A team of developers led by Longfellow Real Estate Partners from Boston, Duke University and Durham businessman Hank Scherich unveiled formal plans Wednesday for the “Durham Innovation District.”
The project covers 15 acres just to the west of downtown.
Dubbed, “Durham.ID,” the project will eventually include 1 million square feet of office space plus retail space and 300 residential units. The American Tobacco Historic District, which is nearby, also includes about 1 million square feet of office space.
The partners describe the project as a “downtown research hub” with an emphasis on life science companies.
“(The project) is going to bring all these amazing scientists and researchers together to create an environment that shares in a very unique way some very big ideas,” Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.
Officials discussed details at the Carmichael Building, at 300 N. Duke St., which was recently was renovated for $50 million as part of the first phase of the project. Developers said that the need to secure a major tenant before they break ground on the next building. Duke occupies most of the Carmichael Building.
The area pegged for the estimated $400 million to $500 million redevelopment is bounded by North Duke Street, the West Village development, downtown and the Farmers Market areas.
Longfellow, which already manages some properties in the Triangle, is widely known for its Cambridge Square project in Boston.
“You’ve got institutions like Duke University, Durham Tech, (North Carolina Central University), a strong local work force and a tie-in to the greater Triangle area and market,” said Adam Sichol of Longfellow. “We think all those components together make for a a great opportunity.”
Longfellow, which also owns two buildings in the Imperial Center Office Park in Durham, also also worked with Duke to renovate a building at 710 W. Main St. Once a research building for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co., it is now known as the Research Lab.
Scherich is an active investor in downtown Durham real estate. He is the founder and president of Measurement Inc., which focuses on assessment tools and services. The company has about 400 employees.
The American Tobacco District, which celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month, is owned and operated by Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent firm of WRAL-TV, WRAL.com and WRAL TechWire.
Capitol has said it invested $200 million in the American Tobacco project.