How might the town of Davidson redevelop the land it owns around Town Hall on South Main Street? Town officials, with the help of a team from the University of North Carolina School of Government, have been studying that question for the past year. On Thursday, Feb. 5, they’re hosting two public meetings at Town Hall to explain the so called “Catalyst Project” and seek residents’ feedback.
The meetings are at 9am and 7pm at Town Hall, 216 S. Main St.
Town officials are calling the initiative a catalyst because it’s aimed at linking the main section of downtown with South Main Street a couple of blocks away.
See related story, Dec. 5, 2014, “Stores, apts., offices, parking? Town mulls options for ‘catalyst site’”
See also the Catalyst Project Study done for Davidson by the UNC School of Government
Citizens Invited to Learn About Downtown Catalyst Project
SOURCE: Town of Davidson
Imagine shops, restaurants, and offices lining the west side of Main Street, south of Mooney’s Corner in front of town hall. That possibility is being studied by the Development Finance Institute (DFI), a program of the UNC School of Government. Their team is providing specialized finance and development expertise to the Town of Davidson to determine the potential for a partnership to develop the area. It’s called the “downtown catalyst project” for its capacity to connect the North and South Main retail districts, further enliven downtown, and invigorate development on South Main Street.
Why is the town considering this project? At first, our historic downtown Main Street was our only retail area, then the South Main area developed, and then in the early 2000s, development began at the Circles @ 30, based on plans that date back to the 1980s. With the retail, office and restaurant space we currently have in town, we are at a 98% occupancy rate, with no room for growth. Our citizen surveys show that citizens want more shopping and employment opportunities in town.
Our planning principles mandate placing buildings up close to the street with parking behind, but the configuration of Davidson Town Hall and its parking lots does not adhere to this principle. We believe we should “walk the walk” that we require developers “to walk,” and which we know increases our town’s livability.
Our 2010 comprehensive plan, with over 150 citizens’ input, calls for a “better mix of appropriate commercial uses downtown,” “a viable economy that is diverse and sustainable,” and “jobs for residents of Davidson.” The comprehensive plan also designates downtown as a mixed-use node, and it connects the South Main commercial district to the historic “postcard” area of Main Street. Currently, we have a gap from town hall to Catawba Avenue, so pedestrians typically don’t walk to South Main. One of our goals is to bridge this gap. Potential solutions include active, pedestrian-scaled building frontage and public spaces to draw people down the street. Market demand analysis shows we can support more retail, office, and residential space downtown. We also recognize there is a need for more parking downtown and would like to address that issue through this project.
DFI currently is working on pre-development services, including market analysis, feasibility, and determination of demand for specific land uses. The potential land uses include residential, retail, commercial, office, and parking.
After reporting to the board of commissioners in October and December and incorporating their input into the subsequent feasibility analysis, the DFI team will develop a preliminary program and pro forma, evaluate options for financing and structuring a partnership, develop preliminary renderings, and facilitate public feedback.
We want to hear from you; please attend our public open houses. Do you see the need for this type of development? If so, what would you like to see on this town-owned land? We have several opportunities for citizens to learn about and give feedback on this project, the first of which are on Thursday, February 5 at 9:00 a.m., as a part of our Davidson Connections meeting, and again at 7:00 p.m. at town hall. All citizens are invited to attend, learn and provide input. There will be additional public information sessions this spring.
DFI will work with the town throughout the spring to identify potential developers, generate a request for proposal for development, request feedback from citizens, and negotiate development agreements. Their goal will be to attract appropriate private investment while minimizing public investment. The team will rely on input from multiple stakeholders to produce a plan for the highest and best use for the town-owned property while maintaining Davidson’s small town feel.
For more information, please contact Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming at email@example.com.