Story by Lindsey Chester, photos by Brooke Meyer.
Cary, NC – It was another packed house at the Heart of Cary Association‘s (HoCA) first meeting in the new year. The guest speaker was Cary’s Town Manager Ben Shivar and the crowd was eager to hear what he had to say about plans for DownTown Cary in 2012.
Standing Room Only
Apparently, many Cary residents and business owners wanted to hear what Ben had to say, because the room was standing room only when HoCA President Doc Thorne called the meeting to order at 8:00.
Ben Shiver titled his presentation “Making It Happen- Heart of Cary.” The main focus was an update of town accomplishments in 2011 and a look ahead through 2012 for the core area downtown.
Accomplishments of 2011
Ben pulled up a slide that listed nine main accomplishments that happened in 2011. These include the very important hiring of a full-time Downtown Manager, Ed Gawf. Opening the Cary Arts Center was another major accomplishment, although begun years ago. This building has already become a major hub downtown and attendance has exceeded expectations. Lyman Collins, Cary’s Cultural Arts Manager, chimed in that the center is booked for all of 2012.
Other items Ben highlighted were the recent historic buildings purchased: The Jones House and the Theater and other Downtown parcels. The town also continues to purchase parcels around what is being called the “Opportunity Site”, consisting of roughly 11-13 acres across from the Arts Center. Ben was quick to point out that no plans are finalized for what this site will become, but they are entertaining many ideas including a park, a new library as well as shops.
Lastly, Ben previewed illustrations of the new Downtown Cary way-finding banners which have started to be installed. Correction: the banners read “Cary Downtown”.
Plans For 2012
Ben maintained that sticking to a budget is a priority as capital funds are tight. That said, there are priorities for what dollars are available.
A slide was shown illustrating the study that is being conducted for a bridge over the railroad tracks on N. Harrison Ave as an alternate to the current Walker Street plans. Much needed public parking is being created by the town in the area around the theater. As part of the “Downtown Incentives Program” the town is working with Fidelity Bank to open up their plaza to be more inviting. Across the street, the Town is partnering with Kitchen & Bath Galleries for some inviting street scape.
The Chatham Street area plans include new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and at least one of two planned roundabouts will begin this year. It is hoped the new theater will open by Christmas.
Nothing happens overnight and development and interest in our downtown area has been a long time coming. Ben remarked that all this planning will make downtown a “thirty year overnight success”.
Heart of Cary Association meets monthly on the first Thursday of each month at 8am in the Cary Chamber of Commerce in Downtown Cary. Meetings are open, but membership is highly encouraged. After all, membership has its privileges!