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.

Events: Big Thursday

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Just a bref reminder of two big events on Thursday Downtown. Read more

Transportation: Cary Depot Opens Early, Under Budget

Story by Lindsey Chester. Photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC- The new Cary Depot has been operating since Labor Day, but the ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday, October 3 amidst much hoopla. Read more

Crime: Public Art Vandalized Downtown

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – On Friday morning, the manager of the Fidelity bank in downtown Cary called Clare Sifford, Director of Cary Visual Art. Someone had tipped over the sculpture on loan at the corner of Chatham and Academy. This is the second piece of sculpture vandalized in the last month.

Getawaycar

Getawaycar, the sculpture by Adam Wall was awarded Best in Show this year in Cary. “Last night,” Clare told CaryCitizen, “someone (probably more than one person, as this piece is VERY heavy) pushed it over.”

Damage was evident along the top of the sculpture. A paint smear on the sidewalk showed where the artwork had crashed to the ground.

“I could see that the paint was chipped and the steel was bent,” Clare said. “Fortunately, Adam is semi-local, as he lives in Laurinburg, NC, and will be able to come repair the piece at some point in the near future. This sculpture is valued at $5,000.”

2nd Piece Vandalized

This is the second piece of public art vandalized in downtown Cary in less than a month. “The first one was Collective Conductivity by artist Julia Rogers,” Sifford told this publication.

“It happened on Wednesday evening, 8/24/11. The glass heads of the sculptures were pried loose and dangling by the LED light wires, the glass lotus in the seated figure’s hand was broken, and her large glass hand was pried loose and stolen.”

“The glass hand is not cast,” Sifford said, “it is hand-formed. Each piece is individually made to properly fit the other components in the piece. This sculpture is valued at $15,000.”

Collective Conductivity photograph by Clare Sifford.

 

Victim #1: The Artists

In most cases, the artists themselves must pay for the damage in repair or restoration.

Cary Visual Art carries liability coverage for the exhibition, but artists are advised to self-insure their work. Few do.

So, in the case of vandalism, the artists are the victim.

Victim #2: The Community

Vandalism has a chilling effect in the arts. “I am so disheartened that it seems like vandals have specifically targeted our exhibition. This is heartbreaking to me, and I am afraid that continued vandalism will discourage artists from participating with CVA, therefore hurting our exhibition further.”

So, in the case of public art, the community is the victim as well.

Standing Up For Ourselves

Naturally, community members downtown and across town are outraged. Police Captain Don Hamilton wrote to Clare Sifford, “I hate that this is piece number 2 to be damaged and I agree that continued problems could jeopardize future artists wanting to participate.”

Cary Police run nightly patrols downtown. One expects they will step up their presence in light of this new challenge.

One might also expect video surveillance to be considered as a way to safeguard valuable artwork on loan to the community.

As our downtown redevelops, now is the time to make sure we have a safety regime commensurate with our community investment and needs.

Cary Buys Jones-Foy House

Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – More dramatic news about the quickening pace of re-development downtown was revealed this morning at the Heart of Cary Association monthly meeting. Read more

Opening a Business in Cary Gets Easier

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree

Cary, NC – At a Heart of Cary meeting a couple of months ago, public frustration at a cumbersome Inspections and Permitting (I&P) process boiled over in front of senior town staff and officials. Since then, real progress has been made on the issue.

CaryCitizen spoke with Town Manager Ben Shivar about changes already in place and others still to come for I&P. Read more