Growth & Development

Residents Give Feedback on Proposed Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center

More than 40 people came out to Carrboro Town Hall earlier last night to give the Board of Alderman their thoughts about a proposed Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center downtown. The project, a joint effort of The ArtsCenter and Kidzu, would consist of a center with three performing arts center and kids museum located at at the intersection of Main and Roberson Streets.

The two partners propose raising half of the $15 million cost, with the town paying for the other half. They argue that the costs on the public side would be covered by tax revenues from a new hotel on the current ArtsCenter site that would also be part of the development. The town would own the new building, and the two non-profit partners would form a new organization that would raise funds for operations and manage the facility. That organization's new board will be appointed by the town. The partners estimated the economic impact of the project at around $320 million over the next 25 years.

"Public" Participation: A Look at Central West

Researchers at the UNC School of Government recently released the results of a survey (PDF) they conducted about Chapel Hill’s Central West Small Area Plan process. You might have seen some press and spin about this survey and the comments participants provided in the survey. But before we start extrapolating from these data, it’s important to make sure we understand who provided feedback on the Central West process and how those individuals compare to our community at large.

Making this comparison is particularly important to assess and understand the effectiveness of public participation efforts in our local government. After all, if public participation is primarily coming from specific groups of people and other groups are being left out of the process, that’s not true public participation or engagement -- it’s the privileging of certain groups at the expense of the rest of our community.

So let’s take a look at the demographic data of the Central West survey participants compared to the 2010 Census data for the town of Chapel Hill. Here’s what the age and race data look like:

Village Plaza Apartments Approved

The Town of Chapel Hill has approved Vilage Plaza Apartments, the first development proposed under the new form-based code implemented in the Ephesus-Fordham District.

Village Plaza Apartments will be constructed on the vacant site located between the Whole Foods shopping center and the ABC Store on South Elliot Rd. The development will bring 265 apartments, ground-floor retail space, a parking deck, greenway improvements, and roadway improvements. Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment will be approximately $1,150/month while a 2-bedroom apartment will rent for about $1,600/month.

Full information about the approval and the development is available on the Town's website here.

A Goal for 2015: Increased Walkability

Walkable, dense neighborhoods are good for us. That’s what this recent CityLab article concludes, citing numerous peer-reviewed research studies. And not only are these kinds of neighborhoods good for us, they’re good for the sustainability of our communities long term. For example:

Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center: Smart Public-Private Partnership?

Note: I posted this blog entry on my personal website on Sunday, January 4th, 2015, but opted to share it here as well at the invitation of OP editors. While I'm eager to learn what others think about the proposed Arts and Innovation Center and the numerous, interesting issues related to the proposal at hand, I'm not contributing this piece to start or stoke a debate between me and OP readers and contributors. I'm just throwing it out there as a thought piece.  My mind might change.  So might the proposal.  Who knows?  (It's Carrboro!)  Looking forward to reading other people's comments and ideas, and to hearing from residents, business owners, in-town workers and others at the public hearing or beforehand. The BOA already is getting really thoughtful comments by email as a result of the broadly-distributed notice of public hearing.  Hope you'll consider weighing in as well.

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