The Town of Carrboro is collaborating with Orange County on the development of the “203 Project,” which will be a 3-story building in downtown Carrboro that will host a County branch library and a variety Town offices. The project also includes a parking deck with 170 vehicle parking spaces and 70 bike parking spots.
Carrboro had been working with the County for years to identify a library site. The County had long been willing to establish a branch in Carrboro, but the partners had trouble identifying a site that had the accessibility the Town wanted. Eventually the Town found a site convenient to 4 different bus routes, a new sidewalk and a very popular bikeway. The new building sits less than a 10-minute walk from the very successful Carrboro Farmers’ Market space, and about 5 minutes from both the Cat’s Cradle concert venue and the new home of Carrboro’s ArtsCenter.
We like this project for three particular features –
- It uses a public facility to help downtown revitalization. Carrboro’s downtown is doing very well, but this major public investment will be attractive to a broad range of residents, create another daytime attraction and encourage longer downtown stays. All of this will benefit downtown businesses. As we like to say – if you won’t invest in your own downtown, why should anyone else?
- It shows interlocal cooperation to bring services to where the people are. It seems that libraries are increasingly important public facilities, and putting the library where the people are is better than trying to make people come to the library.
- It puts denser development where it belongs. By teaming up, the partners make better use of a site that can handle the density, instead of building separate buildings on multiple sites, perhaps each with on-site surface parking.
At the start of construction, the building had a total estimated cost of just over $41,000,000. The County and the Town borrowed money separately for their shares (the Town also put in a substantial amount of cash). The Town owns the site, and when the project is placed in service the County will receive a condominium interest in the library space. We worked as bond counsel for both the Town and the County on their separate borrowings, and we participated in the preparation of the interlocal agreement for the project to make sure it worked with the financing plan.
You can find more information on the 203 Project on the Town of Carrboro’s web page for the project.