For many years Durham bore a reputation for being crime ridden. Back in the dark ages about the same time in the late 80’s when the American Tobacco company shut down its operations in Downtown Durham, I attended a public hearing at City Hall about the proposed Superconducting Super Collider. As the evening got late, I decided to walk back to my office in Brightleaf Square where I had parked. Aware of the reputation, I did this with some trepidation. However, the only other human being I saw during this fifteen-minute walk through the heart of Downtown was a guy smoking a cigarette on the steps of the South Bank building. When he saw me, he flicked away the cigarette and ran away.
So the story that McKinney COO Joni Madison recounting the difficulty of convincing their employees that they didn’t qualify for combat pay working in Downtown Durham is no surprise. In fact, we heard the same story from Scott Selig, Duke’s Vice President for Real Estate.
Ms. Madison recounted in some detail how she and McKinney Chairman Brad Brinegar arrived at the decision to relocate. She also recounted that after the fact they became aware that McKinney was the fourth and final commitment that developer Jim Goodman needed in place to finance the redevelopment of the million square feet of abandoned tobacco manufacturing facilities.