Downtown Cary: Plans for 2012

Story by Lindsey Chester, photos by Brooke Meyer.

Cary, NC  – It was another packed house at the Heart of Cary Association‘s (HoCA) first meeting in the new year. The guest speaker was Cary’s Town Manager Ben Shivar and the crowd was eager to hear what he had to say about plans for DownTown Cary in 2012. Read more

Downtown Cary This Week: Shivar at HoCA on Thursday

Story from staff reports. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Today, we introduce a column called Downtown Cary This Week. Read more

Business: MRPP Sold

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – MRPP, the full-service media agency founded by Sheila Ogle, has been sold to a firm in Tennessee.  Read more

Pictures: Cary Christmas Parade

Photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Saturday was the 32nd Annual Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade. The weather was perfect, with thousands lining the parade route in Downtown Cary.

There were floats, mascots, marching bands, dancers, scouts, old cars, hoopers, dogs, artificial snow, real bubbles, elected officials, Elvis, Santa and a giant pelting of candy. It was literally raining candy at the corner of Chatham and Academy for two straight hours, thrown by participants into the crowd along the parade route. Wise children brought bags. Read more

Restaurants: Bosphorus

Story and pictures by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – The Downtown restaurant scene in Cary is always changing. The new “in” place to eat lunch: Bosphorus. The food is fantastic, the service and experience are classy and comfortable and the price is right. Read more

Update: Downtown Cary- “Uniquely Us”

Story and photo by Lindsey Chester

Cary, NC- Tuesday, Nov 29 a standing room only crowd gathered in a Cary Arts Center conference room to hear from Downtown Manager Ed Gawf about the latest downtown updates. Read more

Volunteer: Cary Ole Time Winter Festival

Cary, NC – You say you want to get involved? Here’s your chance. Doc Thorne of The Heart of Cary Association has put out the call for help for the Ole Time Winter Festival—coming up this Saturday, December 3, 2011. Read more

Downtown: More Improvements on the Way

Photo of historic home on Sugg property downtown by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – From Town Council member Don Frantz via Facebook:

At last night’s council work session we unanimously approved the construction of a three story addition to the downtown theater providing additional arts/classroom space, lobby, restrooms and leaseable office space and retail (possible coffee shop???) 🙂 The theater will have approximately 215 seats.

New infrastructure improvements to include water line repairs, stormwater mitigation and streetscape along a section of East Chatham from Academy to Walker.

And last but certainly not least, the town has closed on the Suggs property from Chatham to Academy.

Great things are happening in downtown Cary!

Update – 5:36 PM

Town of Cary released the following information on last night’s work session:

At its work session Tuesday evening, the Cary Town Council expanded the blueprint for the recently acquired historic theater at 122 East Chatham Street to include the construction of an adjoining three-story building, bringing the total space for the downtown Cary multi-use cultural facility to 13,700 square feet. The additional space will provide the Town with the potential to host larger scale productions, expand seating, and provide rental/lease space for community and commercial uses.

Referred to as Option 2 in the work session, the plan builds on the original concept for the venue, which was once the town’s first indoor movie theater and once renovated will be used for music, theatre, improvisational comedy, and digital arts offerings, including film. Under the approved expanded option, seating for the theater will increase from approximately 165 seats to more than 200 seats and the venue will now boast a ticket booth, refreshment areas, and larger bathroom facilities. Original features, such as the theater’s lobby and main entrance, will remain intact while providing space for the facility to offer adequate storage, office, and backstage areas. The upper floors of the addition would offer additional programming spaces and could potentially serve as rental spaces or house retail businesses.

“As we began working with the consultant to plan the theater’s renovation, we quickly found that the existing building’s age and blueprint would severely limit the Town’s use of and programming for that building,” said Ed Gawf, Town of Cary Downtown Development Manager. “By adding on to the existing structure, we’ll be able to preserve the character of the original theater while bringing it up to code and ensuring it is fully accessible, comfortable, and enjoyable for patrons.”

Town officials said that the Town expects to see savings through opportunity costs by constructing the addition now as opposed to phasing it over time. They also noted that the Cary Arts Center, which opened over the summer, is already nearly fully programmed, and there continues to be a need for artistic space in the downtown.

Built in the 1940’s, Cary purchased the 7,488 square-foot building for $410,000 in July 2011. The cost to renovate the building is estimated at up to $1 million; the additional cost for Option 2 is an additional $1.7 million for design and construction. Funding for the expanded project is included as part of the $8 million allocation for downtown capital projects in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

Renovation and expansion efforts of the Downtown Theater are part of the Town’s overall Downtown Development program. This initiative includes revitalization through physical improvements and downtown activities and facilitation of private redevelopment in downtown. The opening of the Cary Arts Center in August 2011 was the first step in the Town’s transformation process in downtown; the Downtown Theater is the Town’s next major project and is now expected to open in the summer of 2013 with the additions approved last night.

Citizens interested in learning more about the Town’s Downtown Development program are invited to attend a community information workshop on November 29, 2011 from 6-8 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center.

To follow the progress of the renovation, search “Downtown Theater” at www.townofcary.org or call (919) 380-4204; for more information on Cary’s plan for downtown, search “Downtown Development” at www.townofcary.org or call (919) 462-3870.

Not Closed on Sugg Property?

Susan Moran, Town of Cary Public Information Officer, advised CaryCitizen this afternoon that the Town has not closed on the Sugg Property. More info as it becomes available.

A walk past the Sugg parcel downtown this afternoon showed an “under contract” sign on the lawn.

Cary Chamber Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Woman Power

Story and photo by Leslie Huffman

Cary, NC – The Historic Heater House, at 120 Dry Avenue, was built in 1918 by the Heater family. Years later it was used as a dormitory for students and then owned by several other families. But in the early 2000’s the property was purchased, restored and renovated into an executive suites office building, now named The Historic Heater Center. Read more

Jon Kane: A Strategic View of Development

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – The Heart of Cary meeting on Thursday morning was literally standing room only for a presentation by Jon Kane, the developer of North Hills.

A Who’s Who and Some Fine Baked Goods

Close to 50 downtown business owners, residents and public officials packed the Cary Chamber for the 8 o’clock meeting. It was a who’s who of downtown leadership including Ed Gawf, Ralph and Daphne Ashworth, Scott Ashworth, Sheila and Carroll Ogle, Don and Lisa Frantz, Howard Johnson and Sandy Jordan of the Chamber, Captain Don Hamilton of the Police, property owners Bill Taylor and Curtis Westbrook and many other civic and business leaders.

Tasty baked goods including Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread were supplied by Great Harvest and sponsored by CaryCitizen.

Down to Business

After some HoCA business, Doc Thorne turned the floor over to Jon Kane.

In a nutshell, Mr. Kane started with a small property that held a single drug store and turned it into one of the signature developments in the Triangle – North Hills.

In less than a dozen years, Kane Realty Corporation has expanded the project to over 100 acres of mixed use retail, residential, entertainment and office.

Fill In The Blank

Mr. Kane talked about North Hills, but the audience didn’t have much trouble picturing the parallels to downtown Cary.

The developer began with a simple statement relating to his own project. He asked the audience to complete this sentence:

“If you’re going to Raleigh, you have to go to _________”

What fills in the blank? Kane Realty set out to make North Hills the answer to that question.

Ingredients of a Successful Development

As he clicked through his slides, Jon Kane ticked off a list of ingredients that make a successful redevelopment on a community scale:

  • Areas to just “hang out”
  • Office above retail (makes life efficient)
  • Emphasis on unique, quality design and architecture
  • Lots of things to do , and easy to do them
  • Importance of events – days, nights and weekends
  • Be strategic about how parking fits into the development
At North Hills, you can go to the supermarket, lease an office, hit the gym, get a latte, see a movie, hear a band. You can shop ’til you drop, catch a meal, stay at a hotel, get a spa treatment and, maybe soon, ride your own personal pod transportation from one end of the development to the other.

Optimism for Downtown Cary Redevelopment

Mr. Kane identified a key strength in Cary’s revitalized effort downtown as broadly based community buy-in, from individual business owners to elected officials and landowners.

Fill In The Blank

Jon Kane closed by challenging members of the Heart of Cary Association to fill in their own blank:

“If you’re visiting Cary, you must go to ______________.”

Heart of Cary meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Heart of Cary Association.