To Understand How Gentrification in Durham Works, Just Read the Signs


By Thomasi Mcdonald

September 02, 2020

Henry McKoy, who is director of entrepreneurship at N.C. Central’s business school, previously told the INDY that the loss of Hayti is incalculable.

“We are talking about literally billions of dollars in lost economic value for the Hayti community that could have resulted from expanding as the macroeconomic landscape expanded,” McKoy said. “Black Durham was denied the economic standing that it had built over the course of the century before the [east-west expressway] came through.”

Working-class Black families throughout Durham’s urban core say they are now targets of an urban land rush, besieged with unsolicited calls and visits to their homes from strangers who want to buy them out.

And they are selling. Entire blocks of Black neighborhoods are now white: in East Durham, along Guthrie Street, on the 1100 block of Dunstan Avenue in South Durham, Walltown to the north, and pretty much all of the south side along the edge of downtown. Durham Housing Authority director Anthony Scott touts this as a success story because of mixed-income development, as opposed to herding low-income residents into a neighborhood destined to be bedeviled by poverty and crime.

Success for whom, though? There’s a trundle-down complex on Fargo Street where two townhomes are priced at more than $150,000, and a single room farther up the street is renting for nearly $800.