Program Review – Morris Ridge Update

Scherich Jernigan and MedlinWhen Jack Wiggen had to miss the meeting Seth Jernigan stepped in and introduced Bryan Scherich and Drew Medlin who together run Measurement Durham, LLC the real estate arm ofDurham’s own Measurement Inc. They joined us to provide an update on Morris Ridge, an urban mixed use development just north of the Civic CenteronMorris Street. Measurement Inc. is the highly successful firm begun by Bryan’s father Hank Scherich that provides achievement tests and scoring services for state governments, other testing companies, and various organizations. MI evolved from a consultancy originally focusing on writing to become an important player in the field of education.

Both Bryan Scherich and Mr. Medlin grew up in Durham and besides their responsibilities in the company are active in the community. Mr. Scherich is on the board of the Durham Lions Club and Durham Central Park, the latter in close proximity to the Morris Ridge development. Mr. Medlin is a board member of Preservation Durham, Downtown Durham, Inc., the Furman University Alumni Association and is an active member of the Urban Land Institute.

Bryan Scherich delivered the bulk of the presentation which included a good deal of the history of the buildings in Downtown that MI acquired and occupied. This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me, because I spent many hours in meetings in the original MI headquarters building when it was CCB’s operations center and I was their marketing director in the mid-eighties. When I suggested to Mr. Scherich that most of the money that passed through that building was in the form of checks, not cash, he told me about how as a child he played in the safe in the basement. If I looked startled it wasn’t because I had forgotten about that safe which I think was there when the building was built by BC Powders, but because I was talking to a grown man who probably hadn’t been born when I was familiar with the building.

It was also a reminder of the magnitude of the bet Hank Scherich made on Downtown. When CCB abandoned the building to build an operations center west of town just off Route 70 it was in spite of entreaties to take part of the old American Tobacco plant that closed in 1988 and renovate it for the operations center.  In the same time frame the Herald-Sun decided not to build downtown and moved to their current location off Pickett Road.  The first grand plans for the renovation of the American Tobacco building collapsed and it was starting to look like the downward slide of Downtown would never turn around.

Fast forward a few years with DDI in place with Bill Kalkhof at the helm. One of the highlights of my tenure on the board of DDI was presenting an award to Hank Scherich for the redevelopment of that same building at DDI’s annual meeting which then could be held in a small meeting room. As the younger Mr. Scherich chronicled, MI went on to acquire more historic real estate in Downtown including the classic DC May/Imperial Tobacco building which is also on Morris St.

Morris Ridge is another significant bet on Downtown but probably not as risky as some of the earlier ones since, to borrow from DDI’s new slogan, Downtown has found it’s cool. The $12.5 million project will have 5 stories of retail and class A office space at the corner of Morris and Hunt Street totaling almost 74,000 square feet. Eventually there are also plans for a condominium development along Hunt Street which will truly make the area around the old ballpark something special.

As Bryan Scherich noted it’s great to see a crane on Durham’s skyline again and we can anticipate by the time the daffodils fade this spring Morris Ridge will be enclosed and headed towards completion. Measurement Inc. will retain about half the space for the further expansion of their business. More information about the project including leases and how to contact Mr. Scherich or Mr.Medlin can be found at www.morrisridge.com

 

 

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