Struever chosen to build N.C. project


Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc. was chosen yesterday to transform a former tobacco factory next to the Durham Bulls' baseball park in North Carolina into apartments, shops and offices, making Struever the second Baltimore-based developer in a week to get the nod for a mixed-used project adjacent to a stadium.

Struever, known for recycling industrial sites to create homes, offices and shops, will redevelop five buildings across from the downtown Durham minor league ballpark of the Bulls, a farm team that came to fame in the 1987 movie Bull Durham. The project is part of a $200 million effort to revitalize the million-square-foot former American Tobacco factory and enliven a long-vacant industrial district.

The property's owner, Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting Co. - which also owns the Bulls - has renovated about half of the site into offices for pharmaceutical, advertising and software companies and chose Struever to complete the next $65 million phase, which will include 85 apartments and about 170,000 square feet of offices and shops to be built in the next 12 to 18 months.

Struever is also working with partners in Yonkers, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn., to develop mixed-use projects around minor league parks.

C. William Struever, head of Struever Bros., which redeveloped the American Can Co. in Canton and the waterfront Tide Point office complex in Locust Point, said the Durham project fits the company's strategy of doing large-scale, multiuse projects outside of Baltimore where it can gain substantial site control.

The company's interests lie in "edge neighborhoods that have great potential in the market but that haven't happened yet," he said.

Jim Goodmon, president and chief executive of Capital Broadcasting Co. Inc., a privately held company that operates the CBS and Fox affiliates in Raleigh, said he chose Struever to do the second phase, and a third phase of development that will include up to 500 apartments, because of the developer's experience renovating historic buildings.

"He loves old buildings and he understands what we're trying to do and has been very successful," Goodmon said. "This is big for Durham that a national developer would come here and take on this project."

Last week, another Baltimore developer, the Cordish Co., was picked by the major league St. Louis Cardinals to build a mixed-use development behind the outfield of the baseball team's new stadium.

The project, featuring condominiums with views into the ballpark, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and offices on 8 acres, is a new focus for Cordish, which is pursuing additional partnerships with professional teams to create entertainment districts around sports complexes.

Other developers are also recognizing the potential of creating high-density, mixed-use projects around sports complexes. Former National Basketball Association star Magic Johnson has teamed with Mandalay Entertainment Group to invest in urban-renewal projects anchored by minor league baseball stadiums. One such project could involve a new $25 million to $35 million home for the Mandalay-owned Hagerstown Suns.

Development experts and city officials think a mix of shops, apartments and offices near sports complexes can help revitalize downtown areas by creating areas where people want to live, work and play.

Since Capitol Broadcasting bought and began renovating the former tobacco factory in Durham, attracting tenants such as GlaxoSmithKline, Compuware Corp. and restaurants, "it has become a destination point," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

"We haven't torn down our historic buildings," he said. "We've chosen to recycle them. It has served as a catalyst for other aspects of downtown redevelopment. We're trying to make our downtown a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week destination."

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