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The Daily Tar Heel

Club Nova Could Receive Makeover

Architect Giles Blunden has been working to replace the existing units and to expand the total number to 24.

On Tuesday night, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen unanimously granted Giles Blunden's request with Blunden-Piesse Architects to hold a public hearing to gauge input on an apartment building conditional-use permit.

Blunden requested the permit so he can build 24 single-room occupancy units at the club's existing site and demolish the existing eight units presently there.

The hearing, set for April 9, will allow the board to receive input before reaching a decision on the conditional-use permit application.

Club Nova, located at 103-D W. Main St. in Carrboro, is an organization that provides mentally ill people the opportunity to live on their own. Since the club's inception in 1987, membership has grown to 80.

Club Nova offers its members offices, a kitchen, a dining and meeting room, a thrift shop and 11 apartments.

One of more than 300 clubhouses worldwide, Club Nova provides members with access to transitional employment, educational support, affordable meals and housing, and a social setting designed to build self-confidence.

"Club Nova is important because there is a real lack of that sort of housing in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area for that population of people," Blunden said.

Joan Burnett, a rehabilitation therapy specialist for Club Nova, said the extension will be an important addition.

"It will give members more opportunities to live independently and have decent, affordable housing."

Blunden said the existing eight units are "worn out" and are in dire need of replacement.

"The residents will be relocated individually to similar housing while the new apartments are being built," Blunden said.

Burnett predicts that construction will begin early next year.

"A lot of our plans depend on how things go with the public hearing," she said.

"We have deadlines, and we're also looking for grant money."

She added that Club Nova is relying on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for financial assistance.

Aldermen said they are confident the architect will have no problem securing the hearing, which is the next necessary step before construction can take place.

Alderman Diana McDuffee said she would have been surprised by opposition to the request.

"This board's been very supportive for a long time," she said.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist echoed McDuffee's sentiments.

"The board has always been extremely supportive of Club Nova," Gist said. "We and the town love Club Nova. It's an amazing thing."

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