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Parking deck, hotel closer to reality

By Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL — Representatives of Main Street Partners told the Carrboro Board of Aldermen that they’re inching closer to a summer start for the major redevelopment of 300 East Main Street.

At a meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall, the board reviewed the final elevation plans for a parking deck on the eastern section of the property. Last month, the town agreed to a formula for leasing up to 250 spaces in the six-level deck – a deal deemed essential to a financing agreement for the Hampton Inn hotel that is proposed for the site.

Laura Van Sant of Main Street Partners said the hotel has made “significant strides” in obtaining financing – and although it’s not 100 percent certain, work is scheduled to begin on the project this summer.

Architect Jim Spencer said the new deck is likely to be built very quickly since it will be assembled from precast sections. Precasting uses less concrete than making the material on site, Spencer said, and flourishes can be added more easily to the design.

The parking deck and hotel, along with additional site work on the eastern part of the property, make up the first phase of the massive project. Additional phases will include a five-story retail and office space near the train tracks and redevelopment of the building that now houses Cat’s Cradle and Amante Gourmet Pizza.

In other action Tuesday night, the board reviewed an analysis of the town’s greenhouse gas use that was prepared by students from UNC’s Institute for the Environment.

Board members praised the extensive 66-page report, which detailed the town’s production of greenhouse gasses and offered recommendations for reductions.

Board member Sammy Slade encouraged the town to move ahead with some of the ideas in the report.

“We certainly don’t have time to just be measuring,” he said.

Mayor Mark Chilton said the report contains a lot of bad news about the effects of climate change. He said suggestions such as changing out streetlights in order to use LEDs and considering pay-as-you-throw garbage collection were helpful, but the biggest impact would be from the way the town’s growth is shaped.

“The single biggest thing [the board] can do is to change our land-use patterns,” he said.

The board also reviewed a report on the Schools Adequate Public Facility Ordinance that included projections for school construction.

Among the report’s findings is that high school expansion – including increasing capacity at Carrboro High School from 800 to 1,200 students – is not likely to be needed through 2019.

Also on Tuesday night, the board approved May as Bike Month and the week of May 16-20 as Bike to Work Week.

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