AP NEWS

400 square feet in downtown Durham ‘naturally affordable’ at $150K

May 7, 2019

A Durham developer wants to build what he calls “naturally affordable” condominiums, homes with a smaller footprint to go along with a smaller cost, to draw residents to the increasingly popular downtown.

For long-time residents of the Bull City, the numbers seem a bit incredible. The smallest floorplans in City Port Durham would feature just 404 to 411 square feet of living space for an asking price of $157,900 to $215,900.

Ryan Streeter, who works in Durham and lives in Raleigh, said, “That’s like New York prices. That’s a little out of control.” Streeter said he left New York to escape sky-high costs.

But for Taylor Coil, who recently made the move to Durham from New York, City Port sounds about right.

“In New York City, I was living in a 400-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment that was about $3,000 a month. That’s not really why I moved back,” she said. “A lower price point of $150K is interesting, because approachable price points in city centers are meaningful.”

That’s the idea behind the plan for City Port, said Scott Harmon, whose Center Studio Architecture is a partner in the project.

“We’re trying to, by being innovative about the design and about the construction, to offer just greater options for more people that are trying to move into downtown,” he said.

City Port offers 43 homes – studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes – at prices up to $565,000. The 400-square-foot studio price actually compares favorably on a per-square-foot basis to other recent sales in downtown Durham. The starting price at City Port is $157,900, or $390.84 per square foot.

“It’s high, but it’s actually comparatively low,” said Jeff Goldman, a broker with 501 Realty. “We’re seeing between 400 and 600+ per square foot for downtown condos.”

Real estate records show a 434-square-foot condo sold in November sold for $174,900, or $416 per square foot. In March, two units at One City Center, at 110 N. Corcoran, changed hands for more than $600 per square foot.

“I think there’s a huge drive for people to want to be downtown,” Goldman said. “The biggest thing people are buying is the location. I think there is a large portion of buyers who just want the location, but don’t want to have a big unit.”

At 600 S. Duke St., City Port is a just outside the downtown Durham loop.

“This development project is reaching the missing middle market,” Harmon said. “It just gives more people a chance to start building equity.”

Goldman agrees. “I think there aren’t many developers right now that are making units, new-build construction condos downtown under $200,000,” he said.

Coil, the recent transplant from New York, thinks young buyers are likely to bite. “It’s a very small place,” she said, “but if it means that someone could invest in real estate at a lower age, or with a lower down payment, then I think it’s something that’s interesting.”