Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This page will be updated on an ongoing basis as we collect additional questions from the community.
How will Latta Park help address the affordable housing crisis in Durham?
Relative to the 2 units per acre density that the subject property is currently zoned for, Latta Park is offering a higher density product that naturally provides more affordability by using land and infrastructure more efficiently. Additionally, we have made a legally binding commitment that a minimum of 5% of the residential units shall be designated as Affordable Housing Dwelling Units as defined by Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Section 17.3. These units will be designed with similar quality and blend in with the surrounding residences, yet they will be financially subsidized by the Latta Park development to provide long-term affordability for households that qualify.
How do we know the developer will honor promises made about design, open space and overall quality of the Latta Park community?
The Development Plan in the rezoning application contains a long list of commitments, officially called “text commitments” and “design commitments”. If the rezoning is approved by City Council, these commitments will become legally binding on the Latta Park property.
It would be illegal to break any of these commitments. The commitments would not only apply to the initial development and initial developer but for any future owners or re-development of the property in the future.
Can uses like gas stations, car washes, fast food restaurants, and dollar stores be built at Latta Park?
No. As part of the Development Plan, we have included a list of prohibited uses. As explained in the FAQ above, that means these prohibited uses would not be allowed initially or in the future.
Below are uses that would be allowed in the non-residential CG zoning district, that we have chosen to prohibit:
- Car Washes
- Electronic Gaming Operations
- Indoor Firing Range
- Nightclub or Bar (except for a bar as part of a restaurant operation)
- Restaurants with Drive-through Facilities
- Convenience Store with Gasoline Sales
- Payday Lenders
- Vehicle Sales
- Minor Vehicle Service
- Self-Service Storage
- Unipole Wireless Communication Facility (Cell Tower)
In addition to the above uses, we have further committed to prohibiting certain other uses that are subcategories of retail and not specifically identified in the CG Use Table. These are:
- “Dollar” store or discount variety store (such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Big Lots)
- Tobacco/Vape Store
- Adult book store
- Tattoo or piercing parlor
- Gaming, gambling, betting, or game of chance business (exclusive of the sale of lottery tickets)
- a business whose primary service is check cashing (such as Amscot, Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Moneytree, etc.)
- Billiard hall
- Flea market
- Bingo parlor
Are you really adding a neighborhood feel?
The proposed development plan will seek to create a public space where the adjacent communities can come together for community-led events, activities, and involvement. It will incorporate nonresidential development that will complement the surrounding residential areas.
A landscaped roundabout with a public art feature will be a central feature in the project, delineating the transition between residential and non-residential areas.
A prominent, unifying element of the design is the preservation of the existing natural tree canopy along the corner of Guess Rd and Latta Rd. Natural surface paths will be provided, allowing pedestrians from nearby communities to walk through the communal park space to a community lawn where local restaurants will provide generous outdoor seating in a parkside setting.
Outdoor seating areas of at least 500 sf will be provided adjacent to each nonresidential building, and the non-residential buildings have architectural commitments to create a visually interesting and inviting setting.
A bike lane will also be provided along the south side of Latta Rd for the full frontage of the site, promoting additional recreation
Why build a new development when there are vacancies in existing shopping centers?
While we cannot speak for other developments, we agree that based on general observations, some shopping centers on the Guess Road Corridor do not give an impression of a vibrant retail environment.
But, it has been decades since there was any meaningful new commercial development in the area, and the format of retail has evolved.
We are 100% certain that high-quality restaurants and retail services want to serve North Durham residents at Latta Park. These businesses demand a retail environment that reflects the quality of their operations.
The scale of our retail will be relatively small, so it will allow us to select only the best operators for Latta Park.
Also, from our experience, existing landlords are likely to “step up their game” and make much-needed capital investments once we demonstrate success in tapping a high-and-better tenant mix.
What will the developer do to address traffic issues?
The site is bordered by Latta Road to the north and Guess Road to the west. As a condition of the rezoning, the developer will be required to make major improvements to the existing roadways.
At this time the estimated cost of the developer’s roadway improvements is approximately $2 Million.
These improvements include adding a second westbound left-turn lane on Latta Rd at Guess Rd, and extending the existing left-turn lane.
The TIA (traffic impact analysis) indicates that these improvements, in particular, will reduce delays at the intersection to be significantly less than they would be in a future condition even without the additional traffic from Latta Park.
The list of roadway improvements proposed per the TIA are as follows:
Guess Road – Latta Road:
- Provide an additional westbound left-turn lane on Latta Road to provide dual left-turn lanes with approximately 275 feet of storage and appropriate tapers
- Modify the traffic signal to accommodate the recommended laneage
Latta Road – Autumn Drive/West Site Drive:
- Construct a full-movement site driveway with one ingress lane and two egress lanes on Latta Road opposite Autumn Drive
- Construct an eastbound left-turn lane on Latta Road with approximately 75 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
- Construct an eastbound right-turn lane on Latta Road with approximately 100 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
- Construct a westbound left-turn lane on Latta Road with approximately 100 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
Latta Road – Green Oak Drive/East Site Drive:
- Construct a full-movement site driveway with one ingress lane and one egress lane on Latta Road opposite Green Oak Drive
- Construct an eastbound left-turn lane on Latta Road with approximately 50 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
- Construct a westbound left-turn lane on Latta Road with approximately 50 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
Guess Road – Left-Over Site Drive:
- Construct a right-in/right-out/left-in site driveway on Guess Road approximately 870 feet south of Latta Road
- Construct a northbound right-turn lane on Guess Road with approximately 100 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
- Construct a southbound left-turn lane on Guess Road with approximately 150 feet of storage and appropriate taper
Guess Road – Right-in/Right-out Site Drive:
- Construct a right-in/right-out site driveway on Guess Road approximately 340 feet south of Latta Road
- Construct a northbound right-turn lane on Guess Road with approximately 100 feet of storage and an appropriate taper
The analysis indicates that with the recommended improvements in place, all of the study intersections are expected to operate at an acceptable level of service at project build-out. No queuing issues are expected at any of the study intersections.
What is the current condition of the Latta Park property?
The property contains 12 separate land parcels, with 5 different owners. 9 of the parcels have been previously developed and contain 26 different structures including old houses, barns, and sheds. Only 2 of the 26 structures are currently inhabited. The inhabited houses are being rented out on a short-term basis. The majority of the vacant houses are in states of meaningful disrepair and contain lead paint and asbestos. The 3 undeveloped parcels have 310 feet of frontage on Lebanon Rd and will remain undeveloped/preserved as a tree buffer area.
Can you share more about the Townhomes?
The proposed plan dedicates about ⅔ of the acreage to residential use, placing 200 townhomes in a highly walkable arrangement.
The plan includes an internal active greenspace and generous buffers along existing adjacent property boundaries.
The prices are anticipated to start in the $200,000s yet still provide significant commitments to design, variation, and quality. For example, the plan includes binding commitments for block length, 50% of the residential units to be alley loaded (for nicer curb appeal, placing garage in rear), and 50% of the units will have a front porch or covered stoop.
These design commitments among others provide better overall housing conditions in addition to the economic threshold for affordability.
What kind of tenants will be in Latta Park?
It is our commitment to be as local as possible. We are seeking out Durham-based restaurants and businesses to occupy the 13,000 square feet of shops. We have already started conversations in the Durham culinary and food truck scene to learn about new and up-and-coming concepts.
Latta Park is not expected to open until late 2023 at the soonest, so it is early to gain formal retailer commitments. And while the COVID pandemic presents broad challenges facing restaurants and small business entrepreneurs at this time, we have a very positive outlook for the emergence of great new local concepts in the 24-36 month horizon. We are committed to delivering a thriving local flavor for the Latta Park shops.
What commitments are being made in regards to quality architectural design for the commercial buildings?
In the design commitments section of our development plan, we have created rigorous and detailed standards that will govern the design, as follows:
- Non-residential buildings will be constructed with 50% brick minimum and flat roofs with parapets.
- There shall be no parking located between any nonresidential building and guess road.
- Any non-residential building façade facing guess rd and/or serving as a primary customer entrance shall be considered a primary façade and meet the following standards:
- Materials: primary façade materials shall be primarily brick, stacked stone, stone, or stone masonry units, wood clapboard, cementitious fiberboard, exposed heavy timber, architectural concrete masonry, or glass curtain walls (transparent or spandrel glass). exterior insulation finishing systems (eifs) may not exceed 25% of a primary façade wall area.
- Material colors: primary façade colors shall be of low reflectance earth tone, muted, subtle, or neutral colors. building trim may feature brighter colors as an accent material. the use of high-intensity, metallic, fluorescent, day glow, or neon colors shall be prohibited. notwithstanding commercial tenants shall be allowed to use a full range of colors in their signage so long as those colors align with their corporate branding/logo.
- Articulation: primary façades shall be divided into architecturally distinct sections or bays with each section taller than it is wide. sections or bays shall be visually established by architectural features such as columns, ribs, pilasters or piers, changes in plane, or an equivalent element that otherwise visually subdivides the wall through at least 50% of its height.
- Expression of entries: any doorway on a primary façade, including a service entrance, shall have a clearly defined feature including 1 or more of the following: canopies or porticos, arcades, arches, wing walls, and/or planters.
- Utilities: no wall-mounted building utility service equipment (e.g. electrical house panel boxes) shall be placed on a primary façade. fire department connections or other code-required equipment may be on the primary façade if necessary.
How will you address stormwater drainage and concerns?
The stormwater control measures will include 2 retention ponds that capture runoff from the site and reduce the peak stormwater flows from the project to pre-development levels. The post-development peak runoff leaving the project boundary from stormwater control facilities within the PDR zoned area shall not exceed pre-development levels during the 100-year, 24-hour storm event. The post-development peak runoff leaving the project boundary from stormwater control facilities within the CG zoned area shall not exceed pre-development levels during the 25- year, 24-hour storm event.”
The ponds are also designed to remove 85% of total suspended solids and to remove a minimum of 50% of nitrogen and phosphorous pollutants. These flows will be dispersed to different points with the non-residential portion of the project conveying runoff to the NCDOT storm drainage infrastructure in Guess Road.
Also, we have made a text commitment to increase the erosion control sediment basins from 3,600 cu ft per disturbed acre to 5,000 cu ft per disturbed acre, a 39% increase above code requirements.
Does the public infrastructure have capacity to support this development?
As an infill site well inside the suburban fringe, Latta Park is suitably located so as not to require the upgrade of any adjacent water or sewer utility infrastructure.
The City has public water mains and gravity sewer mains located in both Guess and Latta Roads.
The City has also recently upgraded the sanitary sewer interceptor along the Eno River which would collect sewer flows from this project.
What will be done to reduce light pollution from the non-residential project?
In addition to establishing generous buffers along neighboring property boundaries, we made a design commitment in our Development Plan that any parking lot lighting will be limited to 25’ max pole height with “full cutoff” fixtures (no light emitted above horizontal).