The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday August 3rd

ArtsCenter and Town of Carrboro settle costs after withdrawal from 203 Project

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 ArtsCenter, a Carrboro nonprofit, agreed to pay the Town $85,000 over the next three years to cover costs involved with its withdrawal from the development of a mixed-use building known as The 203 Project. 

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen formally approved the settlement during its Oct. 1 meeting. According to the settlement, the ArtsCenter also won’t seek funding from the Town until next summer, and the Town agreed to waive up to $10,000 in development fees for a new ArtsCenter building within town limits. 

“We’re all very happy with the agreement we came to,” Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils said.

Last year, the ArtsCenter partnered with the Town to build out the 203 South Greensboro Street parking lot. The 203 Project is a plan to build a facility that would include the Orange County Southern Branch Library, town Recreation and Parks department offices and the WCOM community radio. 

The building also would have housed the ArtsCenter, but in January, the ArtsCenter withdrew from the project to build its own standalone facility.

“We were very enthusiastic about collaborating,” ArtsCenter Executive Director Dan Mayer said. “We just needed more and different space and opportunity than was provided by that project.” 

But by then, Carrboro, Orange County and the ArtsCenter had completed the schematic design, which included rough drawings of the site plan and cost estimates, Town Manager David Andrews said. 

Seils said the Town and the ArtsCenter participated in a mediation on Aug. 27 to determine which partner owes what portion of the design cost. The option to withdraw had been built into the 2018 agreement, so either party could decide to leave after the design process finished as long as the withdrawing party paid its share of the design costs.

“The Town had certain understandings about the cost, the ArtsCenter had a certain understanding," Seils said. "And we just needed to come to some agreement about what the language of the agreement said."

But both Seils and Mayer agreed ending the Town and ArtCenter’s partnership in The 203 Project doesn’t mean the two have to cut all ties. 

“This was just something that needed to be resolved to get fully back on track,” Mayer said, adding that these kinds of things can happen.

Seils said the relationship between the Town and the ArtsCenter has always been strong and he hopes it stays that way.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about the ArtsCenter’s plans for their future so that we can find ways to support them,” he said. “We want the ArtsCenter to be a part of Carrboro as they have been for many years.”

Mayer said the ArtsCenter has made plans to relocate to another building. The center purchased property on Jones Ferry Road and sold their current building, although he said the ArtsCenter won’t receive the full price until they move out.

They plan to finance the building through a capital campaign and will be holding community input sessions in November. 

We’re being as aggressive as planning and fundraising allows,” Mayer said.

Likewise, Andrews said the Town is working to retool The 203 Project now that the ArtsCenter is no longer participating.  

“We’ll have to go through and start schematic design all over again,” he said. “And we should be able to start that within the next 30 days or so.”

The project was supposed to begin construction next fall, but Andrews said that’s no longer realistic. The design process will take around a year, he said, and construction would take another 18 months.

“Between design and construction and cutting the ribbon, I’d say we’re probably about two and a half years away,” he said.

That’s why Andrews doesn’t think the Town will look for new partners.

“At this point, we don’t have the time,” he said. “We’ve got the architects onboard, and we really need to move forward.”

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