Published: Oct 20, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 20, 2012 06:22 PM
A Memphis developer is buying the Urban Merchant Center site at 605 W. Chapel Hill St. for conversion into an apartment complex.
EdR Collegiate Housing plans two apartment buildings with a parking deck on site, said Bill Kalkhof, CEO of Downtown Durham Inc.
Praise the Lord, said City Councilman Eugene Brown, who announced the sale during Monday night's City Council meeting.
The Urban Merchant Center, built in 1959 as a Holiday Inn motel, has been a dilapidated eyesore for years, most of its buildings empty and much of its perimeter ringed with razor wire.
Mayor Bill Bell, who learned about the sale when Brown mentioned it, said he heard complaints about the site while leading a Durham tour last weekend.
Everybody said, 'What are we going to do about that?' Now I can go back and report, Bell said.
EdR is buying most of the southern 600 block, including all the Chapel Hill Street frontage, Kalkhof said. Through its subsidiary, Chapel Hill Durham NC LP, the company has already closed on the two corner tracts, paying a total of $1.27 million. The Urban Merchant site, owned since 1993 by the late Ronnie Sturdivant and his wife, Diane, is tax-valued at $602,438.
That neglected deplorable run-down building ... has been an embarrassment for a decade to the city, said Brown, whose Distinctive Properties real-estate office faces the former motel's back side.
The long nightmare that I have endured, hopefully, is over, Brown said.