Research hub focused on equity development proposed for Durham’s Hayti neighborhood

By Matthew Burns

October 6, 2021

Once a renowned Black middle-class neighborhood, the struggling Hayti area near downtown Durham could become home to a pioneering effort to build an equity education research hub.

A group of local academics, executives, entrepreneurs and community organizers is targeting a 2,000-acre site near the Fayetteville Street interchange with the Durham Freeway for the Durham Global Equity Project.

The backers have submitted a proposal to the Durham Housing Authority, which owns part of the site, for the first phase of a $1 billion-plus mixed-use project, which would include a blend of affordable and market-rate housing, offices, a grocery store and other retail shops and an “Innovation Academy,” designed to help minority youth become entrepreneurs.

“[We want] to create a catalyst for the community,” said Henry McKoy, DGEP director and a business professor at North Carolina Central University. “Durham is growing, and this community should grow as well. It should benefit from the growth in Durham. It shouldn’t be something where the community is sitting on the sidelines watching other people as they grow.”