Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, downtown Durham, North Carolina was a thriving manufacturing center engaged in the tobacco and textile industries. However, as both industries declined in the 1960s, so too did the vitality of downtown Durham. Steady disinvestment over the years led to physical deterioration of the neighborhood, and the once vibrant factories sat vacant. Golden Belt was a textile factory that produced pouches for Bull Durham loose leaf tobacco and then, paper cigarette cartons. When tobacco moved out, the Golden Belt complex was donated to the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) who in turn, sold a majority of the facility to Scientific Properties, LLC, a North Carolina-based real estate and development company, in 2006.Scientific Properties planned to convert the historic site into a mixed-use commercial, arts, and residential space, with the potential to spark additional revitalization of the neighborhood, but was unable to secure $12 million in gap financing needed to complete the $26.3 million project. In 2008, Scientific Properties approached Self-Help Ventures Fund, a community development entity based Durham for a financing solution. Self-Help recognized the project’s potential to anchor the area’s revitalization, but at the time had only $8.2 million in NMTC financing remaining in a blind pool – not enough to bridge the $12 million gap – so they turned to Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) to borrow $3.9 million in NMTC allocation to secure the financing needed to make the Golden Belt Complex project viable.
The $12 million in total NMTC financing enabled Scientific Properties, LLC to rehabilitate a deteriorating factory; generate 140 construction related jobs and 400 permanent jobs; put six warehouses back into use; and provide affordable commercial and office space for local businesses and non-profits that serve community residents, including the Center for Employment Training. Additionally, the Golden Belt Complex provides 35 artist studios, an art gallery, 37 loft apartments, office space, a cafe, and multiple ground floor retailers.
As a result of the decision by DPS to sell The W.G. Pearson Center, Student U will not be able to continue to operate within the current arrangement as a rent-free tenant of The Center. In November, 2015, Student U created a Space Committee comprised of staff and Board members. This committee was tasked with exploring potential long-term space options, including purchasing The Center from DPS, purchasing or leasing an existing building other than The W.G. Pearson Center, purchasing land to construct a new building, or fostering partnerships with other entities that could offer permanent space for us. To facilitate this discernment, Student U hired Real Estate Associates. The Space Committee and the Board of Directors believe that The W.G. Pearson Center is the best available long-term, permanent home for Student U.
The upfront cost of the acquisition, renovation, and remediation of The W.G. Pearson was approximately $11,000,000. Self-Help utilized the New Markets Tax Credit, the Federal Historic Tax Credit, the State Historic Tax Credit to cover approximately $5,000,000 of the total cost. Durham County provided approximately $4,250,000 for renovation and remediation. Student U funds were utilized to cover any remaining gap between overall project expenses and these other revenue streams.
Henderson Collegiate is one of the best high performing public charter schools Henderson NC.
A former Liggett & Myers tobacco warehouse in Durham, NC, the Carmichael Building, is now home to lab, research, and office space for Duke University’s Molecular Physiology Institute. New Markets Tax Credits helped make this rehabilitation possible.