300 East Main

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?

So I was catching up on the Chapel Hill News yesterday and I noticed some eery similarity in two stories about new downtown developments in both Carrboro and Chapel Hill. In one article, questions are raised about how the developers of Greenbridge qualified for the gigantic loan that they are currently unable to repay. It should surprise no-one to learn that the 15% of the condos that were mandated to be affordable by the Town sold first.  It turns out that when the bank looked at pre-sales to determine demand, they counted the number, rather than the value, of the units. In fact, the News goes so far as to ask whether the affordable housing policy itself is somehow at fault for Greenbidge's current financial problems. I think that's a stretch, but it does make you think twice about the process by which banks decide to make commercial loans. (Housing bubble anyone?)

In another story, the News talks about the recently restarted mixed-use project at 300 East Main Street in Carrboro, which will bring 5 stories of retail, housing offices, a hotel, and parking to the current run-down strip mall that houses the ArtsCenter and the Cat's Cradle. (VisArt, RIP.)  One key element that helped Main Street Partners to secure their financing for this was the Town of Carrboro agreeing to lease a large number of parking spaces for the first few years after construction.

CROSSPOST: Landscape, Memory, and East54

I recently saw Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy give an interesting speech on the problem that everyone seems to think that Chapel Hill was just perfect right about the time they got there. Kevin is not the first person to have observed this, and he won’t be the last, but I thought it might be interesting to share this item I stumbled across while researching an unrelated topic. R. L. Gray wrote an essay on Chapel Hill in the News & Observer (reprinted in NC Journal of Law, Vol 1, pp 516-518, 1904):

"Let the man have been tarred with the University stick and he will tell you along with his after-dinner cigar that he has a notion of some day building a house at Chapel Hill – and there remaining to the end of the chapter in the one place where he believes he can obtain a large and perfect peace. There men cling to the town and its surroundings with a memory that is both tenacious and jealous of details.

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.

Carrboro developments

When I retired from the Chapel Hill Planning Board, I said I would spend more time paying attention to Carrboro Politics. As promised, I am watching the Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting (on TV). Tonight's agenda includes the changes at 300 East Main Street (redevelopment of the Arts Center/Cat's Cradle area).

300 East Main Project

The Herald-Sun reports,

Developers of the 300 East Main Street project in Carrboro have rearranged and resubmitted their application to town staff members in hopes of hastening the project's approval and possibly beginning construction toward the end of 2007.

The development, which will include a hotel, office space, retail shops and restaurants, has been broken into two separate conditional use applications, said Laura Van Sant of Main Street Properties, the company that owns the strip mall and surrounding properties.

Read the full story here.

Van Sant also said the hotel interested is a "mid-priced national chain." I'm eager to see a hotel in Carrboro, but I hope it doesn't come with huge, tacky signs.

What are other folks thinking about this project? Are there still concerns? Or are we ready for this?



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