CARRBORO- The past twelve months have seen a whirlwind of economic development blow through downtown Carrboro as the town welcomed its first hotel and parking deck as part of the 300 East Main project.

Though the opening of the Hampton Inn and Suites was a long time coming, Mayor Lydia Lavelle says it was worth the wait.

“Now having the hotel open, its so exciting with all the people coming to Carrboro and the synergy of the businesses opening around it,” says Lavelle.

Other stores are moving into the retail space below the hotel, including Cameron’s gift shop and Womancraft Gifts. Several restaurants are currently in the works as well.

This year also saw the long-awaited reopening of the PTA Thrift Shop at its newly-renovated location on Jones Ferry Road. In addition to helping fund education, Lavelle says the mission of the thrift shop is a good fit for the town.

“It’s just very Carrboro- reduce, re-use, recycle.”

And Carrboro’s office of Economic Development recently rolled out a new town logo and motto to help convey Carrboro’s unique ethos to the wider world.

“We’ve unleashed this new marketing campaign: ‘It’s Carrboro, feel free.’” says Lavelle. “It’s a great logo and there are shirts for sale with taglines like, ‘Openly Carrboro.’ Those are best-sellers, I think.”

Though there’s not yet much to see, Lavelle says ArtsCenter leaders and town officials are beginning to plan for another project that will redefine downtown.

“The folks with the ArtsCenter have been starting to meet with groups of people about the vision for the ArtsCenter moving to the far end of the property that it is on right now and having a brand-new, free-standing building- what that might look like, what it might include, how parking will work with that, how it will fit into our Carrboro landscape.”

As she looks ahead to next year, Lavelle says town officials will need to consider how construction and new development might be disruptive to those who work, shop or live downtown. But she says she’s confident Carrboro can come together to plan for the future.