Ask Mayor Schewel & Durham City Council to support creation of a Bragtown Small Area Plan

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Bragtown is under massive pressure from development and gentrification, and we need to act now to ensure that this historically and culturally rich community can have a say in its future. We must honor the legacy and preserve the history of Bragtown, a community built by individuals who, formerly enslaved at the Stagville/Cameron plantation, traveled to the area along the railroad tracks and built the community from the ground up.

Why Does Bragtown Need a Small Area Plan Now?
The Bragtown Community needs a Small Area Plan (SAP) to help ensure a thriving, diverse community that is affordable, environmentally sustainable, and that continues to embrace lifelong residents and those who helped to build Bragtown. The positive outcomes of a well implemented SAP align directly with the Durham City Council’s goals of ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable housing, a healthy environment, sustainable, thriving neighborhoods with efficient and well-maintained infrastructure, a prosperous economy, and a vibrant city that embraces and promotes its cultural diversity and heritage. 

Where Is Bragtown Now, and Where Are We Headed?
While it is often said that Durham, as a growing city, needs all types of housing, in Bragtown, more homes have not meant more affordable homes. Between 2010-2018, affordability decreased 28% in Bragtown (*Source: Durham County Tax Administration and City/County Planning Department; affordability calculated using ACS and NCHFA mortgage calculator).

In addition, costlier developments burden current Bragtown residents by increasing property taxes, which can threaten displacement. The median tax value for residences in Braggtown in the 2019 reappraisal increased by 50.7%. That is nearly double the 26% increase for residential properties countywide. 

Recent proposed developments along Old Oxford and Carver could have added 17.8% more housing units to Bragtown, with only 2% of the proposed homes being truly affordable on a long-term basis. These types of proposals will only keep coming. A SAP would allow the community to proactively address these threats to the stability of Bragtown instead of constantly having to be on the defensive for each new development proposal, and it would allow developers to submit proposals in-line with community values that will be more likely to gain support and easy approval. 

Where Does Bragtown Hope to Go? What Is Our Vision?
In working together to oppose the Old Oxford and Carver St. Assemblage projects and in supporting other community initiatives, we have been able to surface many community values and desires, including:

  • Housing that is affordable to Bragtown residents.
  • Development that doesn’t displace current residents by driving up property taxes and housing prices.
  • Green spaces and safe pedestrian walkways that connect Bragtown to parks, grocery stores, libraries, and schools, and helps to alleviate the legacy of under-investment in Black and brown neighborhoods.
  • Preserving areas for wildlife and plants, with a focus on environmental justice for Bragtown.
  • Involving the community in each step of the process and especially supporting community recommendations that align with the City’s racial equity priorities.
  • Honoring and preserving that legacy of Bragtown.

Ask Mayor Schewel and the Durham City Council to support the creation of a Small Area Plan for Bragtown. By developing a SAP through a comprehensive and inclusive process, with community members and developers at the table, we can create a plan that centers Durhamites who made Bragtown what it is today and builds a future that we can all be proud of.