Developer’s big plans for Durham’s Coca-Cola bottling plant are taking shape

A proposed development that would replace an aging Coca-Cola bottling plant with apartments, townhomes and a grocery store was unveiled this week.

“This project creates a new walkable destination with a grocery store for one of our well-established neighborhoods,” said attorney Patrick Byker, who represents the developer.

The Coca-Cola bottling facility sits on nearly 12 acres at 3214 Hillsborough Road. Jay Douglas heads up development for the Atlanta-based firm Ardent, which submitted the rezoning application.

Plans show the existing building would be demolished to make way for:

  • 405 maximum units (The proposed breakdown is approximately 370 apartments and 35 for-sale townhomes.)

  • A grocery store (Douglas declined to name the chain, but said it would be a “high-end organic” supermarket.)

  • 520 spaces in a parking structure that would be surrounded by the five-story wood frame apartments.

  • A drive-thru coffee shop.

The Planning Commission, an advisory body, unanimously voted to support the project Tuesday night. It must get the City Council’s approval to proceed.

Ardent offered to set aside some of the housing units as affordable based on the area’s median income:

  • 5% of the apartments affordable for 10 years (half at 80% of the area median income and half at 100% of the AMI)

  • Five of the townhomes affordable at 80% of the AMI for 30 years

A changing neighborhood

Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Co. — a locally owned bottler that holds contracts with Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper and Monster Energy — still owns the property, though it has announced plans to relocate to Apex.

Douglas said they are under contract to buy the land and hope to close by the end of the year.

The brick building featuring the iconic Coca-Cola logo in white lettering was built in 1961, tax records show, though the bottler has been in business since 1905.

Hillsborough Road is a commercial thoroughfare lined with stores, restaurants and strip malls. A Harris Teeter and Food Lion are within a half-mile of the property, which borders a bank, drug store, Hillandale Golf Course and some single-family homes.

Cecil Lockley watches as ball nears the hole on Saturday, June 24, 2017 during his semifinal match at Hillandale Golf Course.
Cecil Lockley watches as ball nears the hole on Saturday, June 24, 2017 during his semifinal match at Hillandale Golf Course.

Dot Doyle is president of the neighboring Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association.

“We met ... I can’t even tell you how many times. A lot,” Doyle said.

She said they worked through traffic and stormwater concerns and were happy to have the townhouses as a buffer between the apartments and their neighborhoods. The association supports the rezoning.

“Will our neighborhood change? Yes,” said Tim Dodge, who lives in a home next door. “Hopefully it’s a model (of good development practices).”

Construction would require a new traffic signal at Hillsborough Road and Bellevue Avenue, plus an extra turn lane on Bellevue.

Douglas said the plan, if approved, is to start building in 2025 and complete the project in late 2026 or early 2027.