The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 9th

Possible Carrboro development causes contention

Carrboro residents could see a change in landscape as developers move forward with plans for a new shopping center.

Argus Development Group submitted concept designs for the $20 to $25 million project to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen in August. The project would convert 175,000 square feet of farmland on N.C. Highway 54 and Old Fayetteville Road into concentrated commercial use.

The Roy Lloyd Farm, located across from Carrboro Plaza, is part of the last farmland left in the town and would be replaced with the development.

Ted Barnes, a partner at Argus Development, said the development would include a grocery store and retail shops.

Nancy Roberts, who lives a few miles from the planned project, said she supports the concept.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “Carrboro needs more places than we have now.”

She said she often drives to Durham or Weaver Street because of the lack of shopping options.

But some residents said it would be a waste of space.

Lorraine Aragon, who said she lives within 1,000 feet of the planned development, thinks using the area for retail would be tasteless.

She said another shopping center would destroy green space and possibly harm pedestrians and bicyclists with its inevitable traffic increase.

“It’s not what Carrboro wants,” she said. “It might be what Charlotte or Cary wants.”

Erica Eisdorfer, a critic of the project, said business is already struggling in the area, and most retailers suffer from a lack of business.

“If it’s going to be developed, it should be developed into something that we need,” she said.

Barnes said Carrboro’s low retail vacancy indicates a strong demand for business within the town.

The project would also provide shopping alternatives to Carrboro Plaza, he said.

Barnes said Argus Development plans to take into account the concerns and ideas of local residents throughout the process.

As to the traffic and pedestrian concerns, Barnes said they intend to build more convenient walkways and improvements to N.C. 54 to help mediate the impact.

He said they also hope to provide buffers between neighborhoods beyond what Carrboro requires, and only develop 25 of the total 40 acres of the plot.

“We’re going to leave a lot of green space,” he said.

James Thomas, a zoning specialist in the town planning department, said the project is still at a preliminary stage and very few details are set in stone.

“It could completely change from ‘x’ to ‘z,’” he said, warning against speculation on the project.

Jack Smyre, principal of The Design Response Inc. and a planner with the project, said they will continue to meet with officials and residents to incorporate comments.

“We are not trying to rush this one,” he said. “There’s a lot of conversation to be had.”

Barnes said he hopes to submit a zoning application to the town soon and break ground sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.

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