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Carrboro Mayor-Elect On Evolution Of Downtown

By Rachel Nash Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:30 am

CARRBORO – From the Carrboro’s first hotel opening this year, to the first shop opening in the 300 East Main Street development, to the proposed plans for a new ArtsCenter— downtown Carrboro is evolving.

Mayor-elect Lydia Lavelle, who takes office in December, says she is excited to lead the Town through this period of change.

She says that the Hampton Inn, which opened in August, has provided a much-needed synergy for Downtown.

“The hotel is bringing in people to our town that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be here,” Lavelle says. “For instance, we just hosted the second state-wide Bicycle Summit. Last year it was in Raleigh, but this year it was in Carrboro because we had the Hampton Inn where we could hold it. It was really a great event to have in our community.”

Cameron’s Gifts, formerly located in University Mall, celebrated its grand opening this week as the first shop to open in the 300 East Main development.

The ArtsCenter, currently a part of the 300 East Main redevelopment site, is located in an older building which it shares with Cat’s Cradle, but that could change in the coming years.

“The ArtsCenter is very interested in having a free-standing new building, and perhaps having it be at the end of the property which sits on what is now a parking lot across from the Armadillo Grill,” Lavelle says.

The ArtsCenter has engaged Architect Philip Szostak, who designed the Durham Performing Arts Center, to draft preliminary ideas for the structure. Lavelle says she has begun to meet with community members about the project.

“It is really an exciting idea to think of the ArtsCenter moving to that kind of a structure and having more room and more visibility,” Lavelle says.

Lavelle has said before that she would like to see Carrboro create an arts district, similar to the Golden Belt space in Durham.

“It is a natural fit for a lot of the folks who live, work and visit Carrboro to be known as kind of an arts center and an arts and cultural destination.”

It’s also been suggested that the Orange County Public Library – Southern Branch Library relocate to the 300 East Main site. The developer, East Main Properties, acquired what’s known as the old Butler property located behind the 300 East Main parking deck.

Lavelle says that change is inevitable in Carrboro, and her vision is to have it happen in a way that will boost development, but preserve the existing look of the downtown.

“I think that anyone who observes the way that we operate in Carrboro knows that we don’t do anything hastily. We take a lot of input; we beat everything to death, really; and we think very long and thoughtfully about how new construction will impact our existing landscape.”

Lavelle will be sworn in as mayor on December 3, replacing Mark Chilton who is retiring.

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