet, and improving amenities such as a fitness center and a cafe.

Lemanski said the group is also adding lights to make the building more prominent at night.

The renovations should be complete in 12 months.

The naming rights of the building are also available for purchase – so potentially a new company name will adorn the top of the building again.

The renovations come as the 118-year-old NC Mutual reduces its footprint in Durham. The company, which posted a loss of $479,000 last year, told its shareholders at its annual meeting this year about the building’s transformation.

The company also changed its name in March to NC Mutual rather than continuing to use N.C. Mutual Life, which is currently written on the building’s signage.

Rents will climb significantly once the renovation is completed. Real estate firm Avison Young lists rates at the building between $26 to $29 per square foot.

“We think it can have similar rates as the rest of downtown Durham,” Lemanski said.

Lemanksi hopes the changes will attract creative-class clientele. The architecture firm Perkins+Will has already moved into the building, and he has heard interest from other potential tenants.

“We think (the renovations) will make it an amazing showpiece in downtown,” he said.


Woman dies in Durham motorcycle crash

NC DOT camera showing a ramp closed at US 70 and NC 98.

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A woman driving a motorcycle died in a crash in Durham early Sunday evening, police said.

The crash happened just before 6:15 p.m. on U.S. Highway 70 near N.C. Highway 98, Durham police said in a news release.

The woman motorcyclist was heading east on U.S. 70 while pulling a trailer, according to police.

The crash only involved the motorcyclist, who died at the scene, police said.

As of 8:10 p.m., the exit ramp from U.S. 70 east to N.C.98 is closed. The on-ramp from N.C. 98 to U.S. 70 east is also closed.

No other details were immediately available.

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Flood warning issued for Wake, Durham and Johnston counties

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Durham, Wake, Johnston, Wayne and Sampson counties through 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, as rain continues to fall on saturated ground.

Upwards of two inches has fallen since mid-morning Tuesday, and another one to two inches are possible in those counties, according to the weather service. The rain will quickly run-off, causing creeks and streams to overflow their banks, the weather service said.

The rain is expected to continue into Tuesday morning before tapering off as the weather system working its way up from the south moves out and the sun shines again on Wednesday. Up to 6 inches could fall in parts of central North Carolina before the storm is all over, according to the weather service.

If the forecast is correct, it would be the most rain central North Carolina has seen since Hurricane Matthew last fall, far surpassing the 1.93 inches of rain recorded at Raleigh-Durham International Airport the first three days of January.

“We haven’t surpassed that 1.93 at the airport yet,” said meteorologist Barrett Smith said Monday morning. “But it could end up being the largest since Matthew. If not, our forecast is pretty bad.”

But people shouldn’t expect the same level of flooding as when Matthew swept through, Smith said.

“It’s not comparable in that sense,” he said. “But we’re still cautioning that there will be some flash flooding and some roads covered in water.”

Thunderstorms are expected Tuesday morning followed by more rain and then more thunderstorms after 3 p.m.

A flood watch continues for central North Carolina through Tuesday morning, and forecasters said to expect flooding in streams and creeks and standing water on roads. Rivers will rise “significantly,” but the weather service predicted only minor flooding along their banks.

The Haw River is expected to crest at Bynum on Tuesday afternoon, while the Tar River should crest at Louisburg on Wednesday afternoon and on Friday evening in Tarboro, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

[Heavy storms leave thousands without power in North Carolina]

Some areas outside the Triangle could get as much as 5 inches before the rain eases up and ends by Wednesday morning.

Source: National Weather Service

Power outages

The storm caused power outages to thousands of Duke Energy customers in North Carolina on Monday.

More than 48,000 of those customers were in Charlotte, which had received as much as 4 inches of rain by Monday morning.

More than 2,250 customers were without power in Durham near the Northgate Mall on Monday morning after downed trees or limbs damaged electrical equipment. About 500 more were without power in Cary and east Raleigh on Monday.

Related stories from The News & Observer
Area gets heavy rain, but no major flood
The sights and sounds of a rainy day in the Old North State

Other major outages were reported in the Winston-Salem area and Cabarrus County.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett