Beginning Monday, the Carrboro municipal parking lot at 203 S. Greensboro St. will be closed to the public to facilitate the construction of the 203 Project.
The lot will be the site of The 203 Project, a joint effort by the Town of Carrboro and Orange County to construct a three-story civic complex. The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2024.
The building will house the Orange County Southern Branch Library, the Carrboro Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources, the Orange County Skills Development Center and other facilities.
The utility phase of construction began in early August, according to Trish McGuire, the planning director for Carrboro's Department of Planning, Zoning and Inspections.
“Technically, the work was getting underway, but we were able to work with the parking lot still open,” McGuire said. “Our interest was allowing the parking lot to stay open as long as it could.”
The lot was used by many visitors to Carrboro, according to Scott Conary, president of Carrboro Coffee Roasters and owner of Open Eye Café, which is located across from the lot.
“All local business owners are definitely excited about this project,” Conary said. “We recognize the good that’s going to come from it... the only question is, 'What does that mean for people who come visit our town?'”
Conary said he and other members of the Carrboro Business Alliance have been given no assurances about where alternative public parking spaces would be located to make up for the lost space of the former South Greensboro lot.
Jon Hartman-Brown, the Town's director of economic development director, said the Town of Carrboro had acquired permits for public parking spaces at Fitch Lumber and Hardware and behind the Cat’s Cradle.
“We also have a lot that's right there behind Acme that the Town leases as well that's available all day,” Hartman-Brown said.
He added that members of the public can park next to the Armadillo Grill and encouraged Carrboro citizens to consult Apple Maps, Waze and the Carrboro Town parking map to stay updated on downtown parking options.
During workdays, he said the 203 Project’s 171-spot garage would be reserved for visitors and employees of the 203 Project’s facilities.
However, to encourage patronage of downtown commercial establishments, he said the public will be able to use the parking structure outside of business hours. So, members of the public will be able to park in the garage after 5:30 p.m. and on weekends.
“The big thing is we see a lot of our parking lots fill up during the evenings, especially on the weekends,” Hartman-Brown said.
Conary said that because the Fitch Lumber lot and the South Greensboro lot would only be accessible to the public outside of their respective hours of operation, he considered this solution to be only temporary.
He added that this potential loss in public parking spaces would negatively affect the walkability of the town for visitors. Drivers who arrive in Carrboro by car want to be able to walk around and explore on foot once they find a parking spot, he said.
He noted that reliable accessibility to parking was a key factor in potential patrons’ decision to visit a business.
“We want all of our local businesses to have that potential and the clientele they need to stay vibrant and in business, because that’s what makes our town special,” Conary said.
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