Thursday, November 20, 2008
It has taken some time but the 300 E. Main project in Carrboro has been approved. The following article appeared in The Daily Tar Heel.
After almost five years, 300 E. Main St. in Carrboro can break ground.
The development, which spans from Cat’s Cradle to the ArtsCenter, unanimously was approved Tuesday after several impassioned speeches from members of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and years of back and forth about the project’s potential impact.
“I am not very happy with this project,” Alderman Jacquie Gist said. “In my heart of hearts I want to vote against it. I strongly believe it’s not good for the town I love.”
But Gist went on to vote for the project.“It meets the letter of the ordinance. My job is to enforce the law and the ordinance as it stands, not as I would like it to be,” she said. The development, by Main Street Properties, will include a five-story hotel, office buildings and a parking deck.At Weaver Street Market, across the street from the site of the proposed development, community opinion was mixed.“I think Carrboro wants to grow for growth’s sake. It’s not going to be Carrboro anymore,” resident Christian Bonanno said before the meeting.He said that in his eight years in Carrboro, he has seen the town change and the people that drew him there move away.“Its the growth you see everywhere,” Carrboro resident Luke Roberts said, adding that Carrboro has been labeled an authentic or cool place to live.And with this label comes new development as more people want to move into the area.“Carrboro will no longer be that authentic little pocket,” Roberts said.The first section to be built is the hotel, run by Atma Hotel Group Inc.Though developers originally planned to construct a Hilton Garden Hotel, they said Tuesday that they may instead build a Hampton Inn.Gist expressed concern about how this could change the design and the skyline.“I can see a Hampton Inn sign in my mind,” she said. “I don’t want that dominating the Carrboro skyline.”The developers have often stressed their local roots and commitment to Carrboro.Atma Hotel President Manish Atma stressed in an interview that the hotel group has taken community input.
“We are local folks. We are not going to put up something unappealing to Carrboro there,” he said, adding that the hotel is a $20 million project.And not all of the town officials are opposed to the hotel.Mayor Mark Chilton noted that the developers must care deeply about Carrboro, because they still wanted to build there even after this drawn out process.“I think it’s an attractive building,” he said of the hotel. “It’s going to be a project that holds a lot of promise for our community.”Supporters of the project point to the benefits of the increased tax base it is expected to provide.“We need now more than ever a stronger financial base,” Mayor Pro Tem John Herrera said. “My heart will not be broken when I see that beautiful hotel paying taxes. Change is painful but it’s necessary.”
Written By: Katy Doll, Senior Writer, The Daily Tar Heel