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Long-awaited Cat's Cradle expansion planned on Brewer Lane for late this year

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The Cats Cradle is moving to 107 Brewer lane, Carrboro NC. The site is currently under construction.

The longstanding local music venue Cat’s Cradle will be opening a second location at 107 and 109 Brewer Lane in Carrboro. Permits were issued for the new site and work is underway on the project.

The new, two-story project will be almost 11,000 square feet and have room for more than 1,000 occupants. The plans include five bars and a mezzanine level with over 1,600 square feet of space overlooking the stage and standing room below.

Cat's Cradle has been a hotspot in the Triangle music scene since 1969, first opening in a basement on West Rosemary Street. The venue moved several times, but has been housed at 300 E. Main St. in Carrboro since 1993. 

Acclaimed artists like Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop performed at the venue, and it has also held numerous charity and benefit shows. There are performances most nights of the week, and Cat’s Cradle also hosts shows at various other venues in the area, such as Local 506 and the Haw River Ballroom.

In 2018, the Carrboro Town Council passed an amendment to establish a permit requirement for the Brewer Lane property. The permitting process began in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Frank Heath, the owner of Cat’s Cradle, bought the Brewer Lane site in 2020 for $1.4 million. The property includes a former warehouse and a nearby lot.

The venue’s current location has a front and back room to allow for shows of different sized audiences, with the front room holding up to 750 people and the back room holding 200. 

The new location will operate alongside the 300 E. Main Street venue and will accommodate larger bands. The new location’s occupancy will be 1,200 people and will have a 275-square-foot stage with over 4,000 square feet of standing room, as well as balcony seating. 

Jon Hartman-Brown, the Town’s economic development director, said larger bands coming to Carrboro will lead to more visitors at hotels and restaurants.

The strip mall located at 300 E Main Street that houses Cat’s Cradle has long been a topic of discussion among developers. A Hampton Inn & Suites opened on the site in 2013, and there have been pushes to renovate and repurpose the mall. The ArtsCenter moved out of the property in 2023, and Cat’s Cradle has been in talks about fully relocating since 2015.

“The cost of real estate around here is not good — capitalism and music have always sort of been at odds,” Ethan Clauset, owner of All Day Records and the indefinitely closed music venue Nightlight, said. “One thing that's made Carrboro and Chapel Hill a nice place to live is that it has been affordable, and you can take a chance and open a new business here that is maybe a little experimental in some ways.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cat’s Cradle nearly closed permanently. The pandemic caused a decline in the economic performance of concert venues, which was the cause of Nightlight’s closure.

As COVID-19 restrictions eased, Cat’s Cradle began temporarily staging outdoor shows in the gravel lot behind the building.

“I’m super happy for Frank that he has purchased the actual property and that he kind of has something that he can call his own finally, in terms of an actual building,” Nick Stroud, co-owner of Belltree Cocktail Club, which is located across from the planned expansion, said. “Because I've worked with Frank, I've known Frank for decades, so I'm very excited for him.”

Though Cat’s Cradle has seen location changes and financial hardships, it has survived in the community for 55 years — longer than most other concert venues in Chapel Hill or Carrboro.

“We're happy to have Cat's Cradle here, and we're happy to see that they're continuing to expand here and make Carrboro their home,” Hartman-Brown said. 

@LolaOliverio

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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