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Rob Gillespie
Durham, NC
Rob is a resident of the Burch Avenue neighborhood in Southwest Central Durham who's interested in economic development, community engagement, and urban neighborhood revitalization.
Recent Activity
With over fifty startups now calling Downtown Durham home, it's easy to see why Durham's getting more and more national press for its startup scene. So much press, in fact, that the Obama Administration is beginning their "Startup America" roundtable tour right here in the Bull City. The tour, which visits Durham on March 3, is meant to gather input from small business owners in an effort to reduce barriers to entrepeneurship and innovation. Durham is one among a list of eight innovation hubs on the tour, including traditional stalwarts such as Boulder CO, the Silicon Valley, and Austin. Durham's historically been the startup-friendly town of the Triangle, mostly due to the availability of cheap office space. With commercial leases at class A spaces like American Tobacco now running the highest in the region, however, it takes something else to sustain Durham as a hub for new ventures. This 'something else' could easily be the entrepeneurship support from groups like the Center for Entrepeneurial Development, the NC Institute for Minority Economic Development, and Bull City Forward, all of which call Downtown Durham home. Additionally, Durham now has several incubators up-and-running, including Joystick Labs and Launchbox Digital in the American Underground space at AmBacco. Added to the mix this Spring will be Durham's Startup Stampede, a project that aims to host fifteen startups in downtown. The project comes with many sponsors, including the City and County of Durham, Self-Help Credit Union, and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, among others. Participants... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Bull City Rising
From the didn't-see-that-coming department, Ray Gronberg from the Herald-Sun writes this morning about a new development in the fight between North Carolina's billboard lobby and cities across NC. Gronberg broke the news this morning that the NC Outdoor Advertising Association is working on a bill to prohibit municipal regulation of billboards. From the H-S: "We have been told there will be a bill to basically prevent local governments from having restrictions on digital billboards or any kind of local ordinance," said Molly Diggins, executive director of the N.C. Sierra Club. Many will remember August's long City Council meeting that ended in a unanimous vote against loosening Durham's long-standing ban on new billboard construction. After failure in the city, Fairway Outdoor Advertising, the original applicant for looser billboard regulations, withdrew its application for the same from the Board of County Commissioners in September. In recent years, there has been a push by billboard companies to allow construction of digital billboards. These digital billboards are essentially large, ultra-bright digital displays that change message every eight seconds. Opponents of digital billboards cite numerous reasons to prevent their construction, including blight, safety, and a lack of energy efficiency. Even scarier than the attempted run-around local zoning regulations on billboards is the possibility of a precedent for side-stepping local planning departments with a request to the state legislature. If the state decides where local governments must allow billboards, then what other traditionally-municipal zoning issues will the state take up next? This concern is highlighted by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2011 at Bull City Rising
If 2010 was the year that food trucks gained momentum in the Triangle, then 2011 looks like it will bring an explosion of new trucks to the region. Already, plans have been announced for several new food trucks, including trucks from Crook’s Corner and Will and Pops in Carrborro, and Ko Kyu and Pie Pushers in Durham, among others. Granted, not everyone likes having food trucks on the streets. There have been complaints from Raleigh (and Durham) restaurateurs that food trucks undercut traditional restaurants with a lower capital investment and no need to provide seating and bathrooms. Food trucks are starting to get regulatory attention from all corners of the Triangle. Raleigh is currently revising their food truck laws, which has brought heated public hearings that pit truck lovers against restaurant owners. Chapel Hill has also been requested to create an information source for aspiring four-wheeled entrepreneurs, in order to provide clarity to their current regulations. These moves in Raleigh and Chapel Hill grow out of what truck owners see as a disadvantage to operating in these towns versus Durham -- even as brick-and-mortar establishments in both cities fret about competition on rubber tires. Durham’s food truck laws have been considered by some to be more lax than neighboring towns. This is mostly due to a clause in the city’s zoning ordinances that allows food trucks to operate by right on private property in the downtown district, which covers the areas in and directly bordering the loop. Outside of the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2011 at Bull City Rising
Reports started coming in this morning that a big job announcement was on tap in Govenor Perdue's schedule for the day. Sources including the N&O and WRAL reported that Red Hat was likely to stay in the Triangle, with a tweet from the Governor's office stating that this afternoon's job announcement is big news for Wake County. The news is especially good for Wake, which will lose some jobs to Duke Energy's acquisition of Raleigh-based Progress Energy. Red Hat, a supplier of Linux software and support, boasts 3,600 global employees, with approximately 700 currently located in Raleigh. News of Red Hat's potential move to Durham first emerged here at BCR in October. Reports state that many sites were in the running, including several corporate parks in Raleigh. Jim Goodmon had placed his American Tobacco Campus in the running, with rumors indicating that his proposal centered around a new tower sited to the north of Diamond View II. Other cities, including Austin and Atlanta, were in the running as well. Cost-of-living and quality of life concerns were stated as driving forces to stay in NC. When all was said and done, Red Hat decided to stay (almost) put. Red Hat will be building a new headquarters in Wake County. The actual location has yet to be determined, but Red Hat representatives confirmed that they will stay in Wake. Today's announcement came in the wake of a decision to give $18 million in state incentives for Red Hat to stay in NC.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2011 at Bull City Rising
Durham's Bull City Forward, a non-profit incubator that encourages local, sustainable entrepeneurship, is hosting a holiday market tomorrow. The market will be held Wednesday starting at 7pm at BCF's headquarters, 101 W Main Street. The lineup of vendors includes many Durham-based bussinesses and services that put an emphasis on community enrichment. Included in the mix are TROSA, Beyu Cafe, The Scrap Exchange, Bountiful Backyards, and many more. Food will be available for purchase from Farmhand Foods' sausage wagon, itself a business that was mentored by Bull City Forward. Beer will be offered for sale by Durham's Fullsteam Brewery. The event fits well with Bull City Forward's mission, which is to spur economic development while improving the lives of citizens. To meet this goal, BCF provides mentorship, research, recruitment, and networking services to socially concious entrepeneurs. Holiday market attendees are reminded to bring cash or checks, as most vendors will not have the ability to process credit card transactions. BCF has set up a page for attendees to RSVP. Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Wednesday marked the celebration of Downtown Durham, Inc's 2010 annual meeting. The event, which serves as a version of a shareholders meeting for those interested and active in downtown's redevelopment, provides an annual re-cap of accomplishments in Downtown Durham's renaissance. The meeting is also forward-looking, however, and remarks by Bill Kalkhof, DDI's president, and Jim Goodmon, owner of Capitol Broadcasting and the American Tobacco Campus, give the citizenry a picture of the current challenges and opportunities in downtown re-development. A summary of the meeting follows after the jump. ~~~~~ The meeting commenced with an awards ceremony that highlighted exemplary developments that occurred during the last fiscal year. Included in the awardees were Dorian Bolden, owner of Beyu Cafe, and Greg Rowland, CEO of Mindworks Multimedia. Both were awarded with Outstanding Downtown Business awards. Reynolds Maxwell of Headwall Development received an Outstanding Downtown Development award for his work on the 1000 W Main St building, which houses FiFi's, Nomadic Trading Company, and Uniquities. Also receiving the Outstanding Downtown Development award was Barry Radcliffe, owner of 308 W Main St, the recently-renovated former home of Ringside that is still awaiting a retail tenant for the first floor. In the public-private partnerships category, awards went to the Bull City Connector and the Corcoran and City Center parking deck renovations. The largest award of the day, DDI's Visionary Award, went to Andy Widmark of Mark Properties. It was work by Widmark and the students of his graduate-level real estate development class that led to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Two large downtown development projects were heard by the Board of County Commissioners tonight. Approval of bond funding for the Chesterfield Building and incentives for Greenfire's conversion of the Hill Building into a luxury boutique hotel comes in close to a financing deadlines, as the ARRA-enabled Recovery Zone financing of both projects has with a December 31st deadline for bond issuance. This tight deadline means that money will be available shortly after the first of the year for both developers, a welcomed sight for those awaiting re-development of the two previously stalled projects. ~~~~~ Durhamite Josh Parker and his company Chesterfield Partners are seeking approval of $65 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to be used to convert downtown's Chesterfield Building into retail, office, 152 apartments, and a self-storage facility in the inner core of the building. The bond arrangement became available through ARRA, and extends the benefit of tax-exempt financing to large projects that typically would not qualify due to their private sector ownership. The tax-exempt status makes interest revenue from the bonds more appealing to private investors, rendering it easier to secure financing during the ongoing credit crunch. Marketing of the bonds is entirely the responsibility of the developers. Additionally, because the bonds are classified as private activity bonds, they are secured by Chesterfield Partners. This puts no liability on the county or state government in the case of default. After a brief presentation and comments from Downtown Durham, Inc and the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the motion... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2010 at Bull City Rising
[Update: This post has been edited for grammar and clarity. Additionally, I have added some more introductory matter.] Rob here, live-blogging tonight's debate between Congressman David Price and Rebpublican challenger BJ Lawson. The debate is co-sponsored by BCR and the Independent Weekly. A large crowd has turned out for tonight's debate, with a large number of Lawson supporters wearing Lawson for Congress pins. Upon my arrival at ten 'til 6, there were already more than 75 Lawson supporters present and passing out literature and pins. Unfortunately, Durham Station has a capacity of just under 160. At 6:20, DPD called the event at capacity, and no new arrivals were alllowed to enter. Unfortunately, the demographic present at the debate was not representative of Durham, in that it was overwhelmingly white and over 50 years old. There could be many reasons for this, so I won't attempt to speculate. The format is 90-second response, 90-second rebuttal, followed by a 30-second rebuttal by the original respondent. Opening Statements Price- Lifelong resident of the Triangle, and understands what makes the Triangle thrive. Focus on infrastructure investments, education at all levels, and a critique of Lawson's positions. Lawson- A promise of new ideas for Washington. Focus on health care, restoring trust in government, and job creation through local (not Federal) mechanisms. Claims that problems have been created over the past 20 years, the time Price has been in office. America spends more per capita than any other nation on healthcare, yet has not had the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Update: Dale McKeel has written BCR to inform us that this section of Washington Street is under contract for a sidewalk addition. A sidewalk will be added outside the current curb on the west side of Washington St. Unfortunately, this sidewalk will not address the excessive width of Washington Street, a factor that discourages pedestrian activity. Also, because this sidewalk will be on one side of the street, residents on the east side of Washington will be forced to cross the street to travel on the side walk and then cross again to head to Club Boulevard Elementary. The sidewalk should be in placed by May 2011. Today marks the celebration of International Walk to School Day, a day in which local governments encourage school children to walk or ride to school. The movement is a public health intervention that has several aims, the first and most obvious being the re-introduction of physical activity into the lives of children. It may not seem like much, but a simple half-mile walk twice a day may be the only exercise that most children will get in a day. With childhood obesity rates rising with each passing year, walking to school could be an effective way to get children some form of daily exercise. Not to mention other ancillary effects, such as the community cohesion that will come from walking and talking with your neighbors five days a week. It does not appear that Durham Public Schools is participating in today's event at... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2010 at Bull City Rising
After more than six months of construction, Durham now has another new music venue. Motorco Music Hall, a 450-person music venue in the Durham's Central Park district, is set to open its doors for the first time tonight. Motorco is t he second music venue to open in Durham this month, fresh on the heels of The Casbah, a 300-head club in the Brightleaf Square area. First introduced to the world as The Geer, Motorco Music Hall is a collaboration between Chris Tamplin, Jeremy Roth, and Mike and Candy Webster. With a capacity of 450, the new venue will be the fourth-largest daily rock venue in the triangle. Booking at the new venue is being headed by Chris Tamplin, who was formerly in charge of booking the Local Band, Local Beer series at Raleigh's Tir na nOg. The series became quite successful over the last three years, with Tamplin eventually becoming responsible for booking music 3 nights a week at the bar. Tamplin's experience booking Tir na nOg led him to meet Motorco's three other partners, who were in pursuit of opening a new Durham venue. The group has spent the last six month renovating the Weeks-Allen Motor Company building at the corner of Rigsbee and Geer. After countless hours of hard labor by the group, the new venue is ready to open. Tonight, Motorco hosts a CD release party for the Chapel Hill band North Elementary. The venue has a second show slated for tomorrow night, featuring Luego and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2010 at Bull City Rising
As the saying goes, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. For those following the billboard industry’s request to allow ultra-bright digital signs that change message every eight seconds, it may be over Monday. That’s when the Board of County Commissioners will resume a public hearing on the matter that was delayed on August 9, just one week after City Council voted unanimously to uphold the city’s current ban on digital billboards. One factor acknowledged in City Council's decision was the outpouring of opposition to Fairway Outdoor Advertising’s proposal. Many council members noted that night that they received over 1,000 messages in opposition to Fairway’s proposal, while they received less than 10 messages in favor. We’ve covered the many reasons behind this deluge of emails, letters, and phone calls previously, and a quick read can bring you up to speed on the proposal. What’s new, however, are the implications of City Council’s decision. If the BoCC votes yes on Fairway’s proposal, it will only apply outside of city limits. Additionally, the county is expected to be the sole source of funding for the proposal's implementation and enforcement costs. These costs are estimated by the Planning Department to be up to $120,000 the first year, and $100,000 each subsequent year. Many billboard opponents point to this sum as a good reason to vote no. It is estimated that the new digital billboards will only bring in $28,800 a year in tax revenue, causing a revenue shortfall of up to $71,200 a year.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Casbah, the new, Brightleaf-area music venue on Main Street, is set to open its doors tonight at 6pm. After a frantic week of final construction and the unavoidable regulatory hoops, owner Jana Bradley is ready to debut the nightspot she has been working on for the past nine months. At approximately 300 seats, Casbah weighs in at half the size of Chapel Hill's Cats Cradle. That won't stop Steve Gardner, Casbah's booking guru, from trying to draw in the best of local, regional, and national acts. Gardner has over 15 years of experience working for record labels, but besides for a few house shows, this is his first time on the other side of the bookings table. Although it's still early, the venue appears poised for success with October and November's schedules almost full. Casbah is hoping to have shows Wednesday through Saturday each week. Additionally, the venue has lined up a monthly date with The Monti, a group dedicated to storytelling and narrative. Casbah is also available for private parties and other events. The venue has a grand opening set for September 15th featuring Joy Kills Sorrow and Caitlin Cary and Matt Douglas of The Small Ponds. The first two weekends will be an opportunity for the community to come out, view the new space, and obtain their state-obligated membership. Casbah will have a full bar in addition to their selection of sixteen draft beers. The draft list includes many local and regional craft brews, with two beers featured... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Alex Mitchell, president of Southern Durham Development, has announced a list of new committed elements for the 751 South assemblage, a proposed development in South Durham near the Chatham county line. These new committed elements come on the eve of the continuation of the July 26th public hearing of their rezoning request. The rezoning request would allow SDD to build up to 1300 housing units and 600,000 square feet of retail, a vast increase over the parcel's current zoning. The full list of proposed concessions, first reported by Samiha Khanna at the Indy, includes several environmental commitments designed to allay opponent’s fears. One concession novel to Durham, yet standard practice in many communities, is a promise of affordable housing. Affordable housing is in significant shortage in every metropolitan area in the nation. A 2000 study done by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that there is a nationwide shortage of over one million low income housing units, which are units affordable to those making between 50 and 80 percent of the median household income. Housing is generally considered affordable when total housing costs do not exceed 30 percent of a household's income. This 30 percent figure is recognized to include all housing costs, including mortgage, taxes, insurance, and utilities. For a unit to be considered affordable to a 4-person household making 80% of Durham’s median household income (MHI), total monthly housing costs would need to be less than $1,356 a month. At 50% of the MHI, this figure drops... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Note: As this post was going to press, the Indy confirmed K&L Gates' request for a deferral. K&L Gates has indicated that it will request a delay of the Board of County Commissioner's vote on Fairway Outdoor Advertising’s proposed billboard overlay district. The deferral would move the Commissioners' vote on Fairway's proposal, which would allow replacement of up to one-fourth of existing signs with digital versions that change messages every eight seconds, to September 13th. The BoCC vote is the long-awaited final chapter in the ongoing saga of Fairway's attempt to change Durham's off-premise sign ordinance. As previously covered here at BCR, Fairway has been lobbying for over two years for a modification of Durham’s off-premise sign ordinance. As currently written, the 1984 ordinance prevents modifications to billboards that cost more than 25% of their present value. This limit prevents the upgrade of billboards to the new digital format, which would drastically increase Fairway’s revenue. Debate over the billboards proposal has resulted in a strong outpouring of opposition to Fairway’s proposal. During Monday’s City Council meeting, council members noted that they had received over 1,000 emails opposing Fairway’s proposal, with less than 10 emails in favor of digital billboards. This was noted as one of the driving factors behind City Council’s unanimous vote against Fairway’s proposal. The Board of County Commissioners was scheduled to vote on the same proposal next Monday, August 9. A yes vote from the BoCC would allow Fairway to make their proposed switch to digital outside... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2010 at Bull City Rising
The debate over digital billboards in Durham has been ongoing for over two years now. All things in life must end, however -- the billboard debate included. Durham's City Council and the Board of County Commissioners will be voting independently on Fairway’s proposed changes to Durham’s sign ordinances at their next meetings, Aug. 2 and Aug. 9 respectively. Fairway seeks to allow replacement of all billboards in Durham, with up to one-fourth of these signs being replaced with digital displays that change message every eight seconds. Next week marks the beginning of the end of that long debate, which has seen warring web sites, opposing results from opinion polls, email campaigns and non-profit lobbying, plus the recently-debated appearance of a little-known City-Wide PAC group in the voting mix. Will the industry's lobbying effort pay off? Or will a group of residents fighting the mix -- including some of the citizens who first lobbied themselves for a Durham anti-billboard measure in the 80s -- prevail? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ First, some background. Durham’s current billboard ordinances came into being in 1984, when the city banned all new billboards and relegated existing billboards to a nonconforming use status. The nonconforming status meant that all work done on the structures could be maintenance only, forcing removal when their repair costs exceed 25% of replacement value. The ordinances were written with an eye toward removing all billboards in Durham County, with the ordinance is working at a slow, natural pace. Of the 200... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Southern Durham Development, the Raleigh-based developers behind the 751 South project, may have found a way to invalidate the protest petition filed against their property's rezoning. The petition, ruled valid earlier this month, would require a super-majority for rezoning of their parcel to allow higher residential density. A July 13 deed of easement, a copy of which recently posted to the register of deeds website, shows that Southern Durham Development requested and received a 41 foot extension to the state’s road easement that surrounds some of the property. The easement previously stood at 60 feet, yielding a new easement of 101 feet. For those familiar with the county’s protest petition process, 101 feet is a unique number. For a signature on the protest petition to be valid, the signatory must own property within 100 feet of the parcel considered for rezoning. SDD's easement strategy may invalidate the signatures of all property owners in the Chancellor’s Ridge development, which sits across NC-751 from SDD’s site. Quite interesting is the date of Southern Durham Development’s deed of easement. The deed carries a July 13 filing date, the same day in which Planning Director Steve Medlin ruled the protest petition valid. Even if all Chancellor's Ridge signatories are removed from the petition, it may still remain valid. A valid petition would necessitate that four of the five county commissioners approve the proposed rezoning at Monday’s meeting. A new law, passed in this year’s session of the NC General Assembly, expanded criteria for approving... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2010 at Bull City Rising
One of Durham's two new music venues, currently undergoing construction at the corner of Rigsbee and Geer in the DAP district of downtown, has announced their official name (for info on the second venue, see this BCR story). According to a profile of Chris Tamplin in this week's edition of the Indy, the venue has adopted the name "Motorco Music Hall". Mind you, this announcement may be inadvertent, as a Facebook post from July 14 claims that the unveiling of the name will not occur for a few weeks. For pictures of the construction progress, visit the new venue's official site, 2010 looks like it will go down as the year that the DAP area re-emerges as a vibrant commercial district. This year should mark the official opening of Fullsteam brewery, the opening of Motorco Music Hall and, if the health inspection report at CarpeDurham is any indication, King's Sandwich Shop should be opening in the next few weeks. Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Jim Wise at the N&O notes that the 751 South protest petition has been ruled valid, meaning that four of the five county commissioners must give approval to the project's proposed rezoning at their July 26 meeting. One caveat, however, is that signatories may choose to remove their name from the protest petition before the July 26 meeting; if enough names are removed, the petition will be ruled invalid. No names may be added to the petition, however. Read the full story at the News & Observer. You can read more about the protest petition in this earlier BCR story. Update #1: The H-S' Ray Gronberg does the new math thing in this morning's paper, looking at the impact of recently-passed standards aligning Durham County protest petition requirements with the standards for municipalities. At least one project supporter in the Chancellor's Ridge neighborhood to get his HOA to back away from signing the protest -- and there've been questions out there as to whether a protest petition would be valid if their signature fails. According to Gronberg's calculation, the new standards would allow the protest petition to hang in there even if the HOA's support was dropped, something not true under the old standards: Under the new standard, participation by the Chancellor's Ridge association wouldn't be a make-or-break issue. Without it, opponents would still have signatures representing 5.52 percent of the land in the 100-foot-wide buffer surrounding the 751 South site, Medlin said. As the paper notes, the next logical... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Note: This article is third in a three part series on beer in Durham. Most folks can agree that North Carolina is well-known for its beer. To be clear, all the recent honors in the beer industry have been bestowed to our Appalachian neighbor to the West, Asheville (including a very recent nod to the city and its nine breweries as “Beer City USA”). The Triangle region, however, may just have what it takes to step forward as a beer destination, bringing tourists and their pocketbooks to savor food and drink on a long weekend. The Triangle already has many attributes that would make it perfect as a beer destination, the most important of which is an active brewery scene. By recent counts, Carolina’s piedmont region plays host to 12 breweries and brewpubs (to those keeping count—Triangle, Fullsteam, LoneRider, Roth, Big Boss, Carolina Brewing Co, Natty Greene’s, Aviator, Boylan Bridge, Top of the Hill, and Carolina Brewery in both Chapel Hill and Pittsboro). Additionally, our bars and restaurants understand beer. It is commonplace to walk into any bar or restaurant and choose from at least a dozen regional and national craft beers on tap, plus dozens more in bottles. As locals, we've come to take for granted the variety and atmosphere that many beer enthusiasts can only dream of. Additional draws to the Triangle include a strong restaurant scene and a cluster of performance venues including the Carolina Theatre, DPAC, Man Bites Dog Theater, and Common Ground (with many opportunities... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Note: This article is second in a 3-part series on beer in Durham. As Ful lsteam prepares its operation for an opening this summer, Triangle Brewing Company, Durham’s first microbrewery, is celebrating its third anniversary with a new canning line and increased capacity. Andy Miller and Rick Tufts, founders of Triangle Brewing Company, have kept themselves busy the past three years expanding their brand and fostering an appreciation for Belgian-style ales in North Carolinians. The two owners, themselves both starting out as home brewers over twenty years ago, never intended to open a Belgian brewery. In fact, the pair didn't begin to appreciate Belgian beer styles until after Tuft’s internship at Flying Fish, a Belgian-inspired brewery in New Jersey. Prior to that, Tufts and Miller’s beer recipes focused on traditional American craft styles such as pale ales and IPAs. To be fair, Triangle has a diverse beer repertoire representative of more than just Belgian styles, having featured stouts, pale ales, amber ales, and even a rauchbier in their seasonal lineup. The Belgian-style beers have remained their mainstays, with the Triangle White recently surpassing the Golden as the top seller. Triangle has made a name for itself in recent years. If you walk into any bar in central North Carolina, you can expect to see at least one of their beers on tap. Durham, of course, remains a stronghold for TBC beers—many Durhamites love their beer almost as much as they love their hometown, so a Durham-brewed beer is a top... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Note: This is the first in a 3-part series on beer in Durham. The development of Fullsteam Brewery has been closely followed on the Internet by both beer aficionados and proponents of local food systems alike -- and come August 13, its social media won't be the only thing you can consume. That's the opening day for the new brewery, which has located itself at 726 Rigsbee in Durham’s Central Park district, and which promises to extend the farm-to-fork model to beer, resulting in a “plow to pint” product that is eagerly awaited by many in the Durham food scene. Fullsteam is spearheaded Sean Lilly Wilson, the former leader of North Carolina’s ‘Pop the Cap’ campaign, which successfully lobbied the NC Legislature to raise the state’s alcohol-by-volume limit on beers from 6% to 15% in 2005. A country boy at heart, Wilson desires to extend the recent and vibrant farm-to-fork focus in the local food scene to the world of beer, an industry dominated by both traditional styles and international conglomerates. Durham is well-known for its love of craft beer (more on this will come later in the series); new to both our city and the South as a whole, however, is a focus on the still un-defined genre of Southern beer. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Fullsteam is Wilson’s first formal beer gig, with Pop the Cap being a strictly volunteer position. Beer, however, has been an integral part of Wilson’s life since his move to Durham in the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2010 at Bull City Rising
For the past seven months, Durham has been developing a strategic plan to better coordinate city departments and services and identify future focus areas for the city’s work. Durham’s SWOC process -- standing for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges -- began in November, utilizing paper and online surveys of citizens, city employees, and key stakeholders such as City Council, department directors, and city commission members. This process resulted in a report presented to City Council in February (view the SWOC report in PDF format here). After inventorying existing conditions, strategic planning processes were then used to define the mission of the organization and enumerate goals and objectives and define initiatives for achieving the mission. Although still in draft stages, Durham’s Strategic Plan gives insights into funding and work priorities that will receive special emphasis over the next decade. Durham’s draft plan has adopted the statement: “To provide quality services to make Durham a great place to live, work and play”. Additionally, the city has adopted several core values (focused in areas such as integrity, customer service, fairness, and others). In order to achieve its mission, Durham has set five goals, each with their own set of initiatives to achieve these goals. A close reading of the draft plan affirms that many of the city's long-standing programs will continue; however, several new initiatives are hinted at by the report. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ In Durham's case, three of the city's five goals are continuations of long-standing projects, and detail on-going... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Durham’s food trucks have gotten quite a bit of press over the past few weeks, most notably with a special feature in the N&O and a New York Times piece that featured Daisy Cakes (in addition to several other Durham restaurants) -- and in this week's Indy Week feature to boot. If you haven’t had a chance yet to visit the roving restaurants, this Sunday is your chance. An email circulating the listservs notes that this Sunday, June 27, the second installment of Durham’s Food Truck Rodeo will be convening at the Durham Farmer’s Market Pavillion at 501 Foster St in the Central Park district. The trucks will include Daisy Cakes, OnlyBurger, Mom’s Delicious Dishes, Winkie’s Dogs, Parlez-Vous Crepe, Bulkogi, LocoPops (itself getting a recent mention at CNN), Kona Chameleon, The Big Red Bus, and Joe Bushfan’s Big Hot Dogs. The event starts at 4:00, and runs until 7:00. As seen in the picture from the first event, the crowd is expected to be large, so arrive early if you want the best selection. (Last time around, a number of the trucks ran flat-out of food, though there's promises of more supplies this time 'round.) Also, note that most trucks are cash only; if you forget, closest ATMs are at RBC Bank (Morgan/Morris) or the downtown Marriott. Besides the food, there'll be music by Durham's own DJ Piddipat's Dance Party. Photo by Rodney Dioxin via Flickr. Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2010 at Bull City Rising
A reading of Thursday’s City Council Work Session agenda reveals good news for advocates of Durham’s Targeted Neighborhood Commercial Streetscapes project. One of the five targeted neighborhoods, the Angier/Driver corridor, has been selected to receive funding for final design and implementation of the proposed streetscape development. The city’s chosen source of funding, however, has lead many community members to question the city’s commitment to implementing the remaining four streetscape projects. The city’s streetscapes program has drawn wide coverage in local media, including the N&O, Herald-Sun, and here at BCR-- it even drew a nod from Mayor Bell during this February’s State of the City Address. The program is an attempt to inject new life into long-struggling business districts in Durham’s urban core, with five commercial districts targeted for the initial design phase. Funding for the design work, which was conducted by Akron, OH based EG&G Inc., was obtained through the 2005 Streets and Sidewalk Bond ($1.2m) with $750,000 from additional, ‘pay-as-you-go’ sources. The public meetings and preliminary design work, which cost the city just under $300,000, culminated last spring with a focused vision for rejuvenated business districts. The price tag for implementation of all recommended elements in the five corridors was steep, with an initial estimate of $55.3 million. Of this, over half ($33.3m) was for the 3-mile stretch of Fayetteville St, with the balance split between West Chapel Hill St ($4.6m), East Main St ($5.0m), North Mangun/Corporation St ($5.9m), and the Angier Ave/Driver St intersection ($6.6m). Due to the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2010 at Bull City Rising
Rob Gillespie is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 6, 2010