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

Eye Opener with Tony Tata

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Wake County Superintendent of Schools Tony Tata talked to a crowd of more than 100 at the Cary Chamber Eye Opener Breakfast this week. Read more

Technology: Local Inventor Builds Unique Laser Toy

Cary, NC – What started out as a science club project has evolved into a new product release. It’s Firefly, a unique toy that brings the magic of lasers to children of all ages. Read more

Classifieds: Speakers, Antique Chairs, Play Set

Cary, NC – Interest has been lively for Classified Cary during this first week of operation. Several interesting things have shown up for sale. 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

Announcing: Classified Cary

Cary, NC – For a long time, people have asked us if we accept classified ads. Today, we’re pleased to announce the launch of Classified Cary. Read more

Who’s the Smartest in the State?

Cary, NC – A recent study by American City Business Journals (ABCJ), parent of Triangle Business Journal, studied brainpower in cities with more than 100,000 people. Guess who’s #1 in North Carolina? Read more

Business: At Lynn’s Hallmark, It’s All in the Family

Story and photos by Lindsey Chester. L ->R: Daphne, Ralph and Scott Ashworth.

Cary, NC- It may be a down economy, but the Ashworth family is staying a step ahead. They own 15 Hallmark stores including one newly opened in Cameron Village and one will open on Friday (Nov 18) at Park West Village in Morrisville. In fact, they are the latest addition to our Hidden Giants business series. Read more

Food: Forbes Gives Herons 5th Star

Story from staff reports. File photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Forbes Travel Guide only gives a 5 star rating to 25 restaurants in the entire United States. One of them is in Cary. 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.