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Thursday March 23rd

The ArtsCenter pulled out of the 203 Project. Here's what that means for Orange County:

The ArtsCenter, a venue for various performance events and visual art exhibits in Carrboro, pictured on Jan. 17, 2019.
Buy Photos The ArtsCenter, a venue for various performance events and visual art exhibits in Carrboro, pictured on Jan. 17, 2019.

The Town of Carrboro will move forward with the 203 Project despite losing one of its major partners.

The ArtsCenter, a nonprofit currently located on E. Main Street in Carrboro, recently decided to pull out of the project and not relocate to the planned-development facility.

“The Town and county have been good partners in the planning process,” said Dan Mayer, executive director of The ArtsCenter, in a Jan. 15 press release. “However, we have decided to pursue other options that better fit our needs.”

The project began in 2016 when Orange County requested that the Orange County Southern Branch Library be moved to 203 South Greensboro St.

The project is a collaborative effort to transform the municipal parking lot next to Open Eye Cafe into a multi-use facility. Orange County and the Town of Carrboro partnered with local organizations to provide an inclusive space for both the arts and a sense of community.

While the facility will still house the public library, Carrboro Recreation and Parks offices, Teen Center, Virtual Justice Center and local radio station WCOM, the addition of The ArtsCenter would have brought classes, performances and art exhibits currently held at the Main Street location.

Despite the retraction of The ArtsCenter, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said the Town will move forward with the facility.

“We just learned this news two weeks ago,” Lavelle said. “The project will move forward, but the Board of Aldermen will certainly consider adjustments that will need to be made now that this major partner is no longer involved.”

The ArtsCenter signaled their intent to collaborate in the new facility after they signed a development agreement with the Town in April 2018. The announcement of their departure, however, may also complicate the project as The ArtsCenter was expected to pay for its own facilities. 

“This will be addressed in the near future, but obviously, funding will be tied in to how the project is adjusted,” Lavelle said.

The project is still in the planning phase, and construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2020. The public is welcome to provide comments to the Board of Aldermen as it discusses any changes it plans to make.

“I am certain there will be an opportunity for the public to respond and give comments regarding adjustments to the project that the Board will be considering at an upcoming meeting,” Lavelle said.


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