Part of the latest Weaver Street Market newsletter states that Weaver Street Market has sold their property at the corner of Greensboro and Main Streets to Mark Pantlin of Raleigh. (This was the former location of WCOM and Community Realty.) Apparently they had high hopes for this high-profile property in the center of Carrboro, but finally resigned themselves to just taking the money and avoiding the hassle of a new venture and new development. I keep hearing the word "Walgreens" come up in discussions of this corner, so this makes me nervous.
A friend and I did a little research to see if we could find out more about this developer. Pantlin lives in Cary, and on a LinkedIn profile he says he is President of Pantlin Development. (But he only has one connection on LinkedIn, and the NC Dept of State says Pantlin Development was dissolved in 2009.) I found him on this neat CorporationWiki network map (at left), which also lists some other companies to which he may be related. It also looks like he donated to the Republican National Committee in 2001 and to George Bush in 1999.
Of more concern is the possibility of a national chain not just locating, but developing a lot (or multiple lots, probably) in the heart of Carrboro. Since it would be right across the street from an existing chain drug store, you can't even really argue that it's meeting some community need.
Here is the message from WSM:
Weaver Street Market Sells Corner Property
Weaver Street Market has sold the property on the corner of Weaver Street and Greensboro Street in downtown Carrboro. “The corner building served us well,” said Ruffin Slater, Weaver Street Market’s General Manager. “It provided Weaver Street Market with office and meeting space and it allowed us to donate space to WCOM Community radio and Weaver Community Housing Association, two non-profits that Weaver Street helped to start.”
Weaver Street has not had a use for the property since it moved its office space from the building nearly two years ago. Weaver Street was able to help WCOM, the final occupant, move its studio in May to a new location next to the ArtsCenter. The co-op was not interested in becoming a long-term landlord and therefore decided to sell the property.
Weaver Street purchased the property eight years ago intending to make it part of a community-minded mixed-use project. Weaver Street co-sponsored a town-wide forum on the future of downtown that was led by Dan Burden of Walkable Communities, and hired the Village Project, a local non-profit, to facilitate a community workshop about potential uses for the corner property. “We wanted to create a project in keeping with Carrboro’s vision for downtown,” said Slater, “but were ultimately unable to do so.” Changes in zoning, lack of interest from adjoining property owners, and lack of consensus around the town’s vision slowed momentum for the project. Then the economy went sour and put a freeze on new development activity.
Weaver Street decided it could better serve the community by focusing its resources on its core business of selling local and organic food. The co-op has returned to break-even after a difficult financial year in 2009. “Our financial situation continues to improve,” said Slater, “and selling the property is another step in returning the co-op to a sustainable financial position. It allows us to pay back money we had to borrow last year when things were rocky.”
A Carrboro developer had an interest in purchasing the property, but was unable to obtain financing when the economy deteriorated. WSM eventually signed a contract to sell the property to Raleigh developer Mark Pantlin. The sale was completed on June 1.