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Board approves The Butler, moves on to 300 East Main

Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

After approving a residential complex that would be its next-door neighbor, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen opened a public hearing Tuesday night at Town Hall on 300 East Main, one of the largest redevelopment projects in Carrboro history.

The 507,500-square-foot project is on 5.24 acres extending from the intersection of Main Street and Boyd Street near Nice Price Books to the present municipal parking lot on the corner of Main and Roberson streets. It includes a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, a five-story parking deck, a central pedestrian plaza, three large commercial buildings and extensive changes for Cat’s Cradle and The ArtsCenter.

At the hearing, several community members asked the board to take a hard look at the project.

Gary Wallach told the board flat out that he believed the project was architecturally unimaginative.

“It doesn’t look like Carrboro to me,” he said. “We can do better.”

Other residents sparred over parking.

Patrick McDonough said he was concerned that there would be too much parking and too much traffic associated with the project. The town, he said, should run shuttles from the Jones Ferry park & ride lot for Cat’s Cradle and ArtsCenter shows and encourage people not to take their cars into town. He called for the board to significantly cut the amount of parking for the project.

Peter Lee, chair of the town’s economic-sustainability committee, said he’s all for encouraging people to use shuttles and alternative means, but said the parking deck would be a considerable asset for downtown. He suggested the town might want to even consider someday adding a sixth story to the project’s parking deck.

Ricardo Palao, who lives on Boyd Street next to the site, said he would like to see a more detailed traffic plan, especially around the proposed Boyd Street exit from the parking deck. Palao suggested left-hand turn lanes be constructed to avoid traffic tie-ups.

Board of aldermen members agreed to extend the hearing until Sept. 16. Several asked for more information on how the project would be phased.

Joal Hall Broun said she wanted to know more about how the phasing would affect the current tenants.

The project’s developer, Main Street Properties of Chapel Hill LLC, has developed a phasing plan designed to keep as many of the existing tenants operating while their new spaces are built, according to Laura Van Sant, the main spokesperson for the project.
Jacquie Gist said she wanted to see some thought put into the part of the hotel that would front Main Street. The plan right now, she said, has what looks like a “huge blank wall.”

The Butler

Prior to the opening of the public hearing on 300 East Main, the board provided some last-minute tweaks to The Butler, a two-building five-story condominium complex sandwiched between The ArtsCenter and the Libba Cotton bike path.

Construction on The Butler — so named because it will be located on the property formerly known as Butler’s Garage — will begin after the developer has excavated and removed any contaminated soil on the site under a brownfields agreement with state environmental regulators.

Once built, The Butler will include 57 condominiums, 22,170 square feet of office space and a two-story parking deck. The development originally included nine affordable housing units, but under a deal worked out with the Orange Community Housing and Land Trust, the town and developer Downtown Urban Ventures, the building will include five units of affordable housing and the town would accept a payment in lieu for the other four units instead. The payment would be roughly $100,000 per unit.

In other action, the board delayed a scheduled public hearing on proposed impervious surface requirements for day-care centers. The decision delayed until next month a review of changes that would allow for construction of a day-care center at the Winmore development.

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