Is the 300 East Main proposal worth supporting?

I thought this was a good article in the Chapel Hill News on Sunday about the 300 East Main proposal. It seems there is a surprisingly low amount of public focus on a project that will undoubtedly reshape Carrboro and something the people have much more control over than Carolina North. So I'd like to ramp up the discussion.

I think like most people I'm not sure if I'm for or against, but I do have lots of questions and hope the Board will seek further public comment, perhaps through a charette or something. For instance, Main St. is already a traffic nightmare. How will this development affect that, esp. given that the road is state owned (and therefore hard for the town to change). What about bikes? How is this going to congest Carr Mill Parking, etc? How is it really going to affect the aesthetic on the street? I worry about a repeat of the sham of 605 W Main, where we didn't pay enough attn and a non-retail and pretty lame building slid in.

Also, as a Carrboro homeowner frankly I'm more concerned about maintaining the town character than I am about my tax bill and I think most homeowners would agree. So I'm not so compelled by the diversifying the tax base argument. And how much in taxes is it estimated to bring in? What is the budgetary impact?

That said this property is prime for some sort of redevelopment and perhaps the one on the table. But I'm worried that the decision is resting too much on tax revenue and not enough on livability. Is this project really worth supporting? If so, why, exactly?

What are folks thinking?

Issues: 

Total votes: 234

Comments

I've liked this project from the beginning. Pairing a hotel with two existing performances spaces makes a lot of sense to me. (And improving the performance spaces as well.) So instead of people driving in for shows at the Cradle and then driving out to East Chapel Hill, there concert goers are still in Carrboro. And out of town guests who aren't so inclined to stay at our house also won't have to drive across town.

I find it hard to imagine it looking worse than that particular spot does now - parking lot at the street with refurbished strip mall behind it, but I also would like to see landscaping made a priority.

I'm one of the partners in Main Street Properties, which owns and hopes to redevelop the 300 East Main site. Normally I wouldn't interrupt this discussion, but I've seen a bit of misinformation floating around the last few days so I just wanted to fill in everybody about the history of this project, and then step back and let everyone have their say.

 Most importantly, we recognize the significance of this project to Carrboro. It's a huge step to go from a suburban-style, single-story strip mall to a collection of five-story buildings and a parking deck. Our goal is to bring these buildings on line gradually, and to maintain as much as possible the character that downtown Carrboro has.

 We're quite familiar with that character, and in fact have contributed greatly to it. We've owned the property since 1986, when it was purchased to find a larger home for the ArtsCenter. Since then, we've made space for and subsidized the Cat's Cradle after it was kicked out of its Chapel Hill space. We've served as the start-up location for several businesses that moved on to bigger and better things, such as Nice Price Books, the Music Loft and the predecessor to the Skylight Exchange. We've also opened our parking lot to pretty much anyone during our off-peak times (you're welcome, Mill Town) and leased the town its primary public parking lot at Main and Roberson for the whopping sum of $10 per month.

 The last thing we want to do is screw up Carrboro, and the site plan is designed to build on and improve what's already there. The centerpiece of 300 East Main is a pedestrian plaza that's wider than Main Street and as wide as the Weaver Street Market lawn in some spots. Every building on Main Street will have ground-floor retail and restaurant space fronting the sidewalk, as will every building fronting the plaza with the possible exception of the new ArtsCenter. Opportunities for outdoor dining will abound, both at ground level and on upstairs patios. The Cat's Cradle and the ArtsCenter will get new, larger space -- something they need sooner rather than later. That's especially true for the Cradle, which is losing business to larger venues in Raleigh and Asheville and getting recruited by landlords in Durham.

 You want a public charette? You've had them. We've had three since September 2004, along with an architects' roundtable and at least a dozen appearances before the Board of Aldermen and various town advisory boards. I'd venture to say the public has never had more input into any project in Orange County, public or private, as its had into this one. And we've not only listened to the public, but responded. By the end of the week we'll have a board on display at Town Hall showing the evolution of the site plan over the past four years. Many of the changes were prompted by ideas from the public.

 Let me emphasize two words from the preceding paragraph: four years. That's how long this project has been in front of the public. 

 Carrboro decided five or six years ago it wanted taller buildings. We responded with a project that offers many of the things the community said it wanted back then: commercial tax base, density not sprawl, office space so growing businesses wouldn't have to leave town, structured parking, public gathering space and sidewalk storefronts, to name a few.  

If the aldermen think we've fallen short in providing those things, then they should vote it down. We think we've presented an excellent project that will enhance downtown. It's time for the board to decide.

 In the meantime, please stop by Town Hall late this week or early next week, by which time they'll have on display some boards showing the project's buildings, site lay-out and evolution. And if anyone has any comments or questions, I'm easy to reach. My cell phone number is 923-4343, and my email address is laura (at) 300eastmain.com.

 --Laura Van Sant 

 

Anyone ever see the Simpsons episode where they change Springfield's area code?

 

Homer:	What really burns me up is they didn't give us one word of warning.
Carl:	What do you mean?  They ran those TV commercials about it, and that big radio campaign.
Lenny: Don't forget the leaflets they dropped from the Space 	Shuttle, and the two weeks we all spent at area code camp. 
Homer:	Not a single word of warning.  

"We've had three since September 2004, along with an architects' roundtable and at least a dozen appearances before the Board of Aldermen and various town advisory boards. I'd venture to say the public has never had more input into any project in Orange County, public or private, as its had into this one." 

How many *years* do these people have to keep coming back with designs?

My favorite part of the new design for this location is the diagonal line down the middle that points right at Weaver St. The community has long since outgrown that lawn, and my understanding is there will be a larger performance space outside on this pedestrian avenue right in view of Weaver, visually connecting the two locations.

But seriously, do you really think the new design is worse than an old and ugly strip mall?   And if you think Carrboro doesn't have a store you want and you really think there's demand, stop waiting for "them" and open a store yourself!  

I'm sorry to say that I was not at all impressed with the Chapel Hill News article on Sunday. It seemed to mostly rely on quotations from a few detractors. Posing the vague question "Is it Carrboro enough?" struck me as a way of avoiding actual analysis based on any quantifiable information. (Although I believe there is such a wonderful thing as Carrboro-ness.)

I'm glad to see Laura Van Sant weighing in above (but I hope she will register first in the future). As she points out, there has been a public dialogue about this project going on for four years. For example, these OP posts from September 2004, February 2005, and January 2007. (I just tagged them all 300 East Main for reference.)

Personally, I have some concerns about the aesthetics of the plan and would like to see more of the elevations (exterior building plans). I hope to see designs that are a friendly human-scale and consistent with Carrboro's sort of antique/funky style.

You mean like the carwash on Merrit Mill Road?

I'm all for this new development as a engine for long term support and growth of the arts in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. It is vital that the Arts Center and Cat's Cradle have new modern spaces with room to grow. Otherwise they will stagnate and disappear as we know them now. I hope both arts organizations have written agreements in place to secure their spaces in the new buildings. Losing either would be an utter disaster for our communities and the entire Triangle.

Strong arts organizations are a key element in supporting artists with fewer resources. The Arts Center trains and promotes artists of all kinds. The Cat's Cradle puts on shows with local bands and helps raise thousands of dollars a year for great causes. These groups give so much. They are a major reason I love living and working here.

Its time for our community to give back to them in a big way. A good way to do this is to help them grow the way they want to grow.

Much of the focus on creating local economies, the driving force behind the economic development plan pursued by Carrboro, is in providing the daily needs of local citizens. Is this development going to do that? Will we be able to purchase socks and underwear at one of the retail venues? Another local economies focus is on diversification of revenue. Will this development do that or will it simply add to the current dependence on sales tax revenues?

What impact will such a large development and yet more high end residences have on the neighborhoods surrounding the site? Will this site improve their quality of life or will it be another force pushing them to immigrate out of Carrboro?

 Laura is absolutely correct when she says this has been a very publicly reviewed development. The developers deserve a great deal of credit for that openness. My concerns with the project are that the town leaders have developed this plan for building a local economy and are now ignoring the basic tenets of that plan. Land use and economics are not independent of  one another.  I appreciate Jacqui speaking up so that this discussion can take place.

The socks and underwear issue continues to baffle me.

What kind of socks and underwear do you want?

If you want inexpensive basic commercial brands like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes for socks and underwear you can go to the Dollar Store in Carrboro Plaza.

I buy my winter socks at Townsend and Bertram. I'm assuming athletes buy their socks at Fleet Feet (I wouldn't know.) 

You can buy fancy underwear at University Mall, which is not in Carrboro, but something tells me a lingerie boutique in Carrboro is not what you had in mind. 

My understanding is that Carrboro is too far from the highway and does not have a large enough population to attract a big box store that would sell a diverse range of inexpensive socks and underwear.  So we may be stuck with the selection at the Dollar Store.

 

 

 

 

of a post I wrote over at MarkChilton.org last fall regarding a candidate who . . .

"wants to bring in a big box retailer like Wal-Mart – so that we will be able to buy socks and underwear in Carrboro. That whole theme keeps rubbing me the wrong way. I mean, you can buy socks and underwear in this town.

"In fact, off the top of my head, I came up with a list of five stores in town that sell socks (Townsend, Bertram & Co., Fleet Feet, Clean Machine, Performance Bikes, and Dollar General). So I rode around town and did a little comparison shopping. I found that the five stores listed all sell men’s socks and that among them they carry 22 different brands of socks – in several dozen different styles – with prices starting at 66 cents a pair.

"Then I got to thinking: I wonder if Wal-Mart can really do better? So I got in my car and drove 8 miles through 11 traffic lights to New Hope Commons. And what do you think I found? Wal-Mart sells 11 brands of men’s socks in about 2 dozen styles with prices starting at 63 cents a pair."

Admittedly, though, I did not check out the women's hosiery situation.

L'eggs are often available at the Dollar General and CVS.

Sometimes our boutiques sell fancy hose, but you usually have to go to distant Chapel Hill for that.

But for the record, the last time I needed a specific color and style of hosiery to wear with a formal dress I searched Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Southpoint without finding it and was referred to online stores for anything that plain.

 Maybe we do need a fancy underwear boutique at 300 Main!

 

The question is still on the table of how this project fits within the BOAs stated goal of supporting a local economy. It doesn't have to be underwear, it could be kitchenware or books or house paint on a Saturday afternoon. 

Laura states that on build out it will generate about $2 million in revenue. How much revenue will be lost in the years it is under development, not just from businesses being displaced but from lost revenues resulting from people not wanting to face downtown construction traffic.

How much will the additional town services cost? What's the environmental cost of 843 parking places or the emissions from all those vehicles? How much additional water will be used annually? 

How much will this develop and the condos being built behind this development raise property values for surrounding neighborhoods? 

While I agree with David that the revenues generated from this development are not the most important issue, I do think the economic impact of the development is critical to think through in detail.

 Carrboro does offer most types of merchandise, and I feel confident that Main Street Properties will make sensible, sustainable decisions about street-level tenants.  The partners have proven themselves as corporate citizens who want what's best for Carrboro -- at considerable expense.   They're certainly not shoving anything down our throats. 

My only wish for 300 East Main is that it could get underway once and for all.  Construction will be very disruptive, but well worth the inconvenience.  I don't want to hear any complaining when it's only half done in four more years.  This is the cost of doing things right.  

Czei has it right.  Let's one of us (one of us with time and money) open a store called Socks 'n Underwear!  This would put an end to that gripe forever.  And we could sell almost anything we want. 
I guess I'm wondering where the joint planning is on this one.   Within what is essentially a couple of blocks, but just by coincidence in two different planning jurisdictions, we have this project,  Greenbridge, Tom Tucker's project on West Rosemary,  another proposed development on the  Andrews Riggsbee site, and the Franklin Hotel.   Is anyone else wondering about that little road bottleneck at the CH-Carrboro line?  

There have been some discussion with between Chapel Hill and Carrboro elected officials about the Merritt Mill/Franklin/Brewer/Main intersection.  But you are right.  We do need to develop a plan.  Intersection improvment at the location is also a highly ranked project according to the Metroplotian Planning Organization (the regional fed/state transportation committee).

Carrboro is working on a plan that would one day connect Roberson Street to Brewer Lane leading to better traffic flow through both downtowns, but that would be a long way off in the future - if ever.

But, as Catherine points out below, that planning needs to happen regardless of what happens at 300 E Main.

Anita,

We already have a jointly-operated transit system. Maybe we can beef up service, including nighttime and weekends, and we won't have to worry about that "little road bottleneck" with everyone riding the buses.

The bottleneck at the CH-Carrboro line calls for attention, yes.  It would call for attention whether or not the 300 East Main Street project passed or not, especially in light of other planned/approved projects on both sides.  Any significant correction erases one church and several businesses from our signature landscape.  I feel inclined to grandfather them into any further development and hope for the best until we see the real impact of 300 East Main on Carrboro's traffic flow.  This may be the tail that wags the dog. 

Laura, thanks for your informative post.  I'm not sure what misinformation you mean but there are still questions. The open space sounds great. I'm glad to know you'll have something up at Town Hall. And thanks for all your work in helping the Arts Center and the Cradle.  Can you answer two things I think I asked:  how will Main Street accomodate this and where will people park?  I think this is relevant. I think it also calls into question the board closing the Roberson Place "cut through" as that could have been a good artery (and was design to be, I believe).

Fred,  I believe we all have a bit of Homer Simpson in us and the fact of the matter is that a lot of people don't focus in on things until they reach a final stage. As I said, I'm not necessarily opposed, but this project WILL change the face of Carrboro and when the article noted that only 4 people spoke up at the last BoA meeting it struck me that the citizenship was not fully aware of the ramifcations of this project.  I want to do whatever I can to generate a full conversation, even at this late date.

So... what's the plan to accomdate new traffic and parking?  

David Beck

David: My misinformation comment wasn't referring to your post, but to things I've read recently in other letters/internet postings that mischaracterized 300 East Main. To correct a few of them: Our proposal doesn't include condos (but does have a hotel), will have lots of outdoor public space (including tables and benches and probably a fountain) and shops and restaurants will comprise the vast majority of ground-floor space.

 I can answer your parking question easily. We'll have at least 843 parking spaces on site -- most of them in a deck but some short-term spots located near the retail space. We conducted a pretty detailed parking analysis to demonstrate to ourselves, lenders, prospective tenants and the town that we can accommodate all our parking needs on site. The amount of square footage we're proposing is based to a great extent on the amount of parking we could fit in our deck.

Another limiting factor on square footage is traffic. As the town required, we had a traffic engineer conduct a study that concludes that with a few traffic changes (fully signalized light at Lloyd & Main, restriping - but not widening - Roberson & Main to add a turn lane, etc.) our project will not significantly worsen downtown traffic. Yeah, I know we paid him to say that, as does anyone who hires a consultant. But he squawked a few times when we tried to change the mix of uses or add square footage, so he obviously wasn't willing to sign off on anything. One mitigating factor for us is that many of our uses (ArtsCenter, Cradle, restaurants) will generate mostly off-peak traffic.

 If anyone's interested in our parking analysis or the (lengthy) traffic study, they're part of the permit application and are on file at Town Hall for anyone to see.

The Roberson Street connection was in our original permit application, but removed a couple years ago because we were having difficulty getting needed property from another land owner. We've left the portion on our property vacant so that the road could be built in the future should the town wish to do so. 

 Your original post mentioned tax revenue. I completely agree that tax revenues shouldn't be the main factor in judging this proposal. But since the subject's come up and several people have asked me about it, I've finally gotten out my calculator and estimated that at build-out this project would bring more than $2 million to Orange County each year in property, sales and hotel taxes.  I don't know yet how much of that would go to Carrboro, as figuring out how local sales taxes are allocated is making my head spin. But we'll get a detailed breakdown to Town Hall in the next day or two.

Laura - thanks that's an excellent response and answers a lot of my questions.  I am curious to see the new traffic patterns. As I think about it, it's almost impossible for traffic to get worse on E Main but the thought makes me shudder.

Thnx. Also, Fred my apologies.  I see now it was Czei who posted the Simposon's dialogue.

David Beck

It's really difficult for me to find anything wrong with this project.  Even dressed up, the current strip-mall design of this property doesn't seem very "Carrboro" to me and hasn't since I moved to town 25 years ago.  There's a tremendous upside to this project aesthetically and in terms of support for the local arts scene and increased and enhanced "public space."  We are a small, dense, urban community, and everything about this project seems to me to be consistent with the town's values.
And, perhaps best of all, the town isn't even being asked to subsidize the project with millions of dollars in public money (unlike a certain parking lot being developed in Chapel Hill).

There's so much to address here.  This will be a bit disjointed.

 

1.  Notice.  Anyone who says this process has not had enough public input opportunities has simply not been paying attention. 

 

2.  Community Character.  This term often seems to be a proxy for architectural style.  300 East Main has no residential component.  I think most Carrboro residents would agree that the non-residential buildings that most exemplify the style of Carrboro architecture are Carr Mill Mall, the old post office (Spotted Dog), The Century Center, the storefront buildings on the south side of Main Street between the railroad tracks and Greensboro Street

 

These buildings share a few common traits- they usually come right up to the sidewalk, have a significant amount of brick in their facades, honor the pedestrian over the automobile (reflecting their time of construction), and sometimes have simple decorative elements using wood or iron. 

 

The current 300 East Main buildings are from the 1950s automobile era- low slung suburban boxes set back from the street with parking in front.  Structurally, the only physical element worth saving from the ArtsCenter/Cradle building is the angel sculpture above the ArtsCenter, and that should be easy enough to relocate.

 

The design of the first 300 E Main building definitely fits the Carrboro vernacular as expressed by our urban building stock.  The hotel and later phases, from the drawings I’ve seen, could probably be improved by trying to look more like the first building, but that’s not a reason to hold back on this project.  They’re still using urban building siting and significant brickwork, which should be commended. 

 

3.  Access to 300 E Main and Downtown.  David Beck asks the wrong question when he says “what’s the plan to accommodate new traffic and parking?”  Essentially, he’s asking, “what can we do to subsidize motorists from out of town at the expense of our tax base and local mobility?”

 

The correct question to ask is “how do we get PEOPLE to 300 East Main in a way that imposes the least negative impacts on accessibility to downtown?”  Right now, the question is framed to get CARS to the site, not people.  This is also the standard orientation of most parking management practice.  I appreciate that Laura and her team have done due diligence on parking by retaining the usual consultants for these things.  That said, the state of the practice in parking studies is for the most part, pretty horrendous and committed to suburban motoring assumptions. (this is not the fault of Main Street Properties)  I will try to get ahold of the parking study next week and give it a good look, and provide some specific feedback. 

 

Carrboro has one of the highest bicycle commuting mode shares in the country (not the Southeast, the country) for a community our size, a new transit plan coming out soon for Chapel Hill Transit which ought to bring some serious improvements to local service in Carrboro, and a 443-space parking lot less than 6 minutes from downtown which sits empty at the time when 300 East Main and downtown Carrboro experience peak demand.  We really need to connect the dots.

 

A 843-space deck is also going to cost Main Street Properties a lot of money.  Laura Van Sant told me at the public meeting that the deck could be built in phases, with the first piece being about 525 spaces (correct me if I’m wrong, Laura).  One goal could be to commit to not going above the number of parking spaces in the first phase of the deck at the approval.

 

A better goal would be to recognize that this whole project could possibly work quite well with 300 or 400 spaces if the Town gets thoughtful about downtown mobility across multiple modes at once, instead of just thinking about providing maximum free parking at any cost, and trying to force developers to solve a district-level problem with a parcel-based approval process. 

 

Let’s save the development team some money, and let them get started soon with much less parking.  Maybe they can even throw in some more retail/office square footage and give us some additional productive tax base, instead of more parking in an age when gasoline is going up $0.50/gallon every 15 months.

I'm very glad to see this project. One thing I'm wondering tho: what is the nature of the parts of the buildings that actually front Main St? The CHNews graphics make these parts of the hotel and the other building directly on the street seem closed off from the street - no entries or awnings to welcome foot traffic. All the pedestrian focus seems to be on the diagonal mall. Seems a shame for the Main St front to be closed off that way. Maybe its just the rough diagram that gives the wrong impression.

 

I don't see how the board of aldermen can approve this without considering the impact this will have on an already lousy traffic problem.  I think it's vital that at least some extension from Roberson Street from this project be provided--it will be impossible to do this later, and Main Street Properties owns everything on that side of the railroad tracks up to Performance Bike, except for Butler's junkyard and the kickboxing apartments. So I don't buy the argument that they need to co-ordinate with another property owner, and that can't be done in a reasonable amount of time, blah blah blah.  The aldermen would be letting them off easy by not making a Roberson Street stubout extension an absolute requirement. Let the town step in to co-ordinate road plans. This is more low-hanging fruit that needs to be picked while it's ripe.

This plan seems to be very different from the one submitted a couple of years ago which featured the diagonal extension of the greensward from Weaver Street Market. As for aesthetics, don't assume MSP cares all that much about anything but maximizing their bottom line--their argument being that whatever they put up will be better than the strip mall. “Whatever” is pretty much right. Their principle shareholder (and this is public record) owns one of the premiere properties in CH's historic district adjacent to campus at 115 Battle Lane, and has seen fit to let the old house fall over, refusing several more than generous offers along the way which would have more than doubled his original investment from 10 years ago and saved a fine piece of university history (home of past UNC president Edward Kidder Graham) in the bargain. He's got it priced right now at way above what anyone in their right mind would be willing to pay, because he'd rather tear it down and is simply playing charades with the state preservation office before he tears it down and builds some monstrous spec home. Wonder how our brethren in Chapel Hill will feel about that.

Mitch, good points - you put good detail into my vague concerns and the need for full consideration of changes before the deal is done, even at this late date, esp. around Roberson Pl.  I still don't understand the board's justification for closing off that potential cut through.  Ed, who is this principle shareholder?  It's always a good idea to follow the money... Patrick M., what's your last name? If you are gonna restate my questions, I think you should tell me your name...

David Beck

...a few traffic changes (fully signalized light at Lloyd & Main, restriping - but not widening - Roberson & Main to add a turn lane, etc.)

What sort of turn lane?  e.g. center turn,  right turn, ...

If we restripe to add lanes, without widening the roadway, are we narrowing the lanes?  If we narrow the lanes are we moving from a bike+car shareable lane to a lane where a car cannot safely overtake a bicycle within the lane?

There's a LOT of bicycle traffic on Roberson headed to/from UNC via the Libba Cotton greenway.

I have been hearing a lot of alarm after a couple of local papers published a rumor from developer Laura van Sant that the Cat's Cradle would move to Durham if they didn't get this new space approved. The only paper that actually talked to the owner of the Cradle was the N&O, and I think they made clear that van Sant was exaggerating (or at least misunderstanding) the situation:

When asked about Van Sant's claim he'd been offered rent-free space in Durham, [Cat's Cradle owner Frank] Heath answered that it was more along the lines of booking shows elsewhere than a space of his own elsewhere.

From a competitive standpoint, the Cradle could benefit from a capacity larger than its current cap of around 600. Many acts bypass the Triangle for larger clubs such as Asheville's 940-capacity Orange Peel.

- OrangeChat: Cat's Cradle's Carrboro days numbered?, 9/17/08

As you may know, the Cradle already books shows at other clubs around the Triangle, so this should hardly be read as a threat to leave. In fact, they would probably do a lot more of this kind of booking if their current building was torn down to build the new one van Sant proposes. And the Cradle has moved 3 times in it's 30+ year history, so Frank knows how to handle it.

After spending the last couple days reading about how I've been saying the Cradle will move to Durham if the aldermen don't vote on 300 East Main, I downloaded Tuesday's meeting to see what I really said. Here, verbatim, is my response to Mayor Chilton's request that I react to a proposed timeline to bring the project back before the aldermen on Sept. 30:

 "I'm concerned that this process continues to be open-ended. We answered all the questions that were brought to us from the last meeting. We once again are paying lots of money have people here to answer those questions, and I don't really see the end of this road.

 Delays do have real consequences. Sherman [Richardson) mentioned the Cat's Cradle. [Frank Heath] needs to expand yesterday. He is losing money. He has people in Durham offering him space. Performance Bike Shop: They may have gone to Eastgate anyway, but one of the reason they're going to Eastgate is because of all the uncertainties about this project. We couldn't tell them, when can you have new space. We couldn't answer a lot of those questions for them. That certainly factored into their decision. Delays have consequences. The hotel folks, you know, at some point they're going to say the hell with this and go invest their money somewhere else. 

So if in fact this goes until the 30th and y'all actually vote, that's fine. But, you know, there's always going to be more questions. We're never going to be able to answer all those questions. I don't think any project can answer all those questions. We're here tonight. We'd love to try to take a shot at answering them tonight. We'd love to get a vote tonight. We don't need a unanimous vote. We need four votes. We've got all our folks here. We're all here. Our experts are here. if you've got questions, we'd love to try to answer them." 

I appreciate you clearing this up, Laura!  Is there a link to the minutes so I can read other people's comments?  (And can I say just how fed up I am getting with the sensationalistic reporting from our local papers!)

I think we all sympathize with the cost of the delays, especially for a community institution like the Cats Cradle. This is a challenge that comes with having a more rigorous review process, and I often hear developers in Chapel Hill and Carrboro express frustration over it. I'm sure there is room for improvements that would streamline things and give applicants more certainty (some of us discussed this in Ann Arbor), but I also believe strongly that these reviews result in better developments that serve both the owners and the community in the long run.

Hang on, you're almost there!

New story from the Herald called Cat's Cradle owner says there's no move planned [reg. required]

I probably shouldn't have been surprised when the Cradle thing became such a big deal, but as an interested observer of media it did tick me off.

It was a second-day story and sounded big on the surface, but it just didn't make sense that the Cradle would up and move. 

I watched the meeting (whew) and saw it as a legitimate reason for Sherman to advocate for moving forward, but it was just one of many he cited. It got up high in many stories because it was sexy — the venue is a familar name— and could play to the rest of the Triangle. Unfortunately, that seems to be what the dailies are looking for any more.

 

 

 

 

I admire your patience Laura. I agree that delays do have consequences but that does not mean they are necessarily negative consequences.  For instance, if delay creates much more public comfort and a 7-0 vote instead of 4-3, I think that would be a very positive consequence.

David Beck

As Laura was begging at the last BOA meeting, they should vote right now.  This is a travesty.  After four years of dog & pony shows with elevations and aerial views, the Partners are running out of storage space!  I might add that these delays are costing the town a bundle too.  Time is money, folks.  Let's get to work.  

Both of the public venues in this development are going nuts to plan for the next few years.  They want contracts.  Carrboro needs that hotel.  That acre of asphalt has got to go.  Yes, it'll be disruptive; but we have to think about the people who work in those existing buildings and have to MOVE OUT as part of their jobs.  
Concensus is over-rated in my opinion.  I like nail-biters.  Many BOA votes are delayed for lack of concensus/unanimity.  We can already predict who would vote against this project tomorrow.  It won't lose 4-3 or 5-2.  Public comfort won't necessarily increase as a function of 7-0, regardless of the feel-good spirit.  These are strong-minded people, thanks to a strong-minded constituency.  The two or three nay-sayers don't have to cave in for the sake of appearance.  All they have to do is vote to vote. 
Yet more proof that Carrboro has no economic development plan, whatsoever.  Carrboro is more than happy to let successful Carrboro businesses leave because there simply aren't enough retail spaces downtown.  Keep on goin' guys!  You'll have a completely dead downtown (a la Chapel Hill) in no time flat!

Consensus is under-rated in my view. I think it makes for a generally more hamonious community, which I like. We may not get to 7-0 but the more consensus the better.   Further, this is not a travesty.  This is the process.  A travesty would be 605 W. Main. (and I'll beat that dead horse at least until the developer apologizes.) Also, I'm not sure how it's costing the town a bundle.  By delaying by a few months taxes that won't come in for x number of years?  

And I still don't see much of an answer on the Main Street traffic issues. Heck, the town doesn't even have the power to get the stupid "all red" turn light at Main and Performance Bike changed back to the green arrow.  Do we have any idea from the state DOT on plans to allow and implement changes on Main in concert with this project? 

I think this is a great project in lots of ways and I'm excited about it. But the time for fussing about details is NOW.  After the board approves this, there is no more leverage for the board on the developers.  I can empathize as I'd be frustrated if I were one of the developers.  That's part of the reality of being a developer - or at least it should be, esp for a development that will change the town signficantly and forever. 

David Beck

 

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