Monday, July 30, 2012

East Durham

I was talking to a realtor over in Durham a couple of weeks back, and she said to me "you've probably never even been over to East Durham," and she was right.  So after a meeting today at the Golden Arts Center, seemingly the easternmost outpost of the much ballyhooed New Durham, I drove around a bit. It was a pretty rough area, indeed. I found Joe's Diner, which I had read about, and it was like an oasis in the midst of much rundownness, and I saw the spot near it where the TROSA grocery store venture that failed must have been.

I drove past NCCU, and saw some very nice facilities there.  But just off campus, things degenerated quickly.  Once nice houses deteriorating or boarded up.

I went into a gas station to get some gas.  There was no place to put a credit card into the pump, which, on closer inspection, seemed pretty moribund. The couple of cars parked next to the other pump proved empty, and when I went inside the store, a guy came out from the back talking on his cellphone.  I asked, "does the gas work?" and he said "no gas."  Not that I asked, but he might have said that there's an operating gas station just under the nearby underpass.

All told, it was not inspiring. I was comforted by a conversation I had with a soon-to-retire Durham cop a few weeks back. He worked in HQ downtown, and I asked him if all the development and attention that Durham was getting recently translated into decreased violent crime statistics. He assured me that it did.  Whether any of the new money coming into town is changing the lives of the inner city black population, that's a different question. Still, all the activity around the American Tobacco campus and the arrival of new tenants like FHI360 moving its global headquarters downtown at the end of 2013 should produce at least some jobs for inner city folx, one must assume. Maybe not the best jobs, but some jobs.

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