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City gathers input for revitalization of Murchison Road corridor


Nicholle Young says she is “just so invested in this area” when she talks about the Murchison Road corridor of Fayetteville.

Young, who is 35 and a December graduate of Fayetteville State University, was among the 125 people who attended the Murchison Choice Neighborhood Planning project meeting Tuesday evening on the college campus.

Members of the Fayetteville Economic and Community Development team and integral community partners in the Choice Neighborhood project were available at the Rudolph Jones Student Center to listen to residents, answer questions and take note of public input that could help shape the future of the corridor.

The goal of the Choice project is to gather revitalization plans for Murchison Road from those who call the area home.

“Primarily speaking, I have relatives who attended E.E. Smith High School, and I work in archives in the Chesnutt Library,” Young said of the Fayetteville State library. “I have been researching the history of this corridor. It’s fascinating.”

She noted how much the university has played a significant role in the Murchison Road community.

As for some of her transformational ideas for the area, Young said, “First and foremost a grocery store and a pharmacy. I would love an IGA. There are a lot of commuters on this side of town. I would like to see a community-owned bank. And I’m a big fan of intergenerational housing.”

Young said the two-hour interactive session “is important to get feedback from people, whether they are residents or commute to this area.”

Participants were told to follow a path through the student center as the expo-style rows of displayed exhibits were meant to tell the story of the Murchison Choice Neighborhood Planning project.

In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the city of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority a $450,000 planning grant to revitalize Murchison Road between Rowan Street and Pamalee Drive/Country Club Drive.

“We’re looking at feedback on areas to preserve, to enhance and to grow,” said Chris Cauley, the director of Fayetteville’s Economic and  Community Development. 

The city and the housing authority plan to apply for a competitive $50 million federal Choice Implementation grant to execute plans for the Murchison corridor through the Choice planning process.

“It’s very competitive,” Cauley said. “The Murchison Road area is definitely a contender. It’s what HUD was put in place for. Now HUD is looking at things holistically and not just as a housing replacement.”

Glenn Adams, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, also attended the meeting.

“The county is here in collaboration with the city to enhance Murchison Road,” Adams said.

Cauley said the three pillars of the Neighborhood of Choice idea are housing, people and neighborhoods.

During the meeting, residents were asked to rank ideas for the Murchison Choice revitalization plan, including needs for housing, retail businesses, food stores and restaurants and other services that are more commonplace in other parts of Fayetteville.

Murchison Road, after losing a Walmart Neighborhood Market several years ago, is once again a food desert.

Fayetteville State representatives were available to discuss the university’s Master Plan, which defines and outlines its future growth impacting the area, a news release said.

Adam Rosa of the urban planning firm Collabo said five working groups had been brainstorming potential projects and prioritizing and voting on a bigger list of projects. Collabo serves as the coordinator for the Choice grant.

The working groups, he said, concentrated on five areas:

  • History, equity and inclusion;
  • Housing and commercial development;
  • Education and job training;
  • Safety and security;
  • And transportation and open space.

“We’re trying to create the best plan possible, so we’ll have an application for the next grant,” Rosa said.

Cauley said 10 or 11 planning grants – such as the one Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority have been awarded – are doled out on an annual basis. From those, three or four applicants will receive an implementation grant.

“The program has been around 10-ish years,” he said.

Nineteen-year-old Malik Neal said he has seen needs for the community because he’s been on the streets.

“I see it first-hand what goes on. What men in business suits don’t see,” he said. “They’re not seeing the bigger picture.”

Neal said he would like to see the Seabrook pool upgraded and more public basketball courts to help keep kids off the streets.

Ken Burrow, a 24-year-old budding entrepreneur, said he moved to Fayetteville a year ago. He owns a carpet cleaning company and a duplex rental property on Coley Drive in the Murchison corridor.

His vision of a future for the Murchison Road corridor would include a grocery store and a community center where youth can go for different activities.

Shatara Hetheru-Bey, who was representing Divine Doula Goddess of Fayetteville, said the area needs “more cultural and spiritual safe places to connect with our ancestors.”

"I feel we'll ultimately have a decision," she added, "and funding can be dispensed properly for community needs."

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Murchison Road, revitalization, Murchison Choice Neighborhood Plan